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Warren’s ‘Purpose-Driven Life’ tops New York Times Advice List

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (BP)–It isn’t often that a pastor’s book tops a New York Times best-seller list, but that’s where Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life” landed April 27, moving to number 1 on the hardcover advice list.

Warren is the pastor of one of Southern Baptists’ largest churches — Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif. — and he’s also the originator of the Purpose-Driven Church paradigm, a model for church health embraced by thousands of churches nationally and internationally.

Released by Zondervan in October 2002, The Purpose-Driven Life debuted on The Times best-seller list at number 14 in early January. Sales for the book now total more than 2.7 million copies.

“When I wrote ‘The Purpose-Driven Life,’ I had my local congregation, Saddleback Church, in mind and all of the people in Orange County, Calif.,” Warren said.

“But I also — in faith — believed the book could be an instrument of transformation across the nation, and then the world,” he said. “I am excited to see how God is transforming lives through this book. As we say at Saddleback, ‘Yeah, God!'”

The Purpose-Driven Life teaches that God created individuals with five distinct purposes in mind: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and missions. It takes the same ground-breaking concepts introduced in Warren’s 1995 best-seller “The Purpose-Driven Church” and applies them to the individual — that God wants every one to live in balance between the five purposes.

When The Purpose-Driven Life was introduced, it coincided with a six-week emphasis at Saddleback called “40 Days of Purpose.” During those 40 days, the church baptized 671 new believers, added almost 1,200 new members and increased its average attendance by 2,000.

In addition, Saddleback members invited more than 25,000 of their neighbors to study the Bible for those six weeks.

“We were so blessed by the results that we launched a national pilot, joining with over 1,500 other churches in all 50 states to lead their people through ’40 Days of Purpose,'” Warren recounted. “Hundreds of pastors and lay leaders wrote us, saying, ‘Our church will never be the same’ or ‘This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to our church.’ One pastor wrote, ‘I’ve seen more growth in our members in the last 40 days than in the last 13 years.'”

A second national 40 Days of Purpose campaign began April 12, and it is expected to draw participation from more than 1,000 churches encompassing 400,000 members. More than 300 radio stations nationwide also are participating in the campaign. A third campaign is planned for October. Interested churches can call 1-800-SADDLEBACK or go to www.PurposeDriven.com.

Zondervan also reported “The Purpose-Driven Life Journal,” an accompaniment to the book, is currently ranked number one on the Christian Booksellers’ Association (CBA) gift book best-seller list for the upcoming month of May. The Purpose-Driven Life has been CBA’s number one best-selling book for five months.

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  • Tara Powers & Jon Walker