Church Education Trust

4.5.4 Application. 

The question, “how do we do it?”  finds its answer in a strict formulated application of a pattern to follow, the key to growth is “purpose”. Everything carried out in Warren’s church philosophy is purpose driven by principles through a defined process. He gives 10 steps[1] to a purpose driven church, those steps are simply defined, how to apply that which you communicated through the organisation and development process, which has been set in place. Warren suggests that step one is to “assimilate new members on purpose”. 

He believes that all churches which will grow, must start from the outside in and not inside then out to the community. He talks about building networks in community, building relationships with the unchurched, surveying their general needs, focusing on their particular needs and letting those needs determine your approach from a Christian witness position. After understanding the needs of community, the need to build programmes that will be designed to meet those needs will reflect the first principle of “evangelism”.

As the “community” becomes the “crowd” meeting together, then the principle of “Worship” is highlighted. As the “crowd” becomes the “congregation” the development of the principle of “fellowship” is introduced. From this point the “congregation” becomes the “committed” and the principle of “discipleship” is the foundational teaching to be explored and finally when the committed become the core ministry then becomes the dominated factor.

At each stage a principle is introduced as people progress in their spiritual journey they meet the challenges of all the principles in an organised, structured and pre-determined way. The outcome of this process according to Warren is simply balance. His system philosophy continues with an education programme built on principle and purpose, for Warren the education programme has one specific goal and that is to help believers develop a life style that is purpose driven by the principles of evangelism, worship, fellowship, discipleship and ministry.

Warren suggests that transformation does not happen by chance, we must “establish disciple making programmes which encourages people to act on what they learn and reward them when they do”. [2]In the light of this Warren has constructed an education class programme[3] which includes 16 hours of training covering subjects such as, “How to be committed to Saddleback’s membership covenant; A spiritual growth covenant, Committing to serve in the ministry of the church, and committed to share your faith both at home and abroad”.

The next stage in the application of the organisation is the development of small groups defined by purpose. In these groups people are allowed to specialise, there would be groups who specialise on evangelism, worship, discipleship, fellowship and ministry and the core principles dictate the nature of the studies. Warren even suggests that all new staff members are chosen in the light of the five principles, the staff teams organise around their specific principle or purpose.

A team made up of a team pastor, co-ordinator, three staff and lay ministers would be driven by their specific principle emphasis. Each ministry team have their target. It may be community and evangelism, crowd and worship, congregation and fellowship, committed and discipleship, core and ministry.

All preaching is determined by the principles; Warren suggests that each principle is allowed 4 weeks of exposure each year so five principles take up almost half of the time in the year allocated to preaching. Budgeting, which is an important issue is principled driven, as is the calendar, the property, every thing that is done must reflect a purpose.

Finally, Warren calls for an evaluation of purpose each month to review, revise and evaluate for effectiveness, he asks the question “are we on target in our ministry?” He believes that the more your members understand and commit to your purposes the stronger your church will become.  

Warren in his own way deals with each of the four questions raised, “why does the church exist? What is the church to be? What is the church to do? And finally how does the church do it?” It would be so easy to look from the outside in at Saddleback but looking from the inside out, the driving vision of Warren, his personal spiritual experiences, his doctrinal beliefs, his discovered New Testament principles and a process is the key to the real development and understanding of his ecclesiology.    

[1] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 138.

[2] Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 145.

[3] Warren, TPDC, 141f. 

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©2008 Church Education Trust