Chapter 5 of The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren is, perhaps, the most important chapter in the entire book. In this chapter, Warren provides some guidelines for, in the case of a new church, defining a church's purpose, or in the case of plateaued or declining churches, redefining that purpose. The first step in that process is, I think, the most critical: Study what the Bible says. At Stowe Community Church we spent one small group session discussing the Scriptures that Warren suggests looking at. Here are the references for those Scriptures: Matthew 5:13-16; 9:35; 11:28-30;16:15-19; 18:19-20; 22:36-40; 24:14; 25:34-40; 28:18-20; Mark 10:43-45; Luke 4:18-19; 4:43-45; John 4:23; 10:14-18;13:34-35; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2:41-47; 4:32-35; 5:42; 6:1-7; Romans 12:1-8; 15:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:1; Galatians 5:13-15; 6:1-2; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:6; 3:14-21; 4:11-16; 5:23-24; Colossians 1:24-28; 3:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; 13:7; 13:17; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 1 John 1:5-7; 4:7-21.
The second step Warren recommends, after studying these Scriptures, is to Look for answers to four questions:
- Why does the church exist?
- What are we to be as a church?
- What are we to do as a church?
- How are we to do it.
The next step, after answering these questions is to: Put your findings in writing. Then, finally: Summarize your conclusions in a sentence.
I would love to know what YOU come up with after following these steps. Please let me know in the comments.
Warren also suggests four guidelines by which to judge an effective purpose statement:
- It is biblical.
- It is specific.
- It is transferable (short enough to be remembered and transferred from person to person)
- It is measurable.
I wonder, how does your church purpose statement measure up to these guidelines?
Right now, I am preaching a series on Acts 2:42-47 and you can listen to those messages here: The Fivefold Purpose of the Church.