At this year’s Exponential Conference, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA) agreed to be interviewed by Todd Rhoades, Scott Hodge, and Chris Elrod. Rick Warren begins with eight minutes of valuable insight into creating effective discipleship. Below are highlights from the interview, which began with the following question:
Have you read the Reveal Study, and what is your take on the whole thing? (4:05)
The first year of the church I focused on growing the church. But then after I crashed and burned at the end of the first year, I said, “Okay, Lord. What do you want me to do?” And He said, “I want you to grow people.”
(5:10) The Purpose Driven strategy is not a church growth strategy. It is a spiritual maturity strategy. It’s bringing people closer and closer to Christ. First, you get them to know Christ, then to love Christ, then to love Christ’s family, then to grow in Christ, then to serve Christ, and then to share Christ. We’ve been doing this process for 28 years.
(6:00) The biggest mistake that churches make is we think that sermons will produce spiritual maturity. If people don’t take notes, they forget 95% of what they hear within 72 hours. That is not going to produce spiritual maturity.
(6:25) There are simple tools that Saddleback developed early on that have produced spiritual maturity. One of them was the outline. In our church for 28 years, people take notes every week, which means they go home with far more than they would if they didn’t take notes.
(7:10) The second thing is Saddleback is built on a series of five covenants. Jesus had a process by which He took people from no faith in Christ to deep disciple. The very first words of Jesus that He says to His disciples are “Come and see.” Now that’s the entry point for faith. What is the commitment level of “Come and see?” Nothing. Just show up. Sit in the back. Don’t sing anything, say anything, sacrifice anything. Just show up. But Jesus never left them there.
(8:10) And from “Come and see,” He took them through consistent steps. And all through the three and a half years of ministry, he is turning up the heat. And as they begin to follow Him, He starts saying, “You’re my disciple if…” And He redefines commitment. “You’re my disciple if you love one another.” “You’re my disciple if you bear fruit.” “You’re my disciple if you take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me.” And on and on, He’s turning up the heat.
(9:10) In those days, nobody took up a cross unless the Romans were going to nail him to it. So He’s saying, “Come and die.” There’s a huge difference in commitment between “Come and see” and “Come and die.” He doesn’t say “Come and die” at the very first. He takes three years into a relationship with them. And He’s moving them.
(9:50) Churches have not understood that commitment is sequential, systematic, and processed. And to move them from “Come and see” to “Come and die” is what Purpose Driven is all about.
(10:10) What happens is churches tend to be one or the other. You’re either a “Come and see” church or a “Come and die” church. And the “Come and see” churches bring them in the front door and win a lot of people to Christ, but they don’t deepen them to deeper levels of maturity. The “Come and die” church doesn’t reach anybody for Christ, and they’ve got their frozen chosen that they keep taking deeper and deeper and deeper. But those people have koinitis. They’re so close no one else can break into it.
(10:40) What a church has to do is see that “Come and see” and “Come and die” is the whole spectrum. And how do you get people from “Come and see” to “Come and die?” There are classes. There are covenants. There are commitments. There are cells. There’s coaching.
(11:05) It’s not just one-on-one. It’s not just one to small group. It’s not just one to big crowd. There is a combination. And you have to take into account that people learn in different ways. Most churches have not built the levels of learning into discipleship.
For more insights, watch the interview video. It also includes Rick Warren’s thoughts on the Southern Baptist Convention’s membership decline and more.
- What are your tips for effective discipleship?
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