LAKE FOREST, Calif. - Megachurch pastor Rick Warren recently launched a global coalition of pastors, business leaders and other institutions that aims to tackle what he deems as the most pervasive problems in the world today.
Warren went public with the initiative at the end of the three-day Purpose Driven Network Summit last week hosted by his home church, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
The P.E.A.C.E. Coalition will be an international alliance of churches, businesses, ministries, universities, and other institutions who will work together to address five "Global Giants" that affect billions of people worldwide: spiritual emptiness, lack of servant leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, and illiteracy.
The acronym for the plan is based on the five actions Jesus modeled: Promote reconciliation; Equip servant leaders; Assist the poor; Care for the sick; and Educate the next generation.
"I am confident about the P.E.A.C.E. Plan because it's not my plan. It's not a Westerner plan. It's not a megachurch plan. It's Jesus' plan," he told 1,700 pastors and Christian leaders during the May 20-22 conference.
Warren, who authored the best-selling Purpose Driven Life, called the plan "the most complicated thing" he's ever done.
"It's 100 times more complicated than the Purpose Driven Network," he said. "What we are trying to accomplish will not be done in 10 or 20 years."
Although the initiative is known as a "plan," Warren refers to it as a "network of networks" that links public, private and church sectors.
In the network, the local church takes center stage in directing participating groups to produce a collaborative response to the problems. It goes beyond the parachurch ministry model where people "pay, pray, and stay out of the way," according to Warren.
Dave Ferguson, pastor of Community Christian Church in West Chicago, Ill., said the effort allows local churches to "work directly with each other through a decentralized network instead of being separated by hierarchical silos.”
"I think a lot of pastors that I've talked to really felt that in the last few years their church got hijacked by politics," Warren explained during a press conference last Thursday. "The answer we believe is not in politics …. The answer is in the church."
The network will include professionals from cross-disciplinary fields but will be led by "amateurs" or those who do the work out of love.
The mission statement of the P.E.A.C.E. plan is: "Ordinary people empowered by God's Spirit, doing what Jesus did, together, wherever they are."
Saddleback Church will also provide free software – including a social networking system and global missions database – to facilitate communication between P.E.A.C.E. Coalition members.
The launch of the Coalition will coincide with the beta phase of the plan, known as P.E.A.C.E. 2.0. For the past four years, more than 7,700 Saddleback Church members have traveled in over 1,000 teams to 68 countries to test the initial phase of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Their reports and data have been compiled to map out the second phase.
At the conference last week, Warren said he hopes around 500 churches will participate in the launch and eventually train others who enlist later on.
Ultimately, said Warren, the goal is to mobilize 1 billion Christians worldwide to participate.
"Most churches only think about their own church and their own community," he told attendants, who represented 39 countries and 50 states. "But our mission is the global glory of God."