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Read the study Saddleback Church and give answer to the following.

a) Do a SWOT analysis of the church’s situation
b) Answer the questions at the end of the case study.
c) How would you structure this organization moving forward? 

Strengths

Strengths

The Saddleback community church showed flexibility with the culture and experimenting with the new things; these attracted many people. The publications of Pastor Rick Warren has also motivated many people, and it fueled the church’s ministries. The conferences of Saddleback church teaches the pastors from all over the world regarding the church growth. The Saddleback church provides the video café service that involves the choices of the worship style, small crowd and videotaped sermon. The Saddleback church focuses on the experimentation and the newness as they take culture very seriously. They showed that their values arise out of the culture rather than being imposed on the culture. This engagement with culture helps them to reach many people. This church reflects the importance of contextualising to the local community of church besides than just being engaged with the broad cultural shift. The major strength is building the community both inside and outside the church. The unusual strength of this church is that they often open about their conflicts, self-disillusionment and shortcomings. Thus, the self-critiquing is one of the strength as this helps to improve. This church also focuses on the holistic faith, which leads to personal and social transformation (James, 2015).

Weakness

Saddleback church focuses on the experimentation, the newness and the nature of the reaction regarding the over perspective models that meant that the church shows reluctance in defining themselves regarding method and category. Thus, they lack in providing the clear definition and direction. The unfair stereotyping and the false dichotomies with which the other churches and methods are prejudged limit the church contemporaries (Edwards et al., 2017). Another weakness of this church is that during the promotion through radios, leaflets, their message or their information reach to the restricted group of people due to their promotion style.

There are also outside factors, which help to identify the potentials of the church, this church was able to reach the several needs of the people, which they have due to the cultural change in the Western society. The changes include the urban struggle for the time and money the churches can revise the expectations that are placed and how they find and use the financial and human resources — the hyperechoic that are people looking for those churches that can meet them on the personal level and sharing their values. Also, the spiritual spreading that is the people’s choices is generally towards that object, which gives them hope to find the identity, acceptance and connection to the whole world. The opportunity that this church presents is its newness and the adjustability features, as when any movement is growing, it is more convenient to adjust its shape and direction by creating and modifying the new and healthy values of the church culture. This is advantageous as although there is the existence of some weakness, but there is also flexibility in the values of this church.

Weaknesses

This missional church with many congregations faces a threat that is though Saddleback church can get more and more members from many congregations though there is lack of unity among the members. In the traditional churches, every people attending the single service and participating in the same style of the worship reflects the unity. This church suggests the churchgoers focus on the intimate relationship with the people within their congregation rather than expecting the members to be close with everyone across the spread of the congregations. The congregations need to be equally valued like the outworking of the church’s vision and mission. This also can bring threat to the process that is the congregation members are only considered when they are connected with the mission, and the vision of the church and these allocations of the paid ministry resources can bring the threat to the church (Thumma & Bird, 2015).

Saddleback church establishes the cooperative network among the pastors that lead to the growth of the mega-churches. Saddleback church spread their message and influences the growth of 34 daughter churches and provided the administrative support for getting them launched into independence. This church has been directly involved in the establishment of the daughter churches, and this church represents the fulfilment of the declared mission of the church that is to plant at least one daughter church in every year. Rick Warren will able to increase the church’s local ministries throughout the Orange country, will be able to create more daughter churches as that country, and will be able to spread the impact of the PEACE program globally. The PEACE program is the foundation of missions, and it addresses the five global giants that include spiritual emptiness, poverty, disease, self-serving leadership and illiteracy (Kurien, 2017). Warren believes that some churches will be able to solve this addressed problem of society. The focus of the PEACE program is to mitigate the addressed giants through the power of ordinary people in the local church. This theory of addressing these factors and mitigating them influences the people to become a follower of the theories. The PEACE program looks after planting churches that promote reconciliation with efficient leaders for serving the poor, taking care of the sick and educating the next generation (Newton, 2015). These factors influence the people and the theories that people are unable to serve God, thus serving poor will serve God and the theories that God lies within living beings, influence people to increase the local ministries in the country (Yip & Hoon 2016).

