These are some of the key concepts that guide our church and will help keep us all on the same page! Click the picture below for a youtube playlist of great video resources and/or read book summaries below.
Rick Warren, Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission. Zondervan, 1995.
Referenced in: Strategies for Congregational Renewal: Diagnostic/Prescriptive
It is difficult to overstate the impact of this book on churches worldwide. It is perhaps the most widely known and widely used resource on church development. It began as Rick Warren’s five-point strategy for leading the Saddleback Church to such phenomenal success. Launching from the Saddleback story, Warren began conducting seminars to large audiences of ministers who wanted to learn his approach, many that have effectively implemented his techniques. The book followed. Since its original printing in 1995, it has helped innumerable churches and ministers. Alongside the book is a plethora of resources such as Purpose Driven Church Online, Saddleback Resources, and Pastors.com. Another multi-million best-selling volume that grew out of the Purpose Drive approach is the Purpose Driven Life.
The book is divided into five parts.
Part One, Seeing the Big Picture, tells the Saddleback Story, exposes the myths regarding growing churches, and lays out the essentials of his approach. He says,
My definition of church growth has five facets. Every church needs to grow warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, stronger through worship, broader through ministry, and larger through evangelism.
In this way, he distinguishes between church growth and church health, with growth being the natural result of health, if each of these five dimensions is balanced. He also rejects the false dichotomy of quantity vs. quality, arguing it is possible to have both.
Part Two, Becoming a Purpose-Driven Church, suggests churches should have a fundamental, biblical purpose rather than being driven by factors such as events, seekers, etc. He discusses how to define, communicate, organize around, and apply this purpose to all aspects of congregational life.
Part Three, Reaching Out to Your Community, discusses the concept of targeting a population of the surrounding community that a church is best equipped to reach.
Part Four, Bringing in a Crowd, develops the attractional model of church growth, centered around seeker-sensitive worship and preaching.
Part Five, Building Up the Church, presents the Saddleback maturing sequence that intentionally moves people from crowd (unchurched seekers), to attenders (congregation), to mature members (committed), and then to ministers (core). This section includes a thorough description of the popular diamond model of assimilating and involving members through the Life Development Process (101, 201, 301, 401). He also shows how Saddleback uses methods such as membership covenants, the S.H.A.P.E. method of spiritual gifts assessment and ministry placement, etc.
As far as approaches to church renewal, Warren is prescriptive, but not diagnostic. He is prescriptive in that he suggests every healthy church exhibits the five biblical purposes. On the other hand, he acknowledges not all churches should or can use all the methodologies presented. He is more interested in suggesting the over-arching principles, and offers the Saddleback methods as tools he and others have used to activate the principles.
Although Purpose-Driven Church is not a planning model, Warren often recommends to those who are serious about becoming purpose-driven the planning procedure by Stephen Macchia, Becoming a Healthy Church and its companion, Becoming a Healthy Church Planning Workbook. These two developed independent of each other, but the Macchia workbook shows how to correlate the two.
Warren is not without his critics. On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine a church that could not benefit greatly from knowing the Saddleback principles. Warren is certainly representative of the attractional, seeker-sensitive, church growth model, yet few express this philosophy better than him. Many of his principles are found among missional/emerging enthusiasts as well. This is must reading for those interested in contemporary church development.
Simple Church Book Summary
A case study of 400 churches conducted by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger found that the healthiest churches in America tended to have a simple process for making disciples, they have clarity about the process, they move Christians intentionally through the process, they are focussed on the elements of the process and they align their entire congregation to this process.
The authors encourage church leaders to ask questions like: Are people being transformed? Is the church making real disciples? Are they the kind of disciples Jesus made? Or is everyone just busy?
Churches with a simple process for maturing people are expanding the kingdom. Simple churches are making a big impact while complex churches are struggling and anaemic.
Four Examples of Simple Church
1. Cross Church
They have a simple three-step purpose statement that is also its process. “Love God, love others, serve the world.” One member said, “The worship service helps me love God more, and my small group is where I learn to really love others. I serve on the greeting team that allows me to serve others.” Cross Church takes a horizontal attendance measuring approach that allows them to track the percentage of the congregation in each process area. The change in percentages over time gives them a sense of movement within the process.
2. Immanuel Church
They concluded that fully committed believers would be intimate with God, and other Christians, people who grow in their faith, and are servants in the Kingdom of God. They describe their discipleship focus as a process. They call it Connecting, Growing, Serving. First, Immanuel seeks to connect people to God and others. They desire to see people become “connecting believers.” Next they challenge “connecting believers” to become “growing believers” by engaging in opportunities for deeper spiritual growth. Finally, the process ends with “growing believers” committing to become “serving believers.”
3. Christ Church
God impressed on their pastors’ hearts to focus people on four things: an intimate relationship with God, community with others, serving, and influencing nonbelievers. They committed to one statement that would feature their simple process: Connect to God, others, ministry, and the lost. Discipleship includes being intimate with God (connect to God), living in community with other believers (connect to others), serving the Body of Christ (connect to ministry), and sharing the gospel (connect to the lost).
4. North Point Community Church
They use the image of a home – and want to move people from the foyer to the living room to the kitchen. The Foyer is the welcoming place. People then move to the living room for connections. The kitchen is small groups where discipleship occurs
Simple Church Defined
A simple church is a congregation designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it. The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment). The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus).
