Driven to Devotion
By Rick Warren
For churches interested in continuing growth, successfully reaching out to the unchurched is matter of shifting perspective — seeing the church from an “outsider’s” point of view. Of course, that’s backwards thinking for many churches, who struggle to make might- be members see the church exactly the same way they do. An impossible feat for those who don’t yet know Christ.
Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church and best-selling author of The Purpose-Driven Church, believes growing churches focus more on what newcomers need to hear than on what seasoned Christians typically want to tell them. “Most unbelievers,” says Warren, “are looking for relief, not another version of ‘the truth.” Not exactly a new phenomenon. Warren points out that “Jesus often established a beachhead for evangelism in a person’s life by meeting a felt need… God uses all kinds of human needs to get people’s attention.” Warren’s philosophy is backed by years of research, observation and personal experience: in just 15 years, Saddleback grew from one family to 10,000 in worship attendance. Attracting a following that sizable wasn’t (and still isn’t) a matter of gimmicks; it’s a matter of prioritizing. By dealing first with people’s needs, hurts, and interests, Jesus made His message one of compassion and relevance. He drew people to Him by loving them — not by boring or browbeating them into submission.
The caveat, however, is be seeker- sensitive without being seeker-driven. The leadership of Granger Community Church is careful not to confuse the two. The mindset is straightforward: “People need to know they matter to us before they can hear that they matter to God.” Rob Wegner, Granger’s pastor of life development and a previous keynote speaker at Saddleback’s Purpose-Driven Church Conference, echoes Warren’s conviction that, to teach as Jesus did, we must make the message interesting. Not diluted. Not “dumbed-down.” Just relevant and intriguing. After all, Jesus was a master storyteller who captivated His audiences — our perfect teaching example.
Five Things People Want to Know About Your Church:
1. Do I fit here? [Read: acceptance]
2. Does anybody want to know me? [Read: friendship]
3. Am I needed? [Read: benefit]
4. What is the advantage of joining? [Read: expectation]
5. What is required of members? [Read: expectations]
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”