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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2000
I enjoyed reading Rick Warren's book, but a closer reading suggests that it suffers from the same problem that plagues much church-growth literature: a faulty assumption. "A healthy church will grow," is the fundamental assumption underlying Warren's book. But what theological warrant do we have for this assumption? In John 6, Jesus speaks to a large crowd about their need to "eat his flesh and drink his blood." This truth-telling (i.e. seeker-oriented?) approach to ministry actually led many of Jesus' followers to abandon him (John 6:66). The pressing question for the church-growth movement in America is whether it believes that the church's misson to be a truth-telling people will of necessity lead to an increase in numerical growth. I, for one, am skeptical. Further, there is a continuing need for reflection on the theology of worship and theology of preaching underlying Warren's book. Such a task is beyond the scope of this present review.
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55 of 72 people found the following review helpful
I wish I could give this book a minus star because its set a terrible example and is causing many sheep to starve. Rick Warren encourages pastors to run their church like a corporation using statistics and surveys to determine what message to preach and what music to play, etc.. This is so sad and is an example of the state of the church(in the USA) right now. The whole seeker friendly movement is causing much damage to the Body of Christ.
PASTORS, if you want your church to grow then start praying, fasting and seeking God's face again!! Don't run to Egypt!
Stop robbing the people, Pastors. If you want to be a CEO resign from your church and go secular. Otherwise come back to preaching the Cross!
Preach Christ and Him crucified!!
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
This book is about building your church and structuring it around the 5 biblical purposes of the church: worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and evangelism. It is a powerful, biblically centered book, and it will get you excited about the future of the church in America.

Yet I want to caution the reader about three things: Number one: The book gives a very detailed and organized plan for growing healthy churches, and if you neglect even one bit of instruction, your plans could go awry. The close attention to detail sometimes made me feel a bit overwhelmed. Number two: This paradigm is most effective for planting new congregations. I have discovered that the book's principles are very difficult to implement in a congregation that is over 100 years old. Not impossible. Just difficult. For those of you who are serving in older congregations with an average attendance of 100 or higher, I would also want to refer you to literature such as "Help for the Small Church Pastor" by Steve Bierly...which deals with renewing smaller, existing churches with an extensive history. And a third thing to keep in mind is that what worked for Rick Warren in the laid back culture of southern California may not necessarily work in the breadbasket of America.

Another caution that I would want to mention is that Rick is not always careful with the text of scripture. For example, he argues that we should tell more stories in our sermons to make the truth plainer. He supports this by referring to Matthew 13:34 where it says that Jesus taught in parables. But what Rick overlooks is that Jesus taught in parables so that "you would be ever hearing, but never perceiving." He spoke in parables so that only the wise in heart would comprehend, which is the exact opposite of what Warren says! There are enough misuses and misapprehensions of scripture in PDC to fill a small book.