Opportunities

Saddleback is the part of the larger mega-church movement, and the programs raised by Saddleback church motivates to spread the church communities and Warren’s book The Purpose Driven life and through the leadership seminars Saddleback reached various pastors and the leaders with the purpose driven message for the church growth in the country (Lee & Dreyer, 2018).

Mega-churches are the permanent feature of the religious landscape as they provide the message that they need to market that is they identify the consumers and reaches them. They also serve as the model of the church growth which reflects them as the permanent feature of the religious landscape (Gunda, 2018).

The high rate of church growth can be sustained as the church growth are enhanced by the models and the mega-church even provide the church services and looks after the smaller congregations in the country, who cannot achieve the same size, this motivation for the church services to every people will sustain the high church growth rate (Falconer, 2017).

Rick Warren and his wife Kay founded the Saddleback Church when he was 26years old, and he continued to serve as the senior pastor. He is called Papa Rick all over the country, and he is considered as the voice of wisdom, encouragement, hope and vision. His vision for the PEACE plan to fight with the giants of the spiritual emptiness, poverty, pandemic disease, self-serving leadership, illiteracy and poverty. Warren considers the church growth as their life’s work to empower the local churches and the local leaders to create sustainable change, which gives a voice to the helpless and the voiceless ones. Warren mentors the young leaders, and the leading pastors can learn many values from his book, ‘The Purpose Driven Church’ and this book inspires them to inherit their callings to the ministry. There was a debate raised among the critics, Christians and the non-Christians that whether he delivers the message of the serving souls for the Jesus Christ or for adopting the marketing techniques. There a question raised that whether Saddleback is the market-pandering or the purpose driven church (Thumma & Bird, 2015). Then also he was able to make Saddleback as one of the strategic implementation and the foundation of any church in the US. Warren has made Saddleback as one of the successful church that has local growth, a national profile and the international influence. Warren has spearheaded the miraculous growth of the megachurch from 7 adherents to 20,000 member congregation. This shows the deep root of the Saddleback’s growth in Rick Warren (Gitau, 2018).

Threats

Rick Warren founded the Saddleback church with seven adherents, and this mega-church follows the theories of serving the poor. This church puts the effort in identifying the missions that they hope to reach. The five keys that help the church in building the campaign are the financial planning, construction, move-in phase and the strategic planning. Saddleback church was able to develop the campus that would fit their needs, and they spent an ample amount of time and effort in figuring out the requirement, they wanted the building campaign to fit in (Ellingson, 2016). The campus of the Saddleback church has the worship centre and also consists of the different types of services and the self-governing children’s ministry centre. Saddleback follows the purpose driven model that is to abolish the objections or any distractions of preventing people from attending the church (Ong, 2018). During the growing time, the church should pay attention to the attractiveness, cleanliness and the parking place for the people and how the people are going to feel while walking into the church through the doors. The main motto of the church is to strive for excellence and to give their best in communicating God’s truth. This approach of the church views the attendees of the church as the consumers of the business who are looking for any special attractive package. To succeed in such an environment of the society, the Saddleback church uses the best tools like polls and surveys. The most significant key of their growth is that they have given much effort in adopting the tastes of the people, where the conformity is not the critical theological one. Saddleback church also polled their followers to the radio station stations they listened to, by having respect to the church music. The result of this was that there was no one who listened to the organ music when they were given the option rather 96% of the attendees listened to the adult contemporary (Santos, 2018). Thus, the survey of the music style at the Saddleback that was unapologetically contemporary. The pastor of the church acknowledged that it could not be everybody’s style for which he has founded the alternate churches, and he recommends that caters more to the traditional style of the music (Stevens, 2016).   

