(The picture shown is a bronzed memorial display that was present at the Purpose Driven Chaplain’s Conference at Saddleback church last week)
I’ve been away from FT Jackson for the last week at a Military Chaplain’s conference at Saddleback Church in southern California. If you are not familiar with that church, their pastor, Rick Warren, wrote the book “Purpose Driven Life”. Over the last few years that book has been the best selling book in the world. As with any really popular book I’m always a bit hesitant. Popularity as we all know is not a determining factor in the truth of anything. I had read the book and since I saw it at Wal-Mart came to the conclusion that it was shallow and devoid of any real value, even though when I read it I was blessed. I thought it was a book that just made people feel good about themselves. I in turn projected that in my mind on what they were doing out at Saddleback. I assumed that it was a shallow church. I also assumed they were just popular because they had a lot of great programs and lots of money and resources. But then I went out there. When I arrived I was showered as were all the Chaplains from all branches with more love than I have experienced in a long time. The church provided housing for us with families. I stayed with a wonderful young family in the Mission Viejo area. Lee, Susan, Sarah and Andrew Birckle gave up a room in their home to someone they had never met for 4 days. They fed me well and provided a time of rest and renewal for me. The church itself is filled with people mobilized to care for the body. The leadership of the church gave and gave to all of us. They gave time, encouragement and resources. I realized my presupposition about the church and the “purpose driven” movement was indeed arrogant and incorrect. It is not shallow to love and build the body. It is not shallow to give up your home to someone you’ve never seen. It is not shallow to provide resources and encouragement to Chaplains who need it. In fact it is all quite Biblical. I came away energized and built up. It wasn’t because I heard some great new teaching. It was how I saw the body in action and how the body came together in one accord. I believe the Chaplain Corps is stronger because of Saddleback’s ministry to us. I came back and preached to our BCT soldiers three times yesterday. I put out the call to our soldiers for them to be ministers in their company areas. As of today we now have about 30 small groups started in three companies. That’s right about 30! I realized that when I give believers permission to embrace their own ministries they will do just that. We also have a Drill SGT who wants to begin a singles ministry to our cadre and my Chaplain Assistant is going to ratchet up an internet café for BCT soldiers. All this has taken place just in the last two days. I sincerely believe we are on the precipice of a great move of God here. Please pray for us as we equip believers here.