Located in Belton, Missouri, just off the I-49 corridor south of Kansas City, Rock Brook is a growing Purpose Driven Church that’s committed to being driven by the five purposes of God. That’s because they made a commitment to start that way back in 1997. That’s when Pastor Walter took a group of 14 people from Belton to Lake Forest, to attend a Purpose Driven Conference at Saddleback Church.
Walter says they returned committed to the PD principles and to starting a church built on those foundations. The next Sunday, 92 people gathered at the local park and Rock Brook Church was born.
Walter’s trip to Saddleback in 1997 wasn’t his first. He actually went to his first PD conference in 1993 after seeing an ad in Christianity Today. It was advertising one of the first events for The Purpose Driven Church. The church where he was serving at the time sent him to check it out, to see if the conference might be an answer to the needs they were experiencing.
“This was before The Purpose Driven Church book was published,” Walter says laughing. “I didn’t have a clue who Rick Warren was nor did I know anything about Saddleback Church.”
The conference turned out to be a game-changer for the young pastor who became an early adopter of PD principles.
“All I could think during my time at the PD Conference was, ‘I could give my life to this,’” Walter says.
When the event was over, he knew beyond a shadow of doubt that this is what God wanted him to do. When Walter got back to the church, the leaders weren’t interested in moving into the PD model direction. Yet the dream to build a Purpose Driven Church stayed at the forefront of Walter’s mind.
It would be four years until Kelly Walter would make another trip to Saddleback Church. This time, he was with 14 fellow leaders who would return home with the same fervor in their hearts that he felt on his first trip.
Fast forward to 2016 . . .Now approaching his 20th anniversary as founding pastor of Rock Brook, Walter remains as committed to the five purposes as he is to the mission of Rock Brook, which is to bring people to Jesus and to membership in his church.
With an attendance that averages 1,200 weekly, the church works hard at being healthy. Not only is the ministry staff built around the five purposes of the church—Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Mission—so is their operating budget.
“We also schedule on purpose,” he says, “and we eliminate activities on the basis that if it’s not part of one of the purposes, we don’t do it.”
Walter is quick to point out that there are a lot of good things they could be doing, but they have found more power in focusing on the things that fall within the purposes of the church. Rock Brook Church also remains committed to taking the message into the world, and is heavily involved in the PEACE Plan and ministering in the Philippines.
Walter attended the first PEACE briefing at Saddleback in 2005 and immediately saw it as a great opportunity to solve some of the world’s giant problems.
“I love the balanced and deliberate approach of the PEACE Plan,” Walter says. “It’s such a great roadmap for being involved overseas in missions. It’s something I can use and apply wherever we’re involved.”
He’s using the same approach in India where he’s working with a network of churches to defeat the five global giants. Nowadays, he’s on the road a lot —every six months for two to three weeks—but Walters doesn’t have to worry about the church fretting that’s he’s away too much.
“They see what I’m doing overseas as part of the purpose of our church,” he says. “I’m doing PD training and pastoral training and the church is so generous in the way they pray and give.”
Walter doesn’t take that support for granted. He’s thankful that his congregation is so energized and excited about how God is using their church so effectively around the world.
“The PD model has brought life and energy to our church,” he says. “It’s also been so freeing and vitalizing to me, and has given me clarity on how to function as a pastor. That’s particularly important to me because five years into my first pastorate, I was ready to quit. But after attending my first PD Conference, quite honestly, it gave me a new lease on my pastoral life.”
To learn more about becoming a Purpose Driven Church, visit pd.church/start.