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Who Is Rick Warren?

As I have launched into my 40-day study in The Purpose Driven Life I have found that some people are not familiar with who Rick Warren is. I am providing this as a brief introduction to Rick Warren as well as an introduction to why I am investing so much time in studying his book.

Rick Warren is founder and pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America’s largest churches. Saddleback, in Lake Forest, California, is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Though he has written several books, he is best known for his Purpose Driven books. The Purpose Driven Church is one of the most influential books in the modern church. In it he lays down the foundation for much of the church growth movement that we see evident in almost every denomination. Warren has taught over 300,000 pastors through his church growth seminars and reached millions more through his book and monthly newsletters. Having addressed the church leadership, he has written The Purpose Driven Life to bring the principles of being purpose driven to the general church population. Since its release in 2002, the book has been perpetually on the New York Times best seller list, selling over five million copies to date. Thousands of churches have studied or will study the “40 Days of Purpose” program designed for churches. Because of his vast influence, Christianity Today has, with some justification, called Warren “America’s most influential pastor.”

So why would I want to spend my time studying The Purpose Driven Life? There are several reasons:

  • I am curious to read and understand any book that will be reaching millions of people in the name of Christianity. I also believe it is the responsibility of Christians to examine things like this to keep abreast of influences on the church. If Warren really is the most influential pastor in America, I want to know what he is teaching.
  • Rick Warren has a bit of a bad reputation in conservative circles. Primarily people feel he misuses the Bible, stretching the meaning of passages or even giving passages a meaning that is foreign to them. For this reason I will be individually examining each and every one of the 1000+ passages he quotes to determine his accuracy in using them. Some people also say that he adopts some aspects of “popular psychology” so I will be on the lookout for those.
  • I have been told many times how people have been blessed by this book. I am excited to see if or how it can be a blessing to me.

Essentially, I am reading this book to learn what Warren has to teach while at the same time looking critically (which is a good thing) at the Biblical basis for what he teaches. I feel that I need to defend my intention to read the book “critically.” Acts 17:11 says, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” If they were not hesitant to carefully examine the words of Paul, I should be ready and willing to examine what Warren has to say. Warren, on the other hand, should be happy to have people do this. It should never be seen as an insult or as an unnecessary precaution.

The menu below will guide you through this 40 day journey.