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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

CRITIQUE AND REVIEW OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH

BY RICK WARREN

SUBMITTED TO DR. DANIEL MOOSBRUGGER

IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT

OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COMPLETION OF CLED 620-B03,

BY

JASON LOCKE

LEESBURG, IN

SEPTEMBER 18, 2011

Table of Contents Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 3 Purpose in Writing the Book .......................................................................................... 3 Strengths/Weaknesses and Key Features ........................................................................... 5 Strengths ......................................................................................................................... 5 Weaknesses ..................................................................................................................... 6 Key Features ................................................................................................................... 8 Audience that Would Profit from Reading ........................................................................ 8 Conclusion ......................................................................................................................... 9 BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................ 10

Introduction The name Rick Warren is probably a name that most people in the church would recognize. He is a renowned author of many books most notably The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church. The Purpose Driven Church is not so much a road map of how to imitate his church as it is a guide of principles to follow that will help one to grow their church. The book is broken down into five major areas: Seeing the Big picture, Becoming a Purpose Driven Church, Reaching out to your community, Bringing in a crowd, and Building up the church. It is in these five areas that Rick Warren attempts to show how God intended His Church to be and operate. This review will look at whether Rick Warren accomplished his main thesis of showing how the church is supposed to be purpose driven through examining the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

Purpose in Writing the Book Rick Warrens purpose in writing the book is to show that Jesus had and still has a purpose for his Church that each one is to be purpose driven. Rick Warren states that every church is driven by something. There are those that are driven by tradition. These are the churches that have the favorite phrase that they have always done it that way. There are those churches that are driven by a personality. This can be either the pastor or a senior member of the congregation. There are those churches that are driven by finances. These churches are interested in the total cost of a program. There are those that are driven by programs. These churches spend their efforts keeping the programs going. There are churches that are driven by events. In these churches the calendar in
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full to the point of overflowing and church members are busy doing rather than being. There are churches driven by buildings, which wrap up all resources in building projects. There are churches that are driven by seekers. These churches allow the needs of the unbelievers to drive their church.1

Rick Warren suggests that there should be a new paradigm by which the church is driven. He refers to being purpose driven and bases it upon the Biblical model that Jesus describes in the scriptures. The Model is taken from two parts: The Great Commandment found in Matthew 22:37-40 and the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. It is from these verses that he describes the five purposes of the church. First the church is to love the Lord with all their heart. Second, they are to love their neighbor as themselves. Third, they are to go and make disciples. Fourth, they are to baptize them. Fifth, they are to teach them to obey.2

Warren spends the rest of the book explaining how to accomplish these five purposes and how it looked to the Saddleback church. He makes it clear that this is not a recipe that should be followed to produce the growing church like Saddleback but is more guidelines that will lead to growth in the church. Rick Warren is not interested in making clones of his church but in equipping leaders to see the vision of being purpose driven. It is in the strengths that Rick Warren accomplishes his task of describing how to

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1995), 77-79.
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Rick Warren, 103-106 4

be purpose driven, however the reader needs to take some caution to look out for the weaknesses.

Strengths/Weaknesses and Key Features Strengths One of the strengths of this book is the detail that is used to describe the different facets of how to become purpose driven. Warren describes the process of how reach out to the community for example by breaking it down into who the target is, knowing whom the church can reach best, and the strategy to do so in chapters nine through eleven respectively. He also confronts radical individualism that has permeated the American culture. He accomplishes this by the use of the members covenant and church discipline.3 In a society that Christians seem to float from one church to another and seem to have no commitment to any particular denomination this perspective is like a breath of fresh air. A church should place emphasis upon what it means to be a member and then hold people accountable to that commitment. This author has been in churches that have had nearly a thousand people on the church membership rolls but only about 150-200 in average attendance.

