At Saddleback, we're always experimenting with new ways to help our people grow spiritually and to reach out to our community. Every once in a while, we stumble across something that really produces a significant spiritual harvest, and we obediently share it with other churches.
In our 23-year history, nothing has produced more life change in our church than 40 Days of Purpose. In those 40 days, we baptized 671 new believers, added almost 1,200 new members, and increased our average attendance by 2,000. Those 40 days transformed our church and mobilized our members in ways we never dreamed.
And we've seen the success of 40 Days of Purpose reproduced again and again in churches across the United States and throughout the world. Hundreds of pastors and lay leaders are writing us, saying, "Our church will never be the same," or "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to our church." One pastor wrote, "I've seen more growth in our members in the last 40 days than in the last 13 years."
This track record for changed lives and churches is reflective of five transforming principles contained within the 40 Days of Purpose campaign:
The Bible says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." Months of prayer preparation precede this journey. This is an indispensable ingredient. Many churches schedule days of fasting to prepare their hearts for awakening. Jesus said there is mountain-moving power in unified prayer.
During 40 Days of Purpose, the entire church-every age group, every ministry, every small group or Sunday school class, and every worship service-focuses on the same thing together: God's purposes for our lives. Most of the time, church programs point members in twenty different directions. It is amazing what happens when your church concentrates on the same truth at the same time.
We designed this journey around four vital habits that everyone needs to grow spiritually: the habit of weekly worship attendance, a daily quiet time, a weekly group Bible study, and a weekly Scripture memory verse. These will keep your people growing long after 40 Days of Purpose is finished.
Each of the messages are designed to cause people to become "doers of the Word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22) Each sermon has either a homework assignment, or event after the service, like the Ministry Fair or Missions Fair, where members can take action on what they've learned.
This kind of thinking stretches your faith. It is thinking so big that you are forced to completely depend on God because you know you cannot reach your goal on your own power. This "faith factor" is what takes the 40 Days of Purpose out of the realm of "What we've always done" or "What we think we could do" and instead expects God to do something that's never been done before in your church.
This campaign is all about the Kingdom of God, fulfilling his agenda in his world. Nothing brings more glory to God than having his churches, small groups, and his people fulfilling his Purposes. Because 40 Days of Purpose is about God's Kingdom, it is much bigger than any individual, church or denomination. We must work together "to serve God's purpose in our generation." (Acts. 13:36)
I hope and pray that your church won't miss out on this movement of God. I invite you to join us. We're waiting to partner with you on the journey of a lifetime!
This article is used by permission from From Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for those in ministry. www.pastors.com.