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Rick Warren: ‘most influential evangelist you’ve never heard of,’ USA Today says

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–Calling him “the most influential evangelist you’ve never heard of,” USA Today featured Southern Baptist Rick Warren on the cover of its Life section July 21. Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the best-seller “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

The report, by Cathy Lynn Grossman, noted, “Rick Warren is the master marketer of a single message: ‘You are here for God.'” By 2004, about 2 million people will have joined one of Warren’s “40 Days of Purpose” campaigns.

Warren’s book is “intended to take the Gospel house to house, one believer opening the door to the next,” according to the USA Today report, quoting Warren as saying, “I’ve been the stealth evangelist.”

In the article, Warren says his interest is to build “an army of the faithful” and to reach one more for Christ, a theme he embraced at the deathbed of his father, Southern Baptist pastor Jimmy Warren.

“I’ve got a target,” Warren said. “It’s called the globe. The whole Gospel for the whole world.”

Grossman noted that Warren’s book has “outsold Billy Graham’s autobiography — 4.5 million copies sold so far,” and stated President Bush and many of his advisers have read it.

The Purpose-Driven Life teaches that God created every one for five distinct purposes: worship, fellowship, discipleship, evangelism, and missions. In USA TODAY, Warren called it “an anti-self-help book.” The opening line is “It’s not about you.”

More than 2,600 churches from many different denominations have participated in the 40 Days of Purpose initiative while nearly 3,000 more are enrolled for this fall’s campaign. The campaign runs Oct. 11 through Nov. 23. More information is available at www.PurposeDriven.com.

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