Sharing From the “Purpose Driven Church” Part 6

Applying Your Purposes



Rick Warren writes this is the most difficult part of becoming a purpose-driven church. Many churches have done what we’ve talked about thus far:

  1. They’ve defined their purposes.
  2. They’ve developed a purpose statement.
  3. They regularly communicate their purposes to their membership.
  4. Some have even reorganized their structure around their purposes.

However, a purpose-driven church must go one step further and rigorously apply its purposes to every part of the church:

  1. Programming.
  2. Scheduling.
  3. Budgeting.
  4. Staffing.
  5. Preaching.
  6. And so forth.

Pastor Warren writes, “Integrating your purposes into every area and aspect of your church’s life is the most difficult phase of becoming a purpose-driven church. This process will require leadership that is totally committed to the 5 purposes. It will require months, maybe even years, of praying, planning, preparing, and experimenting. Rick encourages us to focus on progress, not perfection. The end result will be that our church will look different than Saddleback and every other purpose-driven church.


Ten Ways To Be Purpose Driven:

1. Assimilate new members on purpose: We have to use the Circles of Commitment as our strategy for this assimilation.

  1. Begin by moving the unchurched from the community to the crowd (for worship).
  2. Then, move them from the crowd to the congregation (for fellowship).
  3. Next, move them from the congregation to the committed (for discipleship).
  4. Then, move them from the committed to the core (for ministry).
  5. Finally, move the core back out into the community (for evangelism).

Rick began with the community, and for the first year focused on getting a crowd out of the community. Saddleback was running about 200 after that first year. They used the survey and lots of advertisement that first year because they didn’t have enough people to bring in unbelievers themselves. Now that Saddleback is large they don’t use advertisement, because they have multitudes of members inviting others to come.


2. Program around your purposes: We need to design a program to fulfill each of our purposes. If we use the 5 circles as a strategy for programming, we’ll identify both our targets (community, crowd, congregation, committed, and core) and our objective with each target (evangelism, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry).

Bridge events: The primary program Saddleback uses to impact the community is an annual series of community-wide events. At their current size these events are very large. We would have to start with much smaller events. Some of their events are overtly evangelistic, while others are pre-evangelistic – they simply make the community aware of the church.

Seeker services: The main program for the crowd is their weekend seeker services. They are designed as services to which our members can bring any unsaved friends to whom they are witnessing. The seeker service is meant to assist personal evangelism, not replace it.

Small group network: The main program for the congregation is their small group network. Fellowship, personal care, and a sense of belonging are all benefits of being in a small group. Rick tells people, “You won’t really feel a part of this church family until you join a small group.”

Life Development Institute: The main program for the committed is their Life Development Institute. It offers a wide variety of opportunities for spiritual growth: Bible studies, seminars, workshops, mentoring opportunities, and independent programs. The people can earn credits and eventually receive a diploma. The midweek service is a vital part of the Life Development Institute.

SALT: The main program for the core is their monthly SALT meeting, which stands for Saddleback Advanced Leadership Training. They have that monthly meeting on the first Sunday evening of every month.


3. Educate your people on purpose: Their Christian education program is purpose-driven. Their goal is to help people develop a lifestyle of evangelism, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry. They want to produce doers of the Word, not hearers only – to transform, not merely inform. One of their slogans is, “You only believe the part of the Bible that you do.”

Transformation won’t happen by chance. Rick challenges us that we must establish a disciple making, or educational, process that encourages people to act on what they learn and rewards them when they do.

At Saddleback they call this the “Life Development Process.”




An Overview of The Life Development Institute

100 Level Classes

To lead people to Christ and church membership

200 Level Classes

To grow people to spiritual maturity

300 Level Classes

To equip people with the skills they need for ministry

400 Level Classes

To enlist people in the worldwide mission of sharing Christ








  1. You get to first base by completing Class 101 and committing to church’s membership covenant.
  2. You arrive at second base by completing Class 201 and committing to a spiritual growth covenant.
  3. You make it to third base by completing Class 301 and committing to serve in a ministry of the church.
  4. You make it to home plate by completing Class 401 and committing to sharing your faith both at home and on mission trips.

As in baseball, no credit is given for runners left on base. Rick tells new members that the goal is for them to become “Grand Slam Disciples.”

They want them to complete all 16 hours of basic training and to commit to the covenants explained at each base. There is a written covenant at each base that they expect people to sign and commit to before moving ahead. No member may proceed to the next base until he has committed to the requirements of each covenant.


4. Start small groups on purpose: They don’t expect each small group to do the same things; they allow them to specialize.

Seeker groups: These groups are formed exclusively for evangelism. They provide a non-threatening environment for nonbelievers to ask questions, express doubts, and investigate the claims of Christ.

Support groups: These are for the purpose of congregational care, fellowship, and worship. Many of Saddleback’s support groups provide support and fellowship during a specific stage of life; or a specific need in life.

Service groups: These groups are formed around a specific ministry. Groups like these find fellowship together through a common task, project, or ministry.

Growth groups: These groups are dedicated to nurturing, discipleship training, and in-depth Bible study. Saddleback offers about 50 different curriculum choices, and some of these groups do a more in-depth study of the previous week’s sermon.


5. Add staff on purpose: Each person Saddleback hires is given a purpose-based job description.


6. Structure on purpose: Rather than organizing by traditional departments, organize around purpose-based teams. Every staff member at Saddleback is assigned to one of our five purpose-based teams. They are:

  • The missions team;
  • The magnification/music team;
  • The membership team;
  • The maturity team;
  • The ministry team.


7. Preach on purpose: To produce balanced, healthy believers, Rick suggests that we need to plan a preaching schedule that includes a series on each of the 5 purposes over the course of a year. A 4-week series on each of the purposes would only take 20 weeks, leaving 32 weeks to cover other themes.

This doesn’t mean that every time you teach on the purposes you have to talk about the church. You can personalize the purposes! You can talk about them in terms of every Christian. Series examples:

  • You Are Shaped for Significance! [Ministry]
  • The Six Stages of Faith! [Spiritual maturity/Discipleship]
  • Learning to Hear God’s Voice! [Worship]
  • Answering Life’s Toughest Questions! [Evangelism]
  • Building Great Relationships! [Fellowship]


8. Educate your people on purpose: Categorize every line item in the church budget by the purpose of the church that it supports, or to which it relates.


9. Calendar on purpose: Designate 2 months of each year to give special emphasis to each purpose. Then give each purpose team (composed of staff or volunteers) the assignment of emphasizing that purpose church-wide during those months.


10. Evaluate on purpose: To remain effective in an ever changing world we would need to continually evaluate what we do. We would need to build review and revision into our process. Evaluate for excellence. We would evaluate our effectiveness through the standard of the 5 purposes.

Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church