Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, is updating his ambitious PEACE Plan, a global strategy to fight poverty, disease, and corruption.
During the past four years, Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, has sent 7,766 church members on 1,002 short-term mission trips to "beta-test" new methods for church-based outreach in 68 nations. Warren has spent much of the last two years on overseas "listening sessions," where local church leaders shared their views on his methods. "We learned 100 ways that don't work," he said, referring to his new approach to missions, which emphasizes church-to-church partnerships.
Originally, the PEACE Plan was an acronym for: Plant churches, Equip leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation. Critics derided it as a well-meaning, ambitious, and ultimately doomed attempt to impose from the outside a framework for solving chronic problems in places like Rwanda.
The next phase, which Warren calls PEACE 2.0, provides more than a tweak to the original plan. Warren has inserted "Promote reconciliation" in place of "Plant churches." This is a welcome change for Bryan Crute, senior pastor of Destiny Metro Worship Church, a black megachurch in Atlanta. Crute was one of about 650 church, ministry, mission, and corporate leaders who attended an invitation-only event at Saddleback in late May, where Warren announced his new plan.
Crute told Christianity Today that African Americans have much to teach the global church about reconciliation. "When you look at the potential for African Americans to redemptively use their history to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is an opportunity that is largely ignored and overlooked. When will we use our history of slavery to export the gospel? I have forgiven whites for how they have treated my ancestors."
Crute said church leaders should view racism as just one aspect of reconciliation. He said reconciliation is about bridging the gap between God and man, resolving economic injustice and poverty, and healing broken families.
Warren's plan is designed to address the global problems of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease, and illiteracy. Nigerian William Okoye, who served eight years as chaplain to former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, attended the May event. Okoye told CT that by and large, African leaders embrace Warren's strategies, which call for new collaboration between government, business, and church leaders to improve the lives of ordinary citizens. Warren visualizes these relationships as a three-legged stool supported by three sectors he identifies as "public, profit, and parish."
Warren compared PEACE 2.0 to the 1960s-era American effort to place a man on the moon. He said the first phase, "Mercury," has now concluded. Next is the "Gemini" phase, which will establish a PEACE coalition, a "network of networks." He expects the top pastors who attended the May event to select a nation and begin an outreach project there in partnership with local leaders.
Warren said PEACE 2.0 will emphasize trade over aid. It will also focus on job creation, donor-advised investment funds, greater use of volunteers, and the use of new ministry-management software. By 2010, Warren hopes to have 10,000 churches in the PEACE coalition. PEACE 2.0 will not follow the oft-criticized "in-a-box" mission concept of the original PEACE plan. The new emphasis will be on allowing indigenous churches to define how mission trips are conducted.
A wide cross-section of leaders attended this event, including several Jewish leaders and some of Warren's fiercest Internet critics, who have accused Warren of misusing Scripture and of focusing on social outreach more than theology.
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Time magazine interviewed Rick Warren and wrote about his global PEACE plan.
DJ Chuang, a member of the LIVE Summit Team which blogged and posted podcasts and live-streaming video on their websites, has links to just about everything that went on at the Purpose Driven Network Summit, where the retooled PEACE plan was presented.
Previous coverage of the PEACE plan is in our special section on Rick Warren and Rwanda.