Through the years Victory Church has become very clear and very focused on what we are trying to do. Why have we become so fixated on a single strategy? It is, first of all, because we have embraced the Lord’s Great Commission as our own. Making disciples is the driving force behind everything we do. Second, it’s because we have overwhelming confirmation in our own experience that this one move, if mastered, is unstoppable and indefensible. I believe all churches and ministries can grow if only they master a discipleship process that is simple, biblical and transferable. I know of churches that are missing many seemingly important things such as nice buildings, good music equipment, support staff, big givers and dynamic preachers. Yet they’re still growing because they are making disciples.
Churches can be blessed with all those seemingly important things and become completely consumed with activities that have nothing to do with making disciples. Our goal is to make our small groups and everything else we do support our discipleship process.
Unfortunately, crowded church calendars often compete with discipleship. No activity is neutral. We recognize that everything we do and say will either underline or undermine our discipleship process.
—From WikiChurch: Making Discipleship Engaging, Empowering & Viral by Steve Murrell
We’ve done the legwork for you. Here’s everything you need to know to create and customize a VBS experience for your church and community.
Hip-Hop Hope: Jesus Makes Me Glad
Theme: Hip-hop culture is global! Surprisingly, its original goal was “Love, Peace, Unity and Having Fun!” Hip-Hop Hope: Jesus Makes Me Glad offers Jesus as the ultimate DJ who scratches out new songs of hope.
ANSWERS IN GENESIS
The Kingdom Chronicles: Standing Strong in the Battle for Truth
Theme: With The Kingdom Chronicles VBS, brave knights and fair maidens will be equipped to put on the full armor of God so they can stand strong in the battle for truth.
The Mighty God: God Leads Moses and Me
Theme: This study from the book of Exodus explores how God led Moses through the perils of his life and remained faithful to him in extreme circumstances. Children will learn the ways that God loves us, calls us, saves us guides us and cares for us.
Everywhere Fun Fair: Where God’s World Comes Together
Theme: Everywhere Fun Fair is a global celebration with the look and feel of a world's fair. Children will discover that God’s love can be found everywhere—even in their own neighborhoods.
CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE
Tell It on the Mountain: Where Jesus Christ Is Lord
Theme: Get ready for a mountaintop experience! At Tell It on the Mountain, children will learn about the one true God through five mountaintop Bible accounts. This VBS features active Bible storytelling, energetic songs and Peak Performance videos for opening and closing.
(CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE)
Aventuras Glaciales (Cool Adventures)
Theme: Five children receive a surprise trip and receive great gifts from God: forgiveness, salvation, joy, life and hope.
SonWest Roundup: A Rip-Roarin’ Good Time With Jesus!
Theme: This comprehensive VBS package uses a Wild West backdrop to help kids discover Jesus in the stories of Moses.
GOSPEL PUBLISHING HOUSE
MEGA Sports Camp: Breaking Free
Theme: Teaching kids biblical principles and builds character through their favorite sports activities, this church-led program is fully adaptable to suit any church’s size, volunteers and facilities.
Athens: Paul’s Dangerous Journey to Share the Truth
Theme: Imagine leaving a life of privilege and power to face angry mobs, painful imprisonment and chain-breaking earthquakes—all to spread the life-changing truth of God’s love. Learn the jaw-dropping story of the apostle Paul—straight from Paul himself!
Kingdom Rock: Where Kids Stand Strong for God
Theme: Enter the epic adventure that empowers kids to stand strong. At Kingdom Rock VBS, God’s victorious power isn’t a fairy tale.
LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN RESOURCES
Backyard Kids Club
Theme: Take VBS outside the church and into your community with Backyard Kids Club.
LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN RESOURCES
Club VBS: Jungle Jaunt
Theme: Based on Psalm 145:1-2, kids will learn to praise, trust and follow the one true God through the wild.
LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN RESOURCES
Colossal Coaster World: Facing Fear, Trusting God
Theme: Using 2 Timothy 1:7, Colossal Coaster World VBS will challenge kids to face their fears and trust God as they zip along the roller coaster of life.
