Clovis churches use book to find life’s purpose

By Tova Fruchtman: CNJ staff writer

Forty. The number of days Noah spent on the Ark; the number of years Moses and the Israelites wandered the desert; the number of days Jesus spent in the desert after his baptism; and the number of days churches around the country are spending studying and reflecting upon The New York Times bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life.”

First Christian Church and Sandia Baptist Church are two Clovis churches in the midst of a “40 Days of Purpose Campaign.” By participating in the campaign they will join the ranks of 13,000 churches from 60 denominations nationwide, according to a press release from the national campaign.

“The Purpose Driven Life” has sold 16 million copies since its release in 2002. When author Rick Warren launched the “40 Days of Purpose Campaign” two years ago at his church — Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. — 671 new believers were baptized, 1,200 new members joined, and church attendance increased by 2,000.

First Christian Church Senior Pastor Jon Forrest said his church ordered key chains representing “40 days of purpose.”

The campaign and book are focused around God’s five purposes for people — worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism — according to the release.

Sandia Baptist Church is in its fourth week in the program.

“I wanted our church to be a balanced church that focuses on all five of the purposes so that people know what God has called them to do,” Sandia Baptist Pastor Jason Schwope said.

Forrest said he talked to church elders about having the campaign at the church after hearing success stories from other pastors.

“Our church has (experienced) a lot of growth in the past
year,” he said. “We were to a point where we needed to find something else to move on, to grow.”

The elders agreed and although the church did not budget for the program this year, Forrest said they decided “you can’t put a price on spiritual growth.”

“I think the big challenge is the fact that people already have
habits in their life,” Forrest said. “The concept is breaking old habits that are hurting us and beginning new habits that will bless us.”

Josh McVey, assistant minister of children and youth at First Christian Church, meets with a group of teens in one of the church’s adaptations of the campaign, called Communities of Purpose. The campaign allows for small-group discussions about the book and its principals.

McVey said although the teens aren’t thrilled about reading the book they are excited about the message.

“They’re excited about being challenged by the spiritual growth that is available … (and) understanding more about God,” he said.

“(The campaign) addresses the question everyone wants to
know: What am I here for?” McVey added.

Forrest said he thinks this message is important for bringing people hope. “If people don’t know their purpose, they don’t have hope,” Forrest said.

Schwope said he hopes the campaign brings area churches and people together.

“We’ve got the same goal to build God’s Kingdom — not to build our own,” he said.

On the web: www.purposedriven.com