Encountering Rick Warren
An article about Rick Warren can easily become a list of facts and figures - so let’s get them out of the way. He’s the founding pastor of America’s largest church, Saddleback, in California, which began with one family in 1980 and now averages over 20,000 on a 120-acre campus each weekend. Ten per cent of churches in America have followed the course 40 Days of Purpose and another 10,000 to 15000 will go through it this year. His book The Purpose Driven Life outsells both Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code. And Time Magazine has named him the most ‘influential pastor in America’.
I was expecting to speak to a prima donna. My interview had been cancelled once because he’d lost his voice and the only other time he could speak to me was by phone on the first day of a short break in South Wales. My suspicions were unfounded. His voice sounded shot to pieces because he was halfway through a 30-day speaking tour through Europe. But he was warm and unrushed and, in fact, I was the one who eventually ended the interview when it was obvious that my children couldn’t be restrained any longer from interrupting us. He’s a man of big ideas and a surprising amount of humility. The ‘Purpose driven strategy’ which dominates his thinking, comes, he says, from no original ideas on his own part. In fact, he says the five purposes of being church have been articulated throughout the history of the Church. It’s just that the church in general hasn’t always been good in putting these purposes into practice. “The Five Purposes are best expressed in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. I don’t know a single church in the world that doesn’t believe in these churches so the ‘purpose driven church’ is just about helping churches organise themselves.”
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