The term “purpose driven” comes from the teaching of Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. It originally came into use as a paradigm taught to pastors and other Christian leaders worldwide to help them be more effective in leading their churches. This teaching is embodied in Warren’s best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” first published in 1985.
The basic premise of the Purpose Driven paradigm is for a pastor to recognize and be obedient to God’s purposes for his people and his church and organize around developing these characteristics into the lives of people within his care. In Christian terms, this is the task of “making disciples.” An additional focus is how to be most effective in reaching out to share God’s love and forgiveness in the local community and with non-believers who visit the church. In Christian terms, this is the task of “evangelism.” To be “purpose driven” is to be driven by God’s purposes, not our own.
These purposes, according to Warren’s teaching, are found in two verses in the New Testament book of Matthew. These two passages, located in Matthew chapters 22 and 28, are often referred to by Christians worldwide as “the Great Commandment” and “the Great Commission.” From these verses, Warren identified five purposes: worship, ministry, mission, fellowship, and discipleship.