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If I could be like Rick November 5, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

When Rick Warren got going out in California with Saddleback Church, he did something different. It was innovative, groundbreaking, edgy, relevant, and demoted denominational allegiance to a saner level.

I have been a part of three churches who have adopted the PDC model and none of them increased on lick in membership. Why is that? I mean, it works for Rick Warren, why not the churches I got to?

Well, I think I have a couple of reasons. Let me know what you think.

1. Rick Warren asked hard questions about God’s mission, his culture, and what he was willing to do. What so many of the churches who have adopted the PDC model do is focus on Rick Warren’s model. The thing is, if you focus on Rick Warren’s model you are not doing what he did. He didn’t copy someone; so ironically, by copying Rick Warren you are not doing what he did.

2. Rick Warren shed denominational allegiance in order to follow the mission of God. However, the churches I have seen adopt the PDC model have done it “Presbyterian style,” or “Church of Christ Style,” or something else. Again, this is the exact opposite of what happened with Rick Warrern.

3. Saddleback was a church plant. Every church I have known adopt this model is injecting it into an existing system.

4. Rick Warren’s PDC model is a means to an end, God’s mission. Churches adopting the model seem to view the model as the end. “When we get this into place we’ll be set.” Rick Warren seeks to innovate while these churches seek to arrive.

We are naive to think that by copying Rick Warren’s model that we are doing what he did. We are not. In fact, the more we copy the content of his model, the more we cripple our ability to use the process he used and innovate like he did. Much more important than the content of the model is the process of what it took to create it.

OK, that ‘s the critique. I do think, however, that churches adopting the PDC model have the chance of gaining in church health. Furthermore, some do launch out of their homeostasis.

Bottom line, it is all about the mission of God. How can we join in the continual, persistent, and ever-present mission of God?



1. Milton Stanley - November 7, 2005

Well, your analysis looks pretty well considered, and I think you’re right on every point, particularly about injecting a model for a church plant into an existing congregation.

From a purely doctrinal perspective, Saddleback’s training requirements before joining the church are a problem biblically. I don’t put as much weight on scriptural silence as many of our brethren, but this is one case where adding to the pictures laid out in the NT is not good. Someone’s eternal destiny depends on membership in the Body of Christ, and setting up training requirements, while practical for building a strong church, is a subtle denial of our mission.

2. Steve Jr. - November 7, 2005

I heard Neil Cole say yesterday that Rick Warren and Bill Hybels are evangelists serving in a “pastor’s” role. As evangelists, their entire emphasis is adding to the church, while most “preachers/pastors” in America are not gifted evangelists, but teachers.

The biggest reason why most churches haven’t grown like “Willowback” is this: There is only one Rick Warren and one Bill Hybels. Most churches do not have such prolific evangelists at their helm.

Church growth is dead. We must now begin thinking in terms of multiplication rather than addition. Thanks for the post.

3. TCS - November 7, 2005

I really agree with you. That is my fear of so many “emergent” folks. Not the real ones but a lot of people that want to copy what some other person or place is doing. Mimicking is not that answer. Mimicing has no soul and is not fresh.

4. Amy Grant - November 7, 2005

Great thoughts! If I remember right, Warren talked about riding the waves that God sends rather than making our own waves. Or trying to join Rick’s wave.

5. john alan turner - November 8, 2005

I think the biggest problem is that people go to places like Willow Creek, Saddleback or Northpoint and figure out what to do. But they rarely spend the time figuring out WHY those places chose to do what they do the way they do it.

Oh, and usually we crap out about halfway. We say we want to do it, but not if it means giving up Wednesday nights or Sunday School or the men’s softball team. So, we kind of adopt the model…but not really.

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