The purpose driven paradigm pioneered by Rick Warren first appeared on print in his previous book, The Purpose Driven Church, which came out in 1995. The Purpose Driven Church paradigm of growth is likewise based on five Biblical principles, which has been adopted by tens of thousands of churches. More than 320,000 pastors from over 20 countries have been trained in the Purpose-Driven Church strategy.
The book has sold over one million copies sold in 21 languages. It won the prestigious Gold Medallion award in 1996 and was selected as one of the "100 Christian Books that changed the 20th Century." Forbes magazine publisher Rich Karlgaard called it "the best book ever on entrepreneurship, business, and investment."
12 Characteristics of a PD Church
Over the last decade and a half we have watched how PD principles transform a leadership team and their church. We've found that the growth of PD in a church depends on many factors that are within a leadership's control. However, we have found there are several PD characteristics that always seem to be apparent (in greater or lesser degree) from church to church as a team rolls out PD in their church. The list below highlights several outcomes that might help you see what sort of impact PD can have in your church.
1. They have a purpose statement that describes (in their own words) their commitment to building the church around the five New Testament purposes: worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry.
2. They use a Purpose Driven strategy to fulfill their purpose statement. While using a variety of terms, a Purpose Driven strategy brings people to Christ and into membership in His family, builds them up to maturity, equips them for ministry in the church, and sends them out on a life mission in the world in order to bring glory to God. The PD strategy is based on two vital assumptions: 1) people grow best when you allow them to make gradual commitments; and 2) you must ask for commitment in specific ways, such as using covenants.
3. They organize around a Purpose Driven structure, which insures balance and gives equal emphasis to all five New Testament purposes. PD churches are team-based, rather than hierarchical in structure. They organize around purpose-based teams, (at least five?one for each purpose) composed of lay leaders and staff, with each team responsible for a specific purpose and target group (such as the community, the crowd, the congregation, the committed, and the core).
4. They program by purpose. They have at least one program for fulfilling each of the five purposes and each of the corresponding constituencies. They evangelize the Community, gather the Crowd for worship, fellowship in the Congregation, disciple the Committed, and equip the Core for ministry and mission.
5. They staff by purpose. Every purpose has its own champion. PD churches begin by finding volunteers to lead and serve on each purpose-based team, and develop full time, paid positions as needed.
6. The pastor preaches by purpose. Messages and series are planned to insure the congregation receives a balanced emphasis on each of the purposes.
7. They form small groups on purpose. The PD DNA is implanted in every cell of the Body of Christ. Each small group helps the members fulfill each of the five purposes in their lives. The goal is to help every believer live a purpose-driven life.
8. They calendar by purpose. The purposes are the determining factor in deciding what events are scheduled. Every event must fulfill at least one of the five purposes or it isn't approved.
9. They budget by purpose. Every expenditure is categorized by the purpose it relates to.
10. They build by purpose. Buildings are seen as ministry tools, not monuments. They must serve the purposes, and never become more important than the purposes.
11. They evaluate by purpose. They regularly ask: Are we balancing all five purposes? Is there a better way to fulfill each purpose?
12. Most PD churches are built from the outside-in, rather than from the inside-out. It's far easier to turn a crowd into a core, than it is to turn a core group into a crowd. You build a healthy multi-dimensional ministry by focusing on one level of commitment at a time.