1. Clarity: Starting with a Ministry Blueprint
Clarity is the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people. Understanding always precedes commitment. If people are to embrace and participate in the ministry process, they must be able to internalize it.
Clarity in a Simple Church
* We are called to build lives (Ephesians 4:11-12).
* Building the body of Christ is an ongoing process (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:22).
* Our ministry needs a clear ministry blueprint.
The process is more important than the purpose of an organization because it is the process that makes everything work. (Michael Hammer)
Five Essentials for Clarity
A. Define Your Ministry Process
* Determine what kind of disciple you wish to make. Make a list and narrow it down as much as possible.
* Describe your purpose as a process – in sequential order. Describe your purpose statement as a process.
* Decide how each weekly program is a part of your process – each program must move people onwards.
B. Illustrate Your Process
* The process will resonate with people if they can visualise it.
* The illustration should be illustrative of your process.
* The illustration should show progression.
* The illustration should help simplify.
C. Measure Your Process
* What gets measured gets done.
* Learn to view numbers horizontally not vertically. Report on how many people are moving not attending.
* Measure attendance at each level or stage in your process.
D. Discuss Your Process
* View everything through the lens of your process.
* Discuss the process often in meetings.
* Ensure that your leaders know the process.
* Brainstorm new ways to communicate the process.
E. Increase Understanding
* Articulate the process corporately – find opportunities to talk about the process often.
* Share the process interpersonally – in conversations at dinner tables and in meetings.
* Live the process personally – you must live and do what you are asking people to live and do.
2. Movement: Removing Congestion
Movement is the sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment. It is about handoffs, it refers to what happens in between the programs. It is how someone is handed off from one level of commitment to a greater level of commitment.
Movement in a Simple Church
* Only God produces spiritual transformation.
* Spiritual transformation moves people to greater levels of commitment.
* Our ministry must place people in the pathway of God’s transforming power.
* I must design a process that partners with God to move people through the process of spiritual growth.
Five Prescriptions to Remove Congestion
A. Strategic Programming
* Begin with your clearly defined process – match your programs with the simple process God has given you.
* Choose one program for each phase of your process – multiple programs divide attention and energy.
* Design each program for a specific aspect of the process – each program must be distinct from the others.
* Place the programs in sequential order
B. Sequential Programming
* Order the sequence to reflect your process – the programming order must flow from the process order.
* Designate a clear entry-point – without a clear entry point there is no beginning to the process.
* Identify the next levels of programming – what is the program after the entry point and the next, etc.
C. Intentional Movement
* Create short-term steps – to expose people to the process that they have not experienced yet.
* Capitalize on relationships – people move because someone leads them through the process.
* Consider the “now what?” This is what people should ask at each stage in the process.
* Connect people to groups. People stick to a church when they get involved in a small group.
D. Clear Next Step
* Offering a clear next step for new believers us essential.
* Move new believers into the life of the church.
E. New Members Class
* Teach the simple process - Structure the class curriculum around your process.
* Ask for commitment to the simple process.
3. Alignment: Maximising the Energy of Everyone
Alignment is the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process. It means that all ministry departments submit and attach themselves to the same overarching process. When a church is fully aligned, all ministries are operating from the same ministry blueprint. The ministries not only embrace the simple process, but they are engaged in it. Each ministry department mirrors the process in their area.
Alignment in a Simple Church
* Unity reflects the nature of God.
* Unity is attractive.
* God is passionate for our unity.
* Align people around a simple process.
Five Essentials to Alignment
A. Recruit on the Process
* Look for philosophical alignment, not just theological alignment.
* Look for similar ministry approach, not just similar doctrine.
B. Offer Accountability
* Job descriptions should be tied to the simple process.
* Individual ministry goals should be aligned to the overall church direction and ministry process.
C. Implement the Same Process Everywhere
* Understanding is increased.
* Unity is promoted as silos are eliminated.
* Families experience the same process.
D. Unite Around the Process
* Remind people of the process – link ministry decisions and direction to the process.
* Highlight contributions to the fulfilment of the process – remind people the are part of the whole.
E. Align New Ministries
* Ensure new ministries fit into the simple process before they start.
* Check the fit of existing ministries to the process.
4. Focus: Saying No to just About Everything
Focus is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process. It often means saying “No.” Without focus, the church becomes cluttered despite its process and the process is buried underneath a myriad of special events and activities.
Focus in a Simple Church
* The tools for worship can become the objects of worship.
* God applauds the removal of anything that hinders spiritual transformation.
* Programs can become an end in themselves instead of a means to an end.
* I must focus our energy, resources, and attention on the process God has given our church.
Five Essentials to Focus
A. Eliminate Non-Essential Programs
* Elimination is a matter of stewardship of time and money
* Eliminate non-essential programs and then limit adding new ones.
B. Limit Adding Programs
* Funnel special emphases through the existing programs in the process.
* With less programming we can focus more on the programs we offer.
* Add more options and not more programs.
C. Reduce Special Events
* Funnel the event into an existing program – try meet needs through existing programs and not new ones.
* Combine the event with an existing program – stack a special event on top of an existing program.
* Use the event strategically – if a new event is needed, make sure it is placed in the simple process.
D. Ensure the Process is Easily Communicated
* As you eliminate or reduce special event, make sure you communicate well with people.
E. Ensure the Process is Simple to Understand
* Choose simple language – carefully select the words and phrases.
* Be brief – make sure the description of your ministry process is brief.
Great organisations are focused. They are good at saying No!