While a football player at Louisiana State University, Pastor Joe Champion had once considered following in his father’s footsteps with a career in the National Football League. Instead, he entered full-time ministry in 1989 after a life-transforming experience with Christ. Later he answered the call to plant a church in the greater Austin area. Along with his wife, Lori, Pastor Joe founded Celebration Church in October 2000.
After nearly 30 years as a pastor, he credits The Purpose Driven Church as one of the greatest impacts on his ministry.
“I’ll never forget the hope that I received when the book first came out,” says Pastor Joe. “It was the whole mission of the Purpose-Driven concept. Even now, I gain new hope, dealing with the same issues that I was dealing with 30 years ago. I would say that any pastor or leader, sit down and ask, ‘Okay, where are the five major concepts of the Purpose-Driven life? Where are they in our church or where are they not? What do we need to do to get better?’”
Pastor Joe takes to heart one of Pastor Rick’s signature quotes, that “the day you stop learning, you stop growing,” and the church becomes stagnant. His efforts to keep growing are manifested by connecting people with their destinies through the life-giving ministry of the local church. Pastor Joe has helped build Celebration Church into a multi-site church with campuses in the Austin, Texas metroplex, and in Mozambique, Africa.
Recognized globally as a leader and speaker, he serves on the boards of One Hope, Oral Roberts University, and the Association of Related Churches. Together with his wife Lori, Pastor Joe and his three sons help bring hope to the people of Austin through the local church.
“I would say right now our people are as concerned about hope for the future as they’ve ever been,” Pastor Joe explains. “Living and pastoring in Austin, there’s just a lot of concern. We need to biblically bring the hope that God has for us, in our ever-changing world, even when nations are changing or economic markets are changing. People are really worried about what is going to happen financially. What’s going to happen to us spiritually? What’s going to happen to us as a country? Whether it’s in America or in Europe, if we don’t drive hope into our people, our people will find their hope is something else, or somewhere else.”
As Celebration Church approaches a new season of growth, they are taking steps to partner with Saddleback to become Purpose Driven. Thier main focus in the venture is to bring hope to the community and build God’s kingdom.
Pastor Joe adds, “I expect that our church is going to reach another level this coming fall. We’re so excited about it!”
To learn more about becoming a Purpose Driven Church, visit pd.church/start.