Local churches join worldwide spiritual movement

September 26, 2003|GARY MOYERS

Doug Wesley says he can feel the excitement build.

The pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Danville is spearheading his church's participation in a worldwide observance of "40 Days of Purpose," a spiritual movement based on the best selling book "The Purpose-Driven Life" by Rick Warren.

"You can call it an awakening, a new take on the spirit of revival," said Wesley. "It's a 40-day spiritual journey - if you will - where individuals and in our case, the church, collectively, seek to understand what's our purpose in life."

To put it simply, Wesley said, participants will seek answers to "why God put us here, and what are we supposed to do?"


The 40-day observance will kick off Oct. 11 with a simulcast from the book's author to over 5,000 churches worldwide, according to information on the movement's Web site.

"That will begin - just as the title says - 40 days of study, reflection and a journey to try and answer that question," said Wesley, who has pastored at Calvary since 1998.

Warren's book, which spent 23 weeks on the New York Times' best seller list, contains 40 short chapters addressing five purposes: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and missions. Warren believes God wants individuals to adhere to those five purposes, and his movement is spreading throughout the Christian world.

"He's not traditional, but he's a structural genius," Wesley said of Warren. "He's very down to earth, and his message just makes a light bulb go off in your head when you hear it."

Calvary's congregation of approximately 350, according to Wesley, will join other area churches including Westside Community United Methodist, Indian Hills, Burgin Baptist and Moreland Methodist. "There may be more," he said.

Wesley, who followed the Rev. Ernest Martin after the latter's 31-year tenure at the helm, said Calvary is ripe for the movement.

"Our church has been undergoing a bit of a transformation," he said. "We're facing the question of how do we stay current in methodology but not change the message? The message is the same, and '40 Days of Purpose' is an example of a new method with the same message. It just presents everything in a fresh way."

Program encourages participants to read a chapter a day

The program will encourage participants to read one chapter of the book each day, and will offer guidance and instruction on what the chapters mean and how to implement them into daily lifestyles, according to Wesley.

"Every adult and teen gets a free copy of the book, and children will be given a daily read tailored to their grade level," said Wesley. "Our Sunday School lessons will follow the reading material, and the sermons at our worship services will as well. There will also be some extra activities designed to reach out to people outside the circle of the church."

Wesley said that outreach is an important part of the 40 Days program.

"Another component is we are opening beyond Sunday School," said Wesley. "Small groups will meet in homes and businesses, and they will go beyond the church doors to invite people to participate."

He said signs will go up next week throughout Danville advising people of the campaign, and interested people can visit for more information. "We invite anyone who is interested to participate," said Wesley.

"40 Days of Purpose" may be a new twist on an old idea, Wesley said, but it's one that hits a chord with Christians.

"Who hasn't asked, at some point, why am I here? What am I supposed to do?" said Wesley. "40 Days of Purpose seeks to answer those questions, using guidance from the Bible, God's Word, and phrasing it in a way that everyone can understand.

"I've talked with other churches who have participated, and they're unanimous in saying it excited the congregation," he said. "One pastor in a small church in Princeton said 40 Days of Purpose created a buzz in his town that hasn't subsided a bit.

"That's what we want to do in Danville."

Gary Moyers can be reached at

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