In spite of these shortcomings, the book talks a lot of good sense. mMy advice would be to read the book once to get a feel for the Purpose Driven Church paradigm. Then read it a second time with your particular church home in mind to draw out some principles and to brainstorm ideas.
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72 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2001
On the surface, PDC looks innocent enough. But once the curriculum is implemented in the church, there are changes you didn't bargain for. The Holy Spirit is subdued, the church is run like a corporate business. (remember, God's ways are not our ways) The sermons are boring and similar to New Age thinking (everything is based on "how I feel"). People who don't like the changes (the spiritually-mature and Biblically-established Christians) are told to go with the program or get out! The church may grow, but the new converts are being taught only a 'positive' message. Sin, redemption, repentance are not mentioned. The whole Gospel is not preached. Please!
DO NOT USE THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN CHURCH CURRICULUM IN YOUR CHURCH!
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62 of 82 people found the following review helpful
As I began this read, I was immediately aware that his choice of Scripture quotations would constantly be switching English translations, usually using the poorest of them, i.e. The Living Bible, TEB. Therefore, I immediately started jotting down next to Warren's a solid translation, e.g. NASB, and found considerable doubt being shed on Warren's whole premises for "the purpose driven church" as he postulates it.
The church is not purpose driven to recruit more people for the pews, it is for the purpose of saving souls, of justification. This Warren, many would argue, is exactly what he writes about, but the truth be known, it is anything but this. Forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ's gospel must be at the core and center, and it must have prominence and dominance over everything else. Warren permits and promotes other needs to circumvent and override this.
Then as the kicker, he even relates that copying what Saddleback has done is not to be followed, that it won't work in every other setting. What is going on here? Where is the assurance that if we preach and teach the truth of God's Word purely that He will bless? This is shame and shamble of this whole movement to consumerism and leadership by sayings and principles that are not Biblical. Check them out in a good English translation, such as New American Standard. Better yet, find yourself a pastor who can work in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek) and he'll tell you that NASB is head and shoulders superior to the ones Warren puts all his case upon.
The church of Jesus Christ needs only turn to its Lord and continue to faithfully proclaim His desire: that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the peoples (Luke 24:47). That and only that message clearly and purely proclaimed in all the church will and can grow the church and God's kingdom.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2008
Warren is a passionate, motivated pastor, who sees a strong need for congregation to have a purpose. To Warren, being purpose driven builds morale, reduces frustration, allows concentration, attracts cooperation, and assists evaluation (Chapter 4). Warren's book is sanctification-centered, focusing on the Christian life at the congregational level. That's why he shows Jesus as an example for evangelism (pgs 157 ff) or even how to preach a sermon (pg. 230), not as a Savior.

Despite Warren's zeal, which I admire, I find his use of poor translations (or paraphrases!) to build the foundational premises of his book as vexing. Here are only two examples:

- 1 Corinthians 1:10 (pg. 97, Living Bible): "Let there be real harmony so that there won't be splits in the church. . . . Be of one mind, united in thought and purpose." This is Warren's linchpin to have a "purpose-driven church." Being purpose driven may be something good, but he should not use a paraphrase to build a premise that the scriptural text does not support. Paul used the word katarizo, often used to "repair" or "mend" a net. Paul was exhorting the Corinthians to restore their unity by involving their mental abilities (nuos) and their ability to evaluate facts (gnoma), not having a congregational purpose.

- Ephesians 4:29 (pg 295, New International Version): "[Speak] only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen." Warren focuses on the word "their" to preach to people's "felt needs." Yet, the English Standard Version and New American Standard Bible accurately translate the meaning of the Greek respectively: "for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace . . ." and "for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace . . ." Notice that the scriptural text is not about "felt needs" but salvation, that is, "grace."

Although only touched on slightly toward the end of the book, Warren's idea of a "niche" is useful. He writes, "Everyone needs a niche . . ." (pg. 314). Every congregation is different and is in a different location. The nexus of congregation and community form a unique niche for a congregation as a corporate body, apart from individual vocations, to interface in the community it is in. How does the congregation as a whole want to make its presence known in the community? Such an understanding, coupled with Warren-like evangelistic zeal, can stir a congregation to find news ways to share the Gospel to the community. This is something that Warren's book can help a congregation to do--if these facts are taught judiciously, stressing that evangelism is "conversion, not by transferring Christians from other churches" (pg 52).

Also, Warren's statements about not compromising the mission or the message are especially useful in our age (pgs 55, 238). Today, some want to separate mission from message and message from mission. Jesus mandates both for His Church! And Warren is right to say so.

I find Warren's use of what Jesus did and not what He commanded to shape his doctrinal worldview troubling. For example, in preaching, Warren uses how Jesus taught others to override what Jesus told His apostles to preach! Jesus said to preach "repentance and forgiveness of sins" (Luke 24:47, ESV), not preaching to people's felt needs (pgs 199-200, 297-298).

