What Makes A Church Purpose-Driven?
by Rick Warren

Being Purpose-Driven is not about being contemporary. It is about being biblical and eternal. The 5 purposes of the church as given to us by Jesus Christ in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission are eternal, and never go out of style. They are not a fad. Any church that fails to fulfill the purposes Jesus established for the church for is not really a church!

There are literally thousands of varieties of PDCs: post-modern PDCs, ethnic PDCs, language group PDCs, and even cowboys, singles, artists, and surfers PDCs. There are PDCs for Builders, Boomers, GenXers, and now even Millennial Gens - and they are located all around the world in over 100 countries.

PDCs are committed to the purpose of evangelism, (one of the 5 New Testament purposes) not any one particular method or service. Thousands of PDCs DO NOT have a seeker service. They do evangelism in many different formats.

It doesn't matter whether your worship style is liturgical, traditional, contemporary, country, charismatic, multi-sensory, or casual. What matters is that your style matches the people you are seeking to reach.

PDCs come in all sizes and shapes. The purpose-driven strategy focuses on balance, health and strength, not size or shape. There is no correlation between the size and strength of a church. PDC is a church-health emphasis, not a mega-church program.

PDCs are found in all kinds of locations: in rural, small town, suburban, urban, and inner city areas. As mentioned earlier, there are PDCs all around the world.

PDCs exist in over one hundred different denominations and associations of churches.


1.   They have a Purpose Statement that describes (in their own words) their commitment to building the church around the five New Testament purposes: worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry.

2.   They use a Purpose-Driven Strategy to fulfill their purpose statement. While using a variety of terms, a purpose-driven strategy brings people to Christ and into membership in His family, then builds them up to maturity, then equips them for ministry in the church, and then sends them out on a life mission in the world in order to bring glory to God. The PDC strategy is based on two vital assumptions: 1) People grow best when you allow them to make graduated commitments. 2) You must ask for commitment in specific ways, such as using covenants.

3.   They organize around a Purpose-Driven Structure, which insures balance and gives equal emphasis to all five New Testament purposes. PDC's are team-based, rather than hierarchical in structure. They organize around purpose-based teams, (at least 5 - one for each purpose) composed of lay leaders and staff, with each team responsible for a specific purpose and target group (such as the community, the crowd, the congregation, the committed, and the core).

4.   They program by purpose. They have at least one program for fulfilling each of the five purposes and each of the corresponding constituencies. They evangelize the Community, gather the Crowd for worship, fellowship in the Congregation, disciple the Committed, and equip the Core for ministry and mission.

5.   They staff by purpose. Every purpose has its own champion. PDCs begin by finding volunteers to lead and serve on each purpose-based team and they develop full-time, paid positions as needed.

6.   The pastor preaches by purpose. He plans his messages and series to insure that the congregation receives a balanced emphasis on each of the purposes.

7.   They form small groups on purpose. The PDC DNA is implanted in every cell of the Body of Christ. Each small group helps the members fulfill each of the five purposes in their lives. The goal is to help every believer live a purpose-driven life.

8.  They calendar by purpose. The purposes are the determining factor in deciding what events are scheduled. Every event must fulfill at least one of the five purposes or it isn't approved.

9.   They budget by purpose. Every expenditure is categorized by the purpose it relates to.

10.   They build by purpose. Buildings are seen as ministry tools, not monuments. They must serve the purposes, and never become more important than the purposes.

11.   They evaluate by purpose. They regularly ask: Are we balancing all five purposes? Is there a better way to fulfill each purpose?

12.   Most PDC churches are built from the outside-in, rather than in the traditional way from the inside out. It's far easier to turn a crowd into a core, than it is to turn a core group into a crowd. You build a healthy multi-dimensional ministry by focusing on one level of commitment at a time.

Article by Rick Warren

Saddleback Church
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, California. Beginning with just his wife, Kay, in 1980, the congregation now averages 15,000 attenders at its 5 weekend services. Rick is also the author of 4 books, including "The Purpose Driven Church," which has sold over one million copies in 18 languages. Over 175,000 pastors, from over 100 countries, have attended a Purpose Driven Church Seminar. Rick is also the founder of, a global internet community for those in ministry.