2nd 'Purpose Driven Church' simulcast draws 20,000 viewers

DALLAS (BP)--At least 20,000 pastors, church staff members and lay leaders participated in a "Purpose Driven Church" simulcast Nov. 13, the second of such live national teaching broadcasts in less than seven full months sponsored by Purpose Driven Ministries of California's Saddleback Valley Community Church.

The broadcast went out live from a host church in Dallas to 152 satellite sites located in all 50 U.S. states and six Canadian provinces, with 53 denominations and about 2,000 churches represented.

Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback, taught his purpose-driven church principles in the one-day seminar while on location at Concord Missionary Baptist Church, Dallas, where E. K. Bailey is pastor. Since 1982, Bailey has been sponsoring the Institute on Church Growth Conference to help African American churches improve their administrative and Christian operations through shared leadership.

For this simulcast, PDM, an international mission project of Saddleback, also sent out 80 simulcast ambassadors, "lay ministers from Saddleback sent out in pairs to be on-site coordinators," said Doug Slaybaugh, executive director of PDM and Saddleback's pastor of mission.

The simulcast was based on information in Warren's best-selling book, "The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission," which has sold more than 1 million copies and has been translated into 14 languages since it was first published by Zondervan in 1995. In his PDC simulcasts and conferences Warren discusses the need for the church to be built on five biblical purposes: worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship and ministry. One of Warren's basic principles is "healthy churches naturally grow."

Testimonies received on the PDM Internet site following the simulcast included the report of a pastor in Lake Zurich, Ill., who said his church's attendance plateaued at 200 a few years ago. He said he attended one of the original PDC conferences at Saddleback and implemented Warren's "baseball diamond" philosophy of church health, and now he is reaching his goal of 1,000 people by the year 2000.

Another minister wrote that he has seen his church attendance increase from 170 to 1,000 in the past two years, "and all through the process we have referred to 'the bible of church health': PDC," the minister wrote.

"Thanks, everyone [at PDM] who makes it happen," wrote another pastor. "Like food dropped onto the plains of a famine-gripped land, pastors like me, hungry for things that work, rip open the packages and hope is reborn."

The ultimate goal of the simulcasts -- together with the books, tapes, DVDs and the website, www.purposedriven.com -- is the development of a continuity program, Slaybaugh said, "an ongoing program that will utilize all of the technology available in assisting both pastors and their church leaders in implementing the Purpose Driven Church principles for church health and balance by walking their churches through the four stages of renewal: personal, purpose, congregational and structure." A pilot study of this continuity program is currently under way with 60 United Methodist churches in Kentucky.

The nominal registration fees collected from any PDM event or its resources are channeled back into encouraging more purpose-driven ministry, Slaybaugh said. For instance, PDM has purchased the simulcast broadcast receivers for 100 sites to be permanent simulcast locations for a variety of PDC events.

PDM also annually sponsors the Purpose Driven Church Health Awards, with the six 1999 recipients receiving not only a $5,000 grant for each church, but also a trip for two from each church to attend the next PDC conference at Saddleback, to be held May 16-19, 2000. Overviews of the ministries of each of the 1999 recipients can be seen at the PDM website.

Warren, who started Saddleback with only seven people nearly 20 years ago, said he sees his church as a type of research-and-development lab for Christianity. Saddleback, now one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, averages nearly 15,000 in church attendance through Warren's purpose-driven focus.

As other pastors became curious over the years about the growth at his church, Warren shared his principles with them. He determined from the beginning not to have "transfer growth" at his church, as Christians transfer their membership from one church to another. He wanted to "go out after the total pagan, the unchurched who wouldn't be caught dead [in any other church]." Saddleback, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in January 2000, counts nearly 75 percent of its current church membership as people who made a profession of faith while they were attending Saddleback and were baptized there.

The new one-day simulcast version of Warren's PDC principles was originally a five-day seminar that Warren and his staff taught for several years only on the Saddleback campus. More than 150,000 pastors and church staff members attended those original PDC conferences. Since many more pastors said they weren't able to get to California, Warren started teaching by simulcast this year. His first national simulcast was on April 24, broadcasting live to 75 cities in North America, from a host church in San Antonio, Texas, Max Lucado's Oak Hills Church of Christ. Although that simulcast was actually a pilot project, registration hit 36,000.

Warren said he views the use of technology as the most effective way to coach people, specifically other ministers. Besides the creation of the simulcasts and DVDs (digital video disks) in a variety of languages, he also has developed an extensive website with pastors in mind and even named for them. At www.pastors.net, ministers can find information about both previous and upcoming PDC events, including the associated tapes, books and photos, as well as a multitude of other resources, such as free e-mail service, chat lines and messages boards specifically for ministers, which just became available Nov. 15.

The next nationwide satellite simulcast will be the beginning of a two-part series, to be held March 28 and concluded May 2, with Warren teaching his latest development, "Purpose Driven Preaching for Changed Lives." Another simulcast is scheduled in the spring on April 8, with Doug Fields, Saddleback's youth minister, scheduled to present a one-day seminar on the principles in his new book, "Purpose Driven Youth Ministry."

For more information or to register, see the website, www.purposedriven.com, or call Purpose Driven Ministries at (949) 609-8701.

Color photos to accompany this article are posted on the PDM website.

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