Bethlehem Lutheran may be the first mainline congregation to apply Rick Warren’s famous philosophy – and it’s been a great success.
Nearly 20 years ago Pastor Chris Nelson attended a conference at the now-famous Saddleback Church in Southern California. When he returned he did not change the music, install a big screen, or adopt any of the Southern Baptist proclivities. Hear how Chris heightened the expectations and commitment of his community that led to deeper discipleship.
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‘Purpose Driven’ principles are not Southern Baptist principles, argues Chris Nelson, they’re healthy church principles. Here are my notes from the interview:
Moving People Into Deeper Discipleship
That’s what Chris was after when his leadership came up with a list of expectations, ie regular prayer, church attendance, etc., then had new members sign it. He says soon the older members were signing too.
Changing Preaching Styles
Saddleback also changed the way Chris, and his staff, preaches. He aims to address the ‘felt needs’ of the community, and apply Scripture to everyday lives.
Chris says this is one of the biggest challenges the Church faces today – to innovate and imagine instead of doing things the same way they’ve always been done.
About Chris Nelson
Pastor Christopher P. Nelson (Chris) is the Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He has served on the staffs of St. Philip the Deacon, in Plymouth, MN and Incarnate Word, in Rochester, NY. Raised in Philadelphia, Pastor Nelson holds degrees from Ithaca College, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He is married to Deborah Carbaugh, who is on the Music Faculty of Hamline University, and they have two children: James and Alison.
Pastor Nelson teaches Purpose Driven, and Preaching Workshops across the United States, in India, Argentina and in Northern Europe. During his tenure at Bethlehem two congregations have been planted by the congregation: Spirit Garage, in 1997 and Jacob’s Well in 2006. Spirit Garage continues as a satellite of Bethlehem, Jacob’s Well became independent in 2009, and started
Sponsors I Mentioned
Are you headed to the Wild Goose festival? Thousands of campers are headed to the beautiful hills of North Carolina June 21-24. Wild Goose is a festival at the intersection of justice, spirituality, and art. Some of this year’s guests are Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, and Shane Claiborne. ChurchNext is a proud sponsor – find out more at wildgoosefestival.org