Saddleback church caters the various categories of people with different programs offerings like the program for kids, high school, singles, college age and the junior high school. There is a chance for everyone to get lost in the large Saddleback church or not feeling connected, for this Saddleback church has made various attempts to reduce such effects with the extensive use of the small groups and this lead to the involvement of the more than 13,000 people with 1450 small groups (Hirsch, 2016). This helps the attendees to select the small groups where they can fit them in an organized manner as the singles, men, women and couples. For getting the involvement of the more people, Saddleback also operates the sports ministry by attracting more than 1200 people, which enables the Saddleback church to operate in the other sectors of the life. The variety of programs of Saddleback church is also considered as the resource ministry geared towards the pastors (Jenkins, 2015). Saddleback church wants to fill up the role of the toolmaker and the primary laboratory by not carrying it to its ministry whereas to empower the other churches for expanding and energising their efficient ministries. This church has gained the excellent and tremendous growth from the year 1980; their seeker-friendly approach has proved to be fruitful at the local, national and the international levels. In this effective manner if the church can view the vision and the mission of their growth, then they will be able to grow ample amount of their daughter churches throughout the country (Hellemans, 2015). The internal analysis of the church has helped in identifying the numerous strength of this church, which enables them to promote their church in every small group and by having all these, the Saddleback church will be able to increase their daughter churches throughout the country. The programs in the form of the seminars in a different place like in televisions, radio helps to spread their messages to the people. Their seminars also provide the teachings to the pastors, which would encourage the pastors of other megachurches to expand their branches and more the number of branches there will be more serving of peoples, and like this way, Saddleback church leads in the megachurch movements. These churches believed in the concept that serving the people means serving to God (Farlow, 2016).

References

  1. Lee, Y., & Dreyer, W. A. (2018). From proto-missional to mega-church: A critique of ecclesial ‘growth’in Korea. HTS: Theological Studies, 74(4), 1-7.
  2. Gunda, M. R. (2018). The Pentecostal Gospel of Prosperity and the Divisive Nature of Mega-Church Superstar Men of God (Prophets) in Zimbabwe. In Aspects of Pentecostal Christianity in Zimbabwe(pp. 111-124). Springer, Cham.
  3. Falconer, R. (2017). Blessed are the consumerists: the ideology of contemporary mega church architecture. Conspectus: The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary, 24(1), 65-103.
  4. Kurien, P. A. (2017). Ethnic Church Meets Megachurch: Indian American Christianity in Motion. NYU Press.
  5. Newton, J. K. (2015). Re-imagining church: Positive ministry responses to the age of experience [Book Review]. Journal of Contemporary Ministry, (1), 95.
  6. Yip, J., & Hoon, C. Y. (2016). ‘To build a generation of stars’ Megachurch identity, religion and modernity in Indonesia. South East Asia Research, 24(4), 477-491.
  7. Gitau, W. M. (2018). Megachurch Christianity Reconsidered: Millennials and Social Change in African Perspective. InterVarsity Press.
  8. Ellingson, S. (2016). Packaging religious experience, selling modular religion: Explaining the emergence and expansion of megachurches. In Religion in Consumer Society(pp. 77-92). Routledge.
  9. Ong, A. (2018). Neo-Calvinism and Ethnic Churches in Multiethnic Contexts. Journal of Reformed Theology, 12(3), 296-320.
  10. Stevens, C. H. (2016). Muscular Christianity: A Comparison and Analysis of the Historic and Modern Muscular Christian Movements.
  11. Santos, N. F. (2018). A Mission, Migration, And Multiplying Movement. From the Margins to the Centre: The Diaspora Effect.
  12. Hirsch, A. (2016). The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating Apostolic Movements. Brazos Press.
  13. Jenkins, J. J. (2015). Communicating Church Purpose: An Expanded Taxonomy for Contemporary Congregations. Florida Communication Journal, 43(1).
  14. Hellemans, S. (2015). Imagining the Catholic Church in a world of seekers. A Catholic Minority Church in a World of Seekers, 129.
  15. Thumma, S. L., & Bird, W. (2015). Megafaith for the megacity: The global megachurch phenomenon. In The changing world religion map(pp. 2331-2352). Springer, Dordrecht.
  16. Farlow, M. S. (2016). In Pursuit of the Consumer Crown or the Crucied Crown?. In Theology and California(pp. 129-152). Routledge.
  17. James, J. D. (Ed.). (2015). A moving faith: mega churches go South. SAGE Publishing India.
  18. Edwards, J., Whitefield, G., Moody, D. L., Sunday, B., Mason, C. H., Seymour, W. J., ... & Kuhlman, K. J. (2017). Prominent American Evangelists before Billy Graham. Evangelical America: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Religious Culture, 188.
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