In our book Rebuilt, I wrote about a significant experience while attending a conference at Saddleback Church in California. After sitting through a tough and challenging talk about what it takes to become a healthy, growing church, I stormed out in self-righteous rage. Eventually, though, I came to realize I had just been personally called out by Pastor Rick Warren. I went back in, though, took my seat, and decided to listen. He changed my mind and heart about what being a pastor is all about.
I learned a lot that trip, about myself as a pastor and about the way we do church. And I learned that despite the differences when it comes to our Catholic and Evangelical traditions, we are really on the same team. We are all called to make disciples.
Rick talks about what he calls the five purposes of the Church (not in any particular order): Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Mission. This takes a unique shape in our Catholic tradition, especially in our celebration of the sacraments, but the basic idea remains the same across the Christian family – we do what Jesus taught his disciples to do.
Since then, Rick and his team have been a blessing to us, time and again, graciously extending support and encouragement.
And, over the years, we attended many more Purpose Driven Conferences, until, a few years ago, Rick decided to take a break.
About a month ago Rick decided he wanted to revive the conference, and this time he invited us to be a part of the presenting team, the first time ever a Catholic church has been accorded such an invitation.
This week, Purpose Driven Church 2016 brought together
about 3,000 church leaders from everywhere, with general sessions by Rick himself and breakout sessions by Saddleback staff and guest speakers. Rick invited Tom, my associate, and I to offer two of the breakouts on growing a “Purpose Driven” church from a Catholic perspective.
But the real surprise and honor was to join Rick on the main stage for a general session, together with another pastor from India. I think he was trying to emphasize the universality and diversity of the Church of Christ. Anyway, it was a blast and a day not to forget.
The bottom line, I think, is that it is possible God wants to use his whole Church, all of us, to advance the Kingdom in our generation. Maybe, we can be the first generation since the Reformation, 500 years ago next year, to serve the Lord together.