Also, Warren's emphasis when he quotes the "Great commission" is misguided: "Go and make disciples . . ." He misses the point that "go" is a participle in the Greek, not an imperative, and that discipling takes place by baptizing and teaching. Warren changes the emphasis from justification, "Discipling by baptizing and teaching" to sanctification, "Go and make!"

Likewise, Warren has little idea of the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace. But it still needs a mention. Rather than "felt needs," the Apostle Paul says, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17, ESV). Rather than purpose-driven principles, the Apostle Paul wrote to Pastor Titus about baptism: "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5, ESV). Warren writes, "We've been able to maintain a warm fellowship in spite of the enormous growth our church has experienced because our members are committed to a common purpose" (pgs 88-89). Christians assert that our fellowship is based on Jesus Christ and who we are in Him, not human-made principles.

The Purpose Driven Church has its strength and weaknesses. Yet its weaknesses are so many that I would not use it in a congregational setting. For doing so would imply an endorsement of the book. Instead, I would take what is good from the book and teach that in separately written lessons. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" (1 Corinthians 5:6, ESV)
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53 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2004
At first, I was enamored by the "Purpose Driven Church." But, to my shame I didn't look deeper into the poor Bible translations used. I was caught uo in the hype. Qouting Robert Schuller as an example of successful ministry is bordering on heresy! Charging $4.00 a sermon on his (Rick Warren's)website is fleecing the flock. If you are a millionaire due to the success of the "Purpose Driven" books, why keep on raking in the bucks? Something doesn't sound right. Most churches are buying into the hype, line, hook, and sinker. It's all starting to scare me. Remember,the serpent in the garden mixed some truth into his lies. Is all this part of the great apostacy? We need to fast and pray for God to bring revival and church growth, the way the apostles and the great men of prayer (Mueller, Luther, Spurgeon, etc.) did! Look up! Your redemption is drawing near!
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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2004
I was curious about this book because I heard of his prior book. When I got to the part about "pick your targets" i.e. niche marketing I became very turned off. Pick your target people to save by income, age, etc. REALLY??? This is so unscriptural it's unbelievable. Jesus mixed with tax collectors, prostitutes, rich people and poor people, sick people to show us that his saving grace is available to all -- not just a select demographic few. This book is taking business tactics and trying to apply them to saving souls. If Jesus were physically with us at this time we would once again see him with his whips chasing the "money changers" out from the church entrance. This book and the tactics it promotes demonstrates a complete lack of faith in the Holy Spirit's ministry on earth. One pastor I know gave a sermon about this and refused to comply with this approach and had the most growth in his church over the others. This is because it is God and not men and their strategies and tactics who saves souls. Jesus warned us "beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits... every good tree bears good fruit, but every bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:15-16
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2000
This book goes beyond "contemporary versus traditional" worship issues and addresses the greater question: how can we reach a lost world that is increasingly pagan and diverse? Warren uses the Bible as a reference point, rather than the traditions of the 1900's church models, to build a ministry model capable of communicating the gospel to a modern day world whose decadence and world view is becoming more and more like that of the pagan nations that surrounded the early Christians of the first century.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2004
I read this book to try to understand Purpose Driven Life. Warren's use of Psychological methods, software watching, and even contracts. Where is this in scripture? This is concerning.

Warren heavily uses the Living Bible. I can understand some Paraphrasically type translations in Life. But, Church is written to Elders and Pastors.

Warren as in Life misuses scriptures. He treats transfer members differently than new converts. Where is that biblical. Maybe the people had a good and scriptural reason to leave. He works them harder. Since God is not a respector of persons we are supposed to be?

The final and most disturbing thought. Is the Kool-Aide mentality of don't question or make waves. In fact tells the pastors to either marginalize or publically humiliate the discenters regardless of if they are right or not. This is dangerous and unscriptural. We must be faithful Bereans and check for ourselves.

Warren is after the money plain and simple. This is the new Prayer of Jabez etc... It will come and go. I just hope not doing too much damage as churches have split over these books. All I can say is Woe to the shephard who doesn't care for the sheep.
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