Another great strength is that this book promotes the priesthood of the believer. In encapsulates the idea that everyone is a minister by insisting that everyone that is a member must be involved in ministry. In chapter nineteen Warren shows how to

Ibid., 309-310; 321-322 and 54. 5

transform every believer into being a minister. He shows that every ministry is important and the Biblical foundation for this belief.

Weaknesses Overall the book is very strong but this author does see some weaknesss that should be addressed. One weakness in Rich Warrens book is his use of eisegesis. For example the idea that one must start with common ground in order to evangelize the lost because Paul did this with the Athenians (Acts 17:22-31). Paul is not arguing from a common ground but is in fact destroying their philosophies as falling short. He is not trying to meet some felt need but instead is giving the truth of scripture to them. Another example is in the use of Mark 2:17 to try and show that all purpose driven churches at least in part are there for unbelievers and not the Christians or transfer growth. Whereas this author is not in favor of transfer growth the passage is directed at the Pharisees that could not see that they were in need of healing or the doctor. Christ is making the point that only those that realize they have need for a doctor will truly come to salvation. The passage has nothing to say about church growth.4

Another weakness that this author sees in the book comes from a major endorser of the book, Robert Schuler and a pastor that Warren recommends. Robert Schuler is a Universalist in that he believes that all people are the children of God. This goes directly against Jesus teaching that his sheep know his voice and follow him (John 10:27). This

For further on this see Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church Zondervan, 1995.: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission. Grand Rapids, Mich., Angel Fire, http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/ddd_chc82/articles/purposedrivenchurch_review.html (accessed September 15, 2011). 6

implies that there are sheep that do not know his voice. This author believes that Rick Warren has made a bad error in endorsing a man that does not hold to Biblical teachings.

A third weakness of this book is that Warren tells the church that the primary purpose of the church is for the lost and that services should be set up around them. While this author sees this need the primary purpose of the church is to gather to worship and equip the saints for ministry
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So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16) and When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? 38 Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far offfor all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
The Fellowship of the Believers
37

They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold
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property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. In these passages the main point of the early church was to get together to edify one another for the purpose of doing ministry.

Key Features There are some key features that should be pointed out in this book. The first is that each chapter builds upon a purpose that is outlined in the beginning of the book. It gives suggested ways to implement the five purposes of the church. Second, there are several examples from the Saddleback church on key concepts such as a purpose statement, the members covenant, and the scriptural basis for the five purposes Third, the use of the concentric circles to explain the church commitment and the baseball diamond to explain the life development of a member. Fourth, is the explanation of how to develop a target that the church will pursue. It understands the typical person that will explain a particular church's demographic. These four key features are what make this book a tool that can be used in any church setting to promote growth.

Audience that Would Profit from Reading This is an excellent book for anyone in seminary that is going into the pastorate. There are principles in this book that can be applied to any church. There are many great points that outweigh the parts that need to be cautioned against. A second audience that can benefit from reading this book are church leaders that help in implementing the vision of the pastor. These could include but are not limited to deacons, elder boards,
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advisory boards, and discipleship teachers. Third, this book would be good for any church that has possibly started to decline or plateaued. It can help them rediscover the purpose of the church.

Conclusion Rick Warren did accomplish the purpose of writing his book. He set out to show that the Church has a purpose and that it must be purpose driven. Overall the book is well written and thought out. The strength of showing how to become purpose driven and the key feature of the baseball diamond and concentric circles can really help illustrate Rick Warrens main point. . If one heeds the cautions mentioned in the weaknesses then this book is an excellent book. The fear that this author has though is that the average lay minister may not be able to see the weaknesses and believe that this book should be followed to the letter. It is this authors opinion that it is the responsibility of the leaders (pastors) to bring balance to this book when trying to implement the principles contained in it. This author would recommend this book based upon this caution.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1995. Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission. Zondervan, 1995Grand Rapids, Mich. Angel Fire. http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/ddd_chc82/articles/purposedrivenchurch_revie w.html (accessed September 15, 2011).

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