Breathe It In: God Gives Life
Theme: Children are invited to discover the life-giving breath of God. Through Bible stories on breath and wind, children will explore how God’s own breath was used to create people, and how the wind of the Spirit helped the young church grow.
REGULAR BAPTIST PRESS
Investigation Destination: Follow Clues to the King of Kings
Theme: Investigation Destination turns VBS students into secret agents—investigators on a special mission to discover clues about a special person, the King of Kings. The objective: Prepare students for the return of the King, challenging them to believe in Jesus and accept Him as Savior and then to choose to trust, follow, love, obey and serve Him. Those who know the Savior will want to tell others about Jesus, our wonderful King.
God’s Backyard Bible Camp Under the Stars
Theme: Get ready for outdoor adventure under the shimmer of starlight that starts in your own backyard and gets bigger each day as kids take the love of Jesus into their homes, neighborhoods and communities.
God’s Backyard Bible Camp Under the Sun
Theme: Get ready for a sunny outdoor adventure that starts in your own backyard and gets bigger each day as kids take the love of Jesus into their homes, neighborhoods and communities.
URBAN MINISTRIES, INC.
Jesus Family Reunion: The Remix
Theme: Encouraging stronger relationships in spiritual and natural families through Jesus Christ. This program introduces family time for all 10 lessons, including We Believe!
We Encourage! We Forgive! We Protect! and We Give! Each lesson highlights a family from the Bible that dealt with the same struggles as families today.
Check out some links below to recent stories from Charisma News that you'll find interesting and informative. You can also sign up to receive stories on your smart phone by signing up for the free Charisma News app by clicking here.
Despite authoring one of the most successful books in history, the Saddleback Church pastor remains focused on something even greater
Rick Warren knows it’s not about him.
Because of this, it wasn’t a stretch for the pastor to begin The Purpose Driven Life with the now-famous line: “It’s not about you.” Indeed, as author of the No. 1 best-selling hardback book in American history other than the Bible, he’s reaped enormous rewards. Yet he’s also used that wealth to further God’s kingdom rather than his own.
First, Rick reimbursed his Saddleback Church for his salary since day one; and for years he has since “reverse tithed,” which means he gives 90 percent and lives on 10 percent. Rather than neglect his church, as many celebrity pastors tend to do, he remains very much hands-on—and that was obvious the day I visited Saddleback’s main campus in Lake Forest, Calif., a few months ago. That day, Rick preached an inspiring message and then baptized about 50 people after the service.
He remains a pastor’s pastor, which is why I invited him to be guest editor of this issue on knowing your life purpose. In a day when scandal among clergy is far too common, Rick is a shining example of what can be accomplished when a man knows his purpose in life. I hope you’re inspired as you read these articles, and that you share them with friends—either in print or online. In addition, we want to do our part to enlist your participation and thousands of others’ in his PEACE Plan to:
Plant faith communities
Equip servant leaders
Assist the poor
Care for the sick
Educate the next generation
To mark the 10th anniversary of The Purpose Driven Life’s release, he’s rereleased the book for a new generation and is focusing on encouraging the church to truly be the church through projects such as the PEACE Plan.
In a culture increasingly gone haywire, and at a time when most “successful” pastors are seemingly more concerned with being liked and making people feel good rather than sounding a prophetic alarm, Rick is a role model. He isn’t afraid to speak out. Though the liberal media doesn’t favor him more than any other Bible-believing leader, at least they can’t blast him for saying off-the-wall things. He’s savvy yet sticks to the Word of God. And he does this while battling behind the scenes some enormous challenges that would crush many men or neutralize their influence.
I believe part of this favor is because Rick doesn’t just rail against the culture but offers solutions. He pastors one of the nation’s largest churches in arguably the most liberal state in the Union. Yet by every indication—in reading about it and visiting firsthand—Saddleback is growing, healthy and making a true difference.
