Purpose-driven churches are led by purpose-driven leaders. I believe purpose-driven leaders balance God's purposes – not only in their own lives – but also within the churches they lead.
One way to illustrate this is by telling you about my life verse, Acts 13:36, where we're told David was purpose-driven: "David served God's purpose in his own generation, then he died ...." I cannot image a greater epitaph.Imagine having that statement inscribed on your tombstone: "He served God's purpose in his own generation!" You could receive no greater honor than that in my opinion!
So how do you do that? He served God's purpose ...
God's purpose for the Church is also his purpose for every Christian. As individual followers of Christ we are to use our lives in worship, ministry, evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship. The Church allows us to do it together. We are not alone in serving Him.
That's why I love the Church with all of my heart. It's the most brilliant concept ever created. It has outlasted cultures, governments, skeptics, enemies from within and without, and it will continue to do so until Jesus returns. We must love the Church as Christ does and we must teach others to love the Church also. "... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ... After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- for we are members of his body." (Eph. 5:25, 29-30)
In his own generation ...
The truth is you can't serve God in any other generation except your own! You may want to - but it's only wishful thinking. We cannot bring back the past. Ministry must always be done in the context of the current generation and culture. Whether we like it or not, we must minister to people in the culture as it really is - not in some past form that we may have idol-ized in our minds.
David's ministry was both relevant and timely. He did it "in his generation." He served God's purpose - which is eternal and unchanging - in his generation, which was the contemporary context for him. He served the timeless in a timely way.
He was both orthodox and contemporary. He was both biblical and relevant.
We must be the same. We must be contemporary without compromising the truth. With every new generation, the rules change a little. If we always do what we've always done, we'll always be where we've always been. The past is behind us. We can only live in today and prepare for tomorrow.
How do you measure success in ministry?
One well-known definition of successful evangelism goes like this:
"Sharing the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God."
I'd like to adapt that statement and offer a definition of successful ministry: Successful ministry is Building the church on the purposes of God in the power of the Holy Spirit and EXPECTING the results from God.
I don't know how the final chapters of Saddleback's story will be written but I am confident of this: "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:6 NIV)
God finishes whatever he starts.
He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. God will continue to fulfill his purpose at Saddleback and in every other church that is purpose-driven.
Jesus said, "According to your faith it will be done to you." (Matt. 9:29) This is what I call the "faith factor" in growing churches. There are many factors that influence your ministry that you had no control over: your background, nationality, age, giftedness. These were determined by the sovereignty of God.
But there is one important factor that you do have a control over: how much you choose to believe God! As I've studied growing churches for over twenty years, I've discovered one great common denominator found in every growing church, regardless of denomination or location: leadership that is not afraid to believe God.
Growing churches are led by leaders who expect their congregation to grow.
They are people of faith who believe the promises of God, even in discouraging times. This is the secret behind everything that has happened at Saddleback church. We have believed God for big miracles, and we've expected him to use us - by grace through faith. That is our choice. It's your choice too.
Sometimes a church's situation looks hopeless from a human standpoint. But I am firmly convinced - as Ezekiel's experience (Ezekiel 37) proved - that no matter how dry the bones may be, God can breathe new life into them! Any church can come alive if we allow the Spirit to infuse us with a new sense of his purpose. That is what the purpose-driven church is all about.
My hope is that – by balancing the five purposes in your life and in your church – you will have your faith strengthened, your vision stretched, and your love for Christ and his Church deepened. Accept the challenge of leading a purpose-driven life as you lead your church to be purpose-driven!
I believe the greatest churches in history are yet to be built.
Are you available for that task? I pray that God will use you to fulfill his purposes in your generation. There is no greater use of your life.
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.