Rick Warren shares his heart:
“I’m in the life change business. I’m in the transformation business. You know what motivates me? not size; in fact, I don’t even like big churches. I mean, my favorite size was 300 people. What motivates me is that I am addicted to changing lives. I love seeing lives changed and that is the untold story. Everybody tries to attribute the growth of churches to everything else but what makes them grow and it’s changed lives.
Now that’s what a mega-church is, so what’s an evangelical? Let’s just review. An evangelical believes the Bible is God’s Word, Jesus is who he claimed to be, salvation is only by grace in other words, you can’t earn your way to heaven and everybody needs to hear the good news; information, not coercion…..
[there is a popular myth that says] if a church is this big, it must be because of marketing. No, it’s because of changed lives. When peoples’ lives are changed you’d have to lock the doors to keep them out, because they want to go where their lives are changed……
The only guy I know who got this was a New York Times reporter who did an article on Saddleback a while back. And I like the way he said it. He said, “Marketing creates a message in order to sell a product. But Warren’s doing the exact opposite he’s creating products in order to push a message.” Well, it’s true. I plead guilty to that. But that’s not marketing, that’s taking the message and trying to get it out as many ways as possible instead of creating a message to sell your product.
Really there are two kinds of mega-churches. They don’t grow the same way. Some grow by transferred growth and some grow by conversion. And anytime you see a mega-church that grows instantly it just kind of explodes and all of a sudden they go from zero to 5,000, that’s a church that’s growing by transfer growth, which means they’ve just become the hot act in town and everybody goes, “Let’s just all go over there. That’s the place to go so we’ll all go.” And as a pastor, I don’t consider that legitimate growth. Jesus said, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” This is like swapping fish in the aquarium. It’s like we pop them from one place to another, and they grow at the expense of other churches.
Saddleback is unique in that 78 percent of the members of our church had no religious background prior to joining the church. It is a church of conversion growth. We’ve baptized about 14,000 adults in the last eight years. So that means this is not a church that grew at the expense of other churches. “