The articles here from Rick and his staff are meant to inspire you to do the same wherever you are. I ask you to not only read them but also devour them, meditate on how they apply to you and resolve to put them into practice. But don’t stop with print. Visit ministrytodaymag.com to read fresh content each day during January and February on this issue’s theme of knowing your life purpose.
You can also get this 24/7 on our free Charisma News app, available at any app store or by texting “charisma” to 24587. Once on the app, click the “Ministry” tab to read content directly related to the ministry world. In addition, you’ll have access to breaking news and spiritual insight from Charisma News, daily devotionals and other good stuff. We recently added this tab to the app and are experimenting to see how many people use it. Eventually we may develop an app exclusively for Ministry Today. So let us know what you think by downloading the app, using it and giving us your comments.
You’ll also be interested in Daniel Kolenda’s article on finding God’s will. Though it’s the lone entry from a non-Saddleback contributor, it fits perfectly with this issue’s theme. Look for more from Daniel, who is Reinhard Bonnke’s successor at Christ for All Nations, online at ministrytodaymag.com, where we’re also giving away copies of his new book, Live Before You Die.
Ultimately, I hope all these resources help you either discover or reaffirm your life purpose.
At some point we’ve all questioned why we’re alive. Whether you or someone you know is struggling to find their life mission, here are five specific purposes for which God created us.
Everyone in your congregation wants to know if life really matters. Members, visitors, even your staff want to know:
What on earth am I here for?
Essentially, they’re asking three basic questions. First, there’s the question of existence: Why am I alive? For thousands of years people have asked this question. Many people of the Bible did. Jeremiah asked: “Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow, to end my life in disgrace?” (20:18, GNT).
Second, there’s the question of significance: Is there some meaning and purpose to my life? Is all that I’m doing just a waste of time and energy? Is my life significant?
In Psalm 89, David remembers how short his life—and every human life—is and asks God: “Why did You create us? For nothing?” (see v. 47).
Job also asked the question, “Why should I work so hard for nothing?” (see Job 9:29). In other words, if there’s no meaning and purpose, why am I even doing this?
Solomon, in all his wisdom, questioned the significance of pleasure. In Ecclesiastes 2:2, he says: “Laughing and having fun is crazy. What good does it do?” (CEV). We all want to know: “Is there any significance to what I do? Why keep going?” Without meaning, life is petty, trivial and pointless.
Third, there’s the question of intention. Is there a purpose for my life? Isaiah said this: “My work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose” (49:4, NLT).
The British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, who described himself as an atheist, said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of the purpose of life is meaningless.” In other words, if there is no God, there is no grand scheme or significance to anything. If there is no God, your birth was an accident. You simply represent a random chance. If there is no God, there is no right or wrong and no heaven or hell.
This is why it is so important for us to teach our people that God made each one of us for a purpose. They need to know that nothing matters more than knowing God’s purpose for their lives, and nothing can compensate for not knowing it—not success, wealth, fame or pleasure.
We need to teach that without purpose life is motion without meaning, activity without direction and events without reason—yet underscore that it is never too late for any of us to discover our God-ordained purpose. People need to understand God makes everything with a purpose. Every plant has a purpose; every animal has a purpose.
Our people need to grasp the same truth about their lives. We should teach them: “If you are alive, it means God has a purpose for your life.”
The New Testament teaches that God created each of us for five purposes. These are explained by Jesus in the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:35-40) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19), were demonstrated by the early church in Acts 2, explained by Paul in Ephesians 4, and prayed about by Jesus in John 17. Here they are, briefly summarized:
1) Planned for God’s Pleasure
The first purpose of your life is this: You were planned for God’s pleasure. I think the two words that best describe the Christian life are love affair. God wants you to know Him and to love Him. Everything else is secondary to that purpose.
There is a word for how we express love to God: It’s called worship. Worship is both expressing love to God and living a life that’s pleasing to Him.
You know, there’s a big myth in Christianity. In the minds of most Christians the word worship is a synonym for “music.” We say things like, “Well, I liked the message, but I really liked the worship”—as if the message wasn’t worship.
