We have begun reading and discussing "The Purpose Driven Church" by Rick Warren at Stowe Community Church. We are using this book as a catalyst to re-define our purpose as a church, to formulate a new vision, strategy, and goals. The Lord used this book in a previous church I served to jump-start us along the same journey and we were blessed to see that congregation grow from 40 to 200 in attendance on Sunday mornings.
So far, the reading and discussion of this book in the context of Stowe has been very stimulating. My hope is to blog about my reading as we make our way through the book, for my benefit, for the benefit of the people of Stowe, and for anyone else who may happen to read this blog. I find that Rick Warren's work is a valuable contribution to what C. S. Lewis called "mere Christianity".
For starters, let me simply say I love the image that Warren uses at the beginning of the book. The title of the introductory chapter is: "Surfing Spiritual Waves". I grew up in Southern California and though I was never a surfer I can still relate to the image. Warren makes the point that only God can make a wave. It is the job of the surfer to simply be on the lookout for the wave that is coming, catch, and ride it as best he or she can. Warren applies this image to church growth. Only God can make the church grow. However, if we are attentive as church leaders, we can identify spiritual waves of receptivity, revival, and renewal, and furthermore, we can learn how to catch and ride such waves for God's glory.
That is what I hope to be doing in Stowe. It is a place with no physical ocean waves, but I am already sensing the spiritual waves of receptivity to God in this place, and I hope to catch and ride some of those waves for as long as God will have me in this place. I hope and pray it is a long, good ride.....