A Purpose Driven Refugee

Written by a man who ask that his name be withheld)


We attended Rick Warren's Saddleback Church for a little over five years and we also ended up leaving in order to seek some Spiritual growth in our lives.  We found that the Church was skilled in attracting new sheep however the ministries and classes offered were not designed to accommodate any real growth or depth.   The smaller churches around Saddleback actually benefited from the Church because they knew that the mature Christians would eventually find a way out of the fluff towards a more fulfilling experience.  There were a couple of things that we were actually outright troubled by that took place in our short stay at the Church.  

1)      Saddleback initially offered a Wednesday night Bible Study service that would go line by line through the Bible.  This was announced weekly to all six (at that time) regular weekend services which cumulatively totaled about fifteen thousand people.  The Wednesday night study met in a much smaller auditorium on campus and was taught by one of the under Pastors.  The study was eventually cancelled due to lack of interest, we never saw the much smaller auditorium ever more than half full.  This service was always mentioned under everyone's breath as the "old timers" service for people that liked a more traditional form of worship.

2)      Saddleback Church encouraged the small groups (home studies) to follow the weekly course outlines that were available on the website.  These outlines were primarily geared around whatever the latest "40 Days Offering" that happened to be on the shelves at the time.  Our small group actually studied the Bible, however when a new "40 Days" would come out, we were pressured into dropping the Bible study and follow the 40 days of "whatever" program.  Our small group leader actually opted one time not to stop our Bible study for the latest 40 days of fluff curriculum. He was rebuked by a friend of his, in the Bible study, who abruptly stopped coming and said to him," I can't imagine anyone not following Rick's request to stop your study and start his, after all, this is your Pastor's life work." 

I admit that I find a good portion of the criticism of Saddleback Church to be superficial and somewhat unnecessary.  However, there is an unhealthy devotion to Rick Warren amongst the membership and an unhealthy environment of prolonged Spiritual immaturity.  I enjoyed our Purpose Driven experience and I did actually grow a bit while I was at Saddleback.  However, the growth was short lived and the focus was clearly not on Spiritual truths or Biblical maturity.  We will never duplicate the Purpose Driven experience in our life even if it is the only option in town, we would simply start our own Bible Study or move to another town.

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Sermons and Other Articles Collection" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
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