Worship is more than music. It is everything you do that brings pleasure to God or glorifies Him. Your whole life is to be a life of worship.
2) Formed for God’s Family
Just as worship brings God pleasure because He wants us to love Him, fellowship with other believers brings God pleasure because we’re formed for God’s family.
One of the most misunderstood ideas about the Christian life is that it’s just a matter of believing. But God says: “No, you’re not just ‘believers’; you’re also ‘belongers.’”
You belong in the family of God.
Did you know that the term one another is used 58 times in the New Testament? Love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, exhort one another, encourage one another, greet one another, and on and on and on. God wants you to care for other people. That’s called fellowship. Enjoying God’s family is called fellowship. It’s the second purpose for your life.
3) Created to Be Like Christ
You were planned for God’s pleasure (worship), and you were formed for God’s family (fellowship).
Here’s the third reason God made you: You were created to be like Christ. It’s called discipleship. God made you in order to transform you into a likeness of His son, Jesus Christ. God is far more interested in what you are than what you do. He’s far more interested in your “being” than in your “doing.”
A lot of people ask, “What is God’s will for my life in my job or my career?” Know what? You probably could have two dozen different careers and God would think that’s fine. He is more interested in your character, and I’ll tell you why: You are not taking your career with you when you die; but you are taking your character into eternity.
There is no problem you have that you can’t grow from if you’ll learn the right response for it. If you respond to it the way God wants you to, then you become like Jesus. This is God’s third purpose for your life.
4) Shaped for Service
The fourth purpose is this: You were shaped for service. God made you to serve Him. You’re planned for God’s pleasure; that’s worship. You’re formed for a family; that’s fellowship. You’re created to be like Christ; that’s discipleship. And you’re shaped for service; that’s called ministry.
Every Christian is created to serve—called to ministry, created for ministry, saved for ministry and gifted for ministry. The Bible makes it very clear that every Christian is a minister (see 2 Cor. 5:17-19). Not every Christian is a pastor, but every Christian is a minister because to be Christ-like is to be a minister. You can’t be like Jesus Christ without serving others.
What is ministry? It is any way you use the abilities God has given you to help someone else in Jesus’ name. God uniquely wired you in a certain way for a purpose. God gave you your abilities—not for your benefit, but to use to bless other people.
5) Made for a Mission
The fifth reason you were put on this earth is that you were made for a mission. The apostle Paul was extremely passionate about this particular purpose. He says in Acts 20:24, “I only want to complete my mission and finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do” (GNT). And what did he say that work was? To tell people the good news about God’s grace.
Fulfilling your mission in the world—there’s a word for that in the Bible. It’s called evangelism. And it is the fifth purpose God has for your life.
My dad was a man on a mission. He was a pastor for 50 years, but a few years ago he died of cancer. The last week of his life he was delusional, very frail and had lost all this weight from cancer. One night he became agitated and tried to get out of bed.
My wife, Kay, said: “Jimmy, you can’t get out of bed. Lie back down, you’re very weak. You’re dying.”
But he tried again to get out of bed, and my wife said again, “No, please, lie back down in the bed.” She forced him back down in the bed and then asked him, “What is it you need?”
He said: “Gotta save one more for Jesus. Gotta save one more for Jesus. Gotta save one more for Jesus.” He said this over and over and in the next hour must have repeated it 100 times. “Gotta save one more for Jesus.”
As I sat there by his bedside, I put my head down, praying, and tears were running down my cheeks. My dad reached up and put his hand on my head—as if he were blessing me—and said: “Save one more for Jesus. Save one more for Jesus.”
I intend for that to be the theme of the rest of my life. And I invite you to make it the theme of your life. You were made for a mission.
The Bible says that David “served God’s purpose in his own generation” (Acts 13:36, NIV). I can’t think of a better epitaph. That’s what I want said about my life—that when I die people will say of me, “He served God’s purpose in his generation.”
And that’s what I want people to say about you. In this article I’ve shared from God’s Word what it means to live a life of purpose, a purpose-driven life. What are you going to do about it?