LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–“The most basic question everyone asks in life is, ‘Why am I here? What is my purpose?'” says Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church and author of the new book, “The Purpose Driven Life.”
“Self-help books suggest looking within, at your own desires and dreams, but that is the wrong place to start,” Warren says. “You must begin with God and his eternal purposes for your life. We are made by God and for God, and until we understand that, life will never make sense.”
Warren says the goal of The Purpose Driven Life is to help people develop a heart for the world. He says real meaning and significance won’t come from pursuing one’s personal goals and ambitions but only from understanding and fulfilling God’s purposes.
Similar to his genre-defining book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” Warren says the same five purposes of the church correspond to Christians’ individual lives.
The first purpose is that you were planned for God’s pleasure, to discover the true meaning of worship and become best friends with God.
“Bringing pleasure to God is called ‘worship.'” Warren says. “Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.”
Warren emphasizes that worship is more than music, but a lifestyle. While many churches today segment their Sunday services into times of worship and times of teaching, Warren says every part of a church service is an act of worship — not intended for personal benefit but for bringing pleasure to God. He also notes that Christians worship by the way they live — it’s not just a Sunday morning event.
Second, God formed you for his family. In the book, Warren helps Christians explore the real meaning of fellowship and encourages them to develop a life together with other believers.
“Your spiritual family is even more important than your physical family because it will last forever,” Warren writes. “Our families on earth are wonderful gifts from God, but they are temporary and fragile, often broken by divorce, distance, growing old and, inevitably, by death. On the other hand, our spiritual family — our relationship to other believers — will continue throughout eternity.”
Third, God created you to become like Christ, growing in true discipleship through truth, trouble, temptation and time.
“God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ,” Warren explains. “Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christ-likeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.”
The fourth purpose for life is that you were shaped for serving God. Warren wants Christians to redefine ministry by discovering that God uniquely formed them to serve him. They should learn to think and act as Christ’s servants.
“Only you can be you. God designed each of us so that there would be no duplication in the world,” Warren writes. “No one has the exact same mix of factors that make you unique. That means no one else on earth will ever be able to play the role God planned for you. If you don’t make your unique contribution to the body of Christ, it won’t be made.”
The fifth reason God created you is for a mission. Christians must define their individual life purposes according to God’s direction. Warren says God wants believers to balance their lives and to gain a heart for the whole world.
“God is at work in the world, and he wants you to join him. This assignment is called your mission,” Warren says. “God wants you to have both a ministry in the body of Christ and a mission in the world. Your ministry is your service to believers, and your mission is your service to unbelievers.”
Warren, along with his wife, Kay, started Saddleback in their home in 1980 with one other family. The church, based in Lake Forest, Calif., averages 16,000 attenders each weekend.
During the past seven years, more than 9,200 new believers have been baptized at Saddleback. The church has also started 34 daughter churches and sent more than 4,000 of its members on mission projects around the world.
Warren has been called the inventor of the perpetual revival because of his concept of the Purpose Driven Church. More than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from more than 125 countries have attended Warren’s Purpose Driven Church seminars.
His book, The Purpose Driven Church, addresses church health and has sold more than 1 million copies in 20 languages since its release in 1995. It is used as a textbook in many seminaries and was selected as one of the 100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.
Bruce Wilkinson, author of The New York Times best-seller, “The Prayer of Jabez,” describes Warren’s latest book as destined to be a classic about the Christian life.
“I predict ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ will become the ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ [by Oswald Chambers] of the 21st century,” he says. “Timeless, profound, compelling and transforming, this book is a priceless gift for everyone who wants to know their purpose and fulfill their destiny. Just as ‘The Purpose Driven Church’ has had the most profound impact on the church worldwide of any book in this generation, Rick Warren’s new, groundbreaking manifesto will set millions of people free to live the lives God intended.”
Along with the release of The Purpose Driven Life, a satellite simulcast of Warren presenting the book’s principles is scheduled for Oct. 12 in all 50 states and 10 countries, with an estimated viewing audience of 500,000-plus people.
The simulcast will kick off a “40 Days of Purpose” spiritual emphasis in which participants will read a chapter of the book each day and hear a sermon based on the material each Sunday in a participating church. “40 Days of Purpose” is a pilot program that is being tested in 1,500 churches this fall and will be available to more churches in the spring.
After presenting his principles for a Purpose Driven Life three years ago during a seven-week “40 Days of Purpose” spiritual growth emphasis at Saddleback, the church experienced incredible results: 564 people accepted Christ, 1,065 new believers were baptized, 1,628 new members joined Saddleback, 2,701 signed up to serve in a lay ministry and 5,465 were trained in personal evangelism committed to a world missions project.
“We hope churches across this country and those from the other 10 countries will see the kind of dramatic growth in their churches and spiritual renewal in their communities that we’ve experienced at Saddleback,” says Marty Cutrone, national campaign director of “40 Days of Purpose.”
Churches interested in the 40 Days of Purpose campaign for next spring can send an e-mail to [email protected].
“The Purpose Driven Life” is available at a bookstore nearest you or at www.purposedrivenlife.com.