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When I wrote The Purpose Driven Church, I made the bold assertion that every church is driven by something. That’s still true, and as you prepare to lead your church into another new year, you must decide what will drive your congregation.

I can predict with certainty that in the next year, some churches will be driven by tradition. The year 2014 won’t look much different than any other year, other than a few new faces and some tweaks here and there. Others will be driven by personalities and politics. Still other churches will be driven by debt, by the shape of their buildings or by a ministry structure so large and so inflexible that fresh growth will be difficult.

Healthy churches, however, will be driven by God’s purposes next year. These churches will focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, and they’ll discover that God wants His church to fulfill five purposes:

  • Worship. Healthy churches will magnify the name of Jesus in all that they do.
  • Evangelism. Healthy churches will focus on the mission of introducing unchurched people to Jesus.
  • Fellowship. Healthy churches will bring people into membership in God’s family, the church.
  • Discipleship. Healthy churches will help people become more like Christ.
  • Ministry. Healthy churches will help people discover their SHAPE for serving others.

Leading your church into health and growth in the next year won’t depend on launching a bunch of new programs and ministries. It will depend on designing and working through a process for making fully mature, reproducing disciples so that you can help people move from the community into your crowd, from the crowd into your congregation, from being part of your congregation to being fully committed, and from being committed into the core of your church.

These are the basic, biblical concepts behind what it means to be a purpose-driven church. In the next year, I want to help you and your church to discover how to do this in your ministry context so that it will be the greatest year of growth you’ve ever experienced. And growth is far more than numbers. We can grow larger, but we can also grow deeper, broader, warmer and stronger.

As you begin to review this past year of ministry, ask yourself the question: What has driven us this year? If it’s anything other than God’s purposes, right now is the best time to refocus and align your church’s ministry with the heart and the purposes of God.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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