Today was packed with info. After hearing from Rick Warren (taped though since he's battling an infection after his Rwanda trip) was inspiring and visionary. He reminded me of all the reasons my ministry has his fingerprints all over it.
What surprised me was how central small groups has become to his church-wide strategy for creating fully devoted followers of Christ. He's serious about making disciples that reproduce. He emphasized that he teaches church health--not church growth. But that growth is a result of healthy organisms.
Bottom line application: healthy organisms grow and eventually reproduce. It's true in biology. It's true in nature. It's true spiritually. Which begs the question: Am I healthy spiritually? Is my church? Is the American church? The answer is no, not if we're not reproducing.
Steve Gladen, small groups guru at Saddleback, did a great job of laying out the basic strategy today. It's basically funneling the unchurched, dechurched and lost through dynamic worship services that encourage them to begin to take more steps towards Christ. Eventually they connect with other believers in a small group where life-change has the best opportunity to occur.
Bill Hybels at Willow Creek is saying that they have missed the mark on long-term life-change. They're doing the hard things to change that. I hope to learn from them. But after hearing the stories and the numbers it looks to me like what Saddleback has been doing the last 30+ years has been changing lives so profoundly that their impacting California, Rwanda and beyond. They have small groups in 96 cities in California. They are currently leading the entire country of Rwanda through 40 Days of Purpose. They have baptized 20,000 people and 75% of their growth has come through new believers. They are leading the way on leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We can learn a lot from them. I welcome your comments.