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St. Charles offers a life of purpose

POULSBO — As Christians around the globe prepare to mark the season of Lent, members of St. Charles Episcopal Church are inviting community members to join them in a ground-breaking experience.

Them, and more than 2,000 other congregations across the nation.

Today, the Poulsbo church will kick off its 40 Days of Purpose campaign, centered around Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life.” St. Charles pastor the Rev. Duncan Clark said the Lenten Journey is planned as an ecumenical experience for community members of all walks of life, not just his own congregation.

“We really want this to be a blessing for Poulsbo,” Clark commented. “Our hope is people will come from some of the other churches and hopefully learn something they can take back with them.”

The idea of hosting 40 Days of Purpose this year came from an earlier commitment that St. Charles made to become a purpose driven church, under the study of the earlier publication “The Purpose Driven Church.” St. Charles member Al Lansdowne said it seemed only natural to continue that growth by moving on to “The Purpose Driven Life.”

“Eighty-five percent of individual churches in America are in decline and 14 percent of American churches are holding or slightly growing,” Lansdowne explained. “Only 1 percent are vigorously growing and all of those are purpose driven churches or have a model that is essentially the same.”

Lansdowne added that the principles in “The Purpose Driven Life” that St. Charles members hope will grow their church have the potential to help many congregations. About 10,000 churches have taken part in a 40 Days of Purpose campaign since last year. Locally, North Kitsap Baptist in Poulsbo and Bayside Community Church in Kingston are purpose driven. Poulsbo’s Christ Memorial Church uses a similar model.

“There are purpose driven churches around the nation and I am delighted to be part of the brother- and sisterhood that is ‘The Purpose Driven Life,’” Clark commented. “It’s interesting that so many churches have made the same journey and arrived at the same point. It really speaks volumes to you as a Christian.”

But besides giving an easy-to-follow guide for assembling and nurturing a church, Clark said the 40-day campaign is also a chance for individuals to think about their lives in a new light.

“Everybody has a purpose in life, whether they admit it or not,” Clark explained. “Usually, it’s ‘how can I get more stuff?’ Or ‘how can I take care of me?’ Having a purpose driven life is about ‘what can I do for the one who made me and for others?’”

Besides today’s kick-off, Clark will be preaching on “The Purpose Driven Life” each Sunday and participants will have a chance to take part in weekly discussion groups. St. Charles member Starr Lansdowne said she’s already read “The Purpose Driven Life” and will be re-reading the book this Lent. She said she liked that it is easy to follow and the regiment is not too intensive.

“There’s a chapter for each of the 40 days and they’re very short and very insightful and to the point,” she explained.

Clark said he even envisioned non-Christians participating in the experience as a way to either explore Christianity, or gain a deeper understanding of what Christians believe.

“Our church and every one who is a part of this will be transformed,” Clark said.

Sidebox:

St. Charles 40 Days of Purpose kick-off

2:30 p.m. Feb. 21, North Kitsap Baptist auditorium (across Little Valley from St. Charles)

Information: (360) 779-3524

Every person who attends will receive a free copy of “The Purpose Driven Life” and “The Purpose Driven Life Journal”

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