Urging Christians to pursue “a new reformation” in the 21st century, Rick Warren told delegates to the Baptist World Centenary Congress, “The first Reformation was about belief. This one needs to be about behavior.”
“We need a reformation of not creeds but deeds,” emphasized Warren, author of the best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Church, and one of the keynote speakers for the global meeting, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Baptist World Alliance.
“Most of the time we're just talk,” he lamented. “It's time that the church be known for what it's for” rather than what it's against.
Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said the new reformation will require mobilizing Christians, multiplying churches, evangelizing the world and eradicating global problems.
“A non-serving Christian is a contradiction,” he warned. “God didn't save you to sit, soak and sour. He saved you to serve. … Significance comes from service.”
When Jesus washed his disciples' feet, he gave them the gifts of a new perspective, new pattern and new promise, Warren said.
As the BWA celebrates a century of ministry and pursues a vision for the next 100 years, “these are the exact three things we need to take us into the 21st century,” he suggested. Details of those gifts include seeing the world from God's perspective, following the Son's pattern and believing the Spirit's promises.
“The kingdom of God is wherever Jesus is King,” Warren noted. “It is God's people fulfilling God's purposes on God's planet.
“If you want to be on the winning side, get involved in the kingdom of God,” he added. “God loves to do new things in a new way.”
As an example, Warren said the church in the Southern Hemisphere is “exploding with growth.”
“Africa, Asia and Latin America will lead us in the 21st century,” he declared. “That's what God is doing.”
Urging unity amid diversity, Warren said, “A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a great church. … Unity comes from purpose.”
While “this is a time for optimism,” Warren cautioned that Christians “not only need to see the potential, you need to see the problems.”
Citing “five global giants,” he said churches must address the issues of spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy.
Insisting that the only effective solution to such problems is the local church, Warren said he is implementing a global “PEACE Plan” initiative to mobilize 10 million churches, 100 million small groups and 1 billion Christians to impact the world. “If you're going to think, you might as well think big,” he suggested. “In my dictionary, the word ‘impossible' isn't there because I cut it out.”
Noting that Saddleback Church, which reports 82,000 members, is quietly testing the PEACE Plan in churches in 47 countries, Warren said the acrostic stands for plant churches, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick and educate the next generation.
“These five elements of Jesus' ministry are the practical expression of the kingdom of God,” he said. “What Jesus did in his physical body, he expects us to do in his spiritual body” as the church.
“Why do we do this?” he asked. “Why should I care about the sick and the poor and the uneducated and the spiritually empty? Because of what Jesus has done for us. We do it out of gratitude.
“Do you know what God cares about most?” Warren asked the congress crowd. “He wants his lost children found. … God never made a person he didn't love.
“It's time to stop debating the Bible and start doing it. It's time to stop criticizing and start cooperating,” he urged. “It's time for the church to be the church. This is the new reformation I'm praying for.”
Associated Baptist Press
Trennis Henderson is editor of the Western Recorder.