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d. Ministry.

The forth purpose driven principle is ministry which can be understood as service  rendered to God or to people. Jesus’ ministry is identified as He preached the kingdom of God, taught his disciples and healed the sick, feed the hungry and aided the poor. The classic Greek term used to describe ministry is “diakonia” which has the idea of waiting at tables, there by associating the disciple as a servant to all for God sake.

This idea is seen in all of the Gospels.[1] In John` s Gospel the word “dikonia” is replaced with “doulos” which offers an ever more lowly position of a slave to others for Christ’s sake and the gospel. The perfect example of both these words for ministry is seen in the life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary. Warren is very keen on this servant attitude to be found in the heart and lives of those who belong to Saddleback.

He writes and affirms that the disciple is “created to serve God”;[2] he suggests that when you serve others you are serving God. He teaches that God carefully shaped you for service. He quotes from the book of Jeremiah to support his statement, “ Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work”.[3] Again the sense of Warren’s deep belief in the Sovereign God actively at work on our behalf. Warren links the call to salvation carrying with the call to ministry.

He believes that a non serving Christian is a contradiction in terms.[4] Warren moves beyond the call to ministry to suggest that God has commanded that we serve Him.[5] Service is not an optional extra it is seen to be at the heart of our relationship to God. So ministry becomes a vital principle in Warren’s Purpose Driven Church. Warren has much to say on service or ministry; he suggests that, “you are shaped for serving God”.[6]

The development of that thought is found in his book “The Purpose Driven Life” where he develops his thinking through the use of an acrostic built from the word, “SHAPE”. Ministry includes the need to “unwrapping your Spiritual gifts, listening to your Heart, applying your Abilities, using your Personality, and employing your Experiences”.[7] 

Warren’s ministry definition is central to the development of his “core” group[8] of believers in the church, this group represents the most committed people in the Saddleback fellowship, their spiritual commitment and appetite is reflected in their desire to serve others for Jesus sake.[9] Saddleback has a defined process that allows people to find their area of ministry that is most suitable for their gifting.

The route to that discovery is helped by the development of a seriously organised system which includes taking a “discovering my ministry class, filling a SHARP profile, having a personal interview, being commissioned as a lay minister and attending a monthly core training session”.[10]Warren openly admits[11] he has about 1500 people serving at this level and they are the secret of Saddlebacks strength.

One of the key issues with this process is that these 1500 workers are not only serving internally in the church but externally in the community as the active witnessing voice of Saddleback, they are the equivalent of Matthew’s understanding of what a disciple should be.[12] 

e. Evangelism.

Warren’s fifth principle is evangelism. Everything about the purpose driven movement reflects a desire to reach the unchurched with the gospel. Warren suggests that, “your ministry is your service to believers in the body of Christ, while your mission is to unbelievers in the world”.[13] The Greek word, “euangelizesthai” means to announce the good news, the noun form, “evangelion” means good news and occurs some 72 times in the New Testament and is a favourite word used by the Apostle Paul.

The church for Warren exists to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and needy post modern world. Warren insists that “we are Ambassadors for Christ, our mission is to evangelise the world”.[14] Warren clarifies what the world has to be told, as God’s people carry out the task of evangelism.  “We are to tell the whole world of Christ’s coming, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His promised return”.[15] 

Warren believed the task of evangelism to be so important that he reminds his readers that Christ gave five great commissions,[16] he sums up the intensity of his beliefs in the need for evangelism by suggesting, “as long as there is one person in the world who does not know Christ, the church has a mandate to keep growing”,[17] seeking the lost.

In evangelism Warren asks the question, “who is you target?” The answer to that question took the form of a defined strategy, “the Bible determines our message, but our target determines when, where and how we communicate it”.[18] Warren clearly teaches that for your church to be most effective in evangelism you must decide on your target,[19] because knowing your target makes evangelism much easier, in fact Warren would go as far as suggesting, that defining our evangelistic target has been the second most important factor behind Saddleback’s growth.[20]

While these marketing strategies may produce results, Murray would add a word of caution, simply because of the “ways we are planting churches, the kinds of churches planted and the lack of theological reflection among church planters”.[21] He also suggests “that he is disillusioned about church planting because I believe it is vital and that we can do it more effectively”.[22] Many church planters have, “encountered difficulties related to unclear vision, insecure foundations, unrealistic expectations, inadequate leadership, limited training and lack of on going supervision”.

Saddleback does not fall into this category, it has clear vision, secure foundations, realistic expectations, adequate leadership and on going supervision of staff and lay leaders.Warren’s evangelistic activities in targeting (HUP) a particular group of people is carried out so as to be “effective and not exclusive”. [24] He readily admits that his evangelistic target group was “young, unchurched, white collar workers”.[25]

This was the largest group living in the Saddleback Valley area and also the group that Warren felt an affinity with. His identification of this group was defined as the target because of geographical, demographical, cultural and spiritual considerations.[26]Evangelism for Warren is more than just a hope, it becomes a designed strategy of targeting your significant community group, based on a sociological study of there selected area for ministry, personalizing the target.  

