Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CTSJ 6:2 (April 2000) p. 50
The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission. By Rick Warren. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995. 399 pp., $24.95. Reviewed by Dr. Stephen Lewis, Professor of Church History, Chafer Theological Seminary, Orange, CA.
Many churches today are looking for a new model for church growth. This is Christendom’s version of keeping up with the Joneses. In the 50’s and 60’s it was church bus programs that said “if you want church growth, then get on the bus.” In the 70’s it was the introduction of church musicals designed to reach youth. In the 80’s it was the Willowcreek model of “giving the people what they want and they will flock to your doors.” Each of these has made a dent in the non-churched or pre-believer population and excited church members as well. What makes The Purpose Driven Church so interesting is that it encourages each church to discover its purpose, then, based upon that purpose, to market itself to the public:
Our sanity and survival depended upon developing a workable process to turn seekers into saints, turn consumers into contributors, turn members into ministers, and turn an audience into an army. Believe me, it is an incredibly difficult task to lead people from self-centered consumerism to being servant-hearted Christians.1
In the face of such a post-modern dilemma, Rick Warren believes that desiring to discover what the Bible says (in general terms) about the purpose of the church is not sufficient. According to The Purpose Driven Church, what one needs is a
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model custom-fitted to each local church formulated in accordance with both scripture and the specific circumstance of the local church.
Creating the Purpose Driven Church
Warren asserts that one of the following drives every church: tradition, personality, finances, programs, buildings, events, or seekers. Since nothing precedes purpose,2 he offers what he sees as the biblical alternative. When asked, “Why does the church exist?”3 89% of church-goers said, “The church’s purpose is to take care of my family’s and my needs.” Only 11% said, “The purpose of the church is to win the world for Jesus Christ.” Furthermore, if the pastor and congregation disagree on why the church exists, conflict on everything else is inevitable.4 The real solution to such misguided priorities and conflict is biblically-sound teaching, not a new program. <...
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