Warren suggests, “that you need to create a composite profile of the typical unchurched person your church wants to reach”.[27] A key conclusion that Warren comes to is, if you can combine the characteristics of the residents of your area and produce a mythical person, it will make it easier for your people to know who their target group is.[28]Warren suggests, “that if you have done a good job in collecting information, your members should recognise this mythical person as their next door neighbour”.[29]

He argues that this is a biblical way of evangelising; he quotes Paul the apostle, who said,“to the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews”.[30]Saddleback’s principles are simple yet profound, Warren believed, that Saddleback was built upon the absolute belief that when these five principles are outworked together, spiritual and numerical growth will take place and church spiritual health will be experienced.

Saddleback sums up the principles with a purpose statement, To bring people to Jesus and membership in His family, develop them to Christ like maturity, and equip them for their ministry in the church and life mission in the world, in order to magnify God’s name.[31] When this statement is carefully read, it is interesting that it is driven with a desire for results, numerical results as opposed to be driven by activity or programmes.

At this point the inner spiritual understandings of Warren have been uncovered, his three personal spiritual experiences e.g. conversion, commitment and guidance coupled with his four non-negotiable doctrines of the Sovereignty of God, the Holy spirit, the Word and Revelation and finally the third layer of his Christian belief system e.g. five Biblical principles of Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Evangelism.

Warren believed that with these principles and a defined process church growth would naturally take place but even more important than that, Church health would become a reality in the 21st century church and this was very important for Warren.[32] It is of critical importance that these five principles be understood as the foundation for everything that the Purpose Driven Model has become.

When Warren defined his principles as worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism, he set in place the 5 pillars of the purpose driven church, from that point he produced a purpose statement which would drive the Saddleback church forward over a period of 25 years. His summing up of their purpose produced five words, “magnify, mission, membership, maturity and ministry”.[33]

The statement version read, To bring people to Jesus and membership in His family, develop them to Christ like maturity and equip them for their ministry in the church and life mission in the world, in order to magnify God’s name. Warren clarified his statement of purpose as meaningful results as opposed to programmes of activity. He believed if he carried out his five principles or purposes, the inevitable result would be numerical growth.

He also believed that his purpose driven process would encourage participation[34] by all members which would contribute to the overall goals of the church.Part of the genius of the process was that the five principles were developed in a sequential process,[35] which is absolutely key in the numerical success of Saddleback.

To be a purpose driven church the principles had to be placed in a workable process that could be acted upon each day. Warren recognised that every purpose needed a clear and distinct process to fulfil it.[36]The outcome of this processing of purposes is instead of growing a church with programmes, one focused on growing people through a process.[37] Warren proved that if you “set up a process for developing disciples and stick with it, your church growth will be healthy, balanced and consistent”.[38]

He sums up his process by suggesting that he employs four distinct stages, “we bring people in, build them up, train them and send them out”.[39]  The total focus of the Purpose Driven Church is simple, yet profound, it is clearly church health. 

[1] Matthew, 20: 28, Mark, 10:45, Luke, 22:27 & John 13:4-17.

[2] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 227.

[3] Jeremiah, 1:5.

[4] Warren, TPDL, 229.
[5] Warren, TPDL, 230.

[6] issue 60, 24/07/02.

[7] Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 234-248.
[8] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 134.
[9] Warren, TPDC, 134.
[10] Warren, TPDC, 134.
[11] Warren, TPDC, 134.

[12] Matthew, ch 28. (Disciples going out into the world to preach the gospel.)

[13], issue 56, 19/06/02.

[14] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 104-105.

[15] Warren, TPDC, 104.

[16] Matthew 28:29-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47-49, John 20:21, Acts 1:8.

[17] Warren, TPDC, 104-105.

[18] Warren, TPDC, 157.
[19] Warren, TPDC, 157.
[20] Warren, TPDC, 157.
[21] Murray, Church Planting, 4.
[22] Murray, CP, 4.
[23] Murray, CP, 4.
[24] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 158.
[25] Warren, TPDC, 160.
[26] Warren, TPDC, 160.
[27] Warren, TPDC, 169.
[28] Warren, TPDC, 169.
[29] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 169.
[30] Warren, TPDC, 171 (Quote from 1 Cor.9:20)

[31] Warren, TPDC, 107.

[32] Warren, TPDC, 85-94.

[33] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 107.
[34] Warren, TPDC, 108.
[35] Warren, TPDC, 108.
[36] Warren, TPDC, 108.
[37] Warren, TPDC, 108.
[38] Warren, TPDC, 108.
[39] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 109.

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©2008 Church Education Trust