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The Purpose Driven Life Hardcover – October 8, 2002
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The spiritual premise in The Purpose-Driven Life is that there are no accidents---God planned everything and everyone. Therefore, every human has a divine purpose, according to God's master plan. Like a twist on John F. Kennedy's famous inaugural address, this book could be summed up like this: "So my fellow Christians, ask not what God can do for your life plan, ask what your life can do for God's plan." Those who are looking for advice on finding one's calling through career choice, creative expression, or any form of self-discovery should go elsewhere. This is not about self-exploration; it is about purposeful devotion to a Christian God. The book is set up to be a 40-day immersion plan, recognizing that the Bible favors the number 40 as a "spiritually significant time," according to author Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, touted as one of the nation largest congregations. Warren's hope is that readers will "interact" with the 40 chapters, reading them one day at a time, with extensive underlining and writing in the margins. As an inspirational manifesto for creating a more worshipful, church-driven life, this book delivers. Every page is laden with references to scripture or dogma. But it does not do much to address the challenges of modern Christian living, with its competing material, professional, and financial distractions. Nonetheless, this is probably an excellent resource for devout Christians who crave a jumpstart back to worshipfulness. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
Pastor of Saddleback Church, a Southern Baptist mega-church in southern California with weekly attendance of more than 15,000, Warren now applies his highly successful "purpose-driven" framework, developed in the best-seller The Purpose-Driven Church, to individual experience. The same principles Warren has taught to thousands of pastors to help churches be healthy and effective can also drive lives, he says. The book argues that discerning and living five God-ordained purposes-worship, community, discipleship, ministry and evangelism-is key to effective living. His 40 short chapters are intended to be read over 40 days' time, giving readers small pieces of his purpose-discovering program to chew on. Warren certainly knows his Bible. Of 800-plus footnotes, only 18 don't refer to Christian Scripture. He deliberately works with 15 different Bible translations, leaning heavily on contemporary translations and paraphrases, as an interesting way of plumbing biblical text. The almost exclusively biblical frame of reference stakes out the audience niche for this manual for Christian living. It's practical yet paradoxically abstract, lacking the kind of real-life examples and stories that life-application books usually provide in abundance. The book has flaws editing might have fixed. People are quoted without being identified, and subheads simply repeat lines of text, which tends to make the prose sound too simple. This book is not for all, but for those needing a certain kind of scriptural rock, it is solid.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Rick Warren's simple formula linking each person's purpose to five classic functions of the church--worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission--has helped countless people re-examine their lives and deepen their faith.
When the book originally released in 2002, I was editorial director at a Christian publishing house and had previously served as a pastor for several years. As a "professional Christian," I was skeptical that Warren's seemingly simplistic approach had much to offer.
But when the church I attended did a Purpose-Driven campaign, I dutifully agreed to read a chapter a day. I was immediately hooked by Warren's unassuming voice and clear, biblical message. I read the entire book in two days and was highly motivated to re-engage in the practice of spiritual disciplines and ministry.
Since then I've used the book as the basis of a small-goup study on two occasions. This material continues to connect with basic questions people have about how to live a meaningful life.
Now Zondervan has released an anniversary edition in an attempt to reach a new generation of readers.
The expanded edition includes two additional chapters, plus online supplemental resources: a one-minute video introduction of each chapter, and a roughly 60-minute audio recording of a Sunday sermon by Warren to accompany each of the 42 chapters.
The bonus materials don't add much value to the book, however. The chapters really don't need an introduction, and I can't imagine anyone listening to 42 hour-long sermons in addition to doing a six-week group study of the book.
Purpose-Driven has been criticized by some for being too simplistic about spiritual matters and for Warren's hopscotch approach to using Scripture when supporting his points. Even so, the material is useful.
Here are six reasons I still recommend The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
1. It makes basic Christian concepts accessible to just about everyone.
2. It's a surprisingly inspiring read.
3. It makes a good text for a new converts class.
4. It's an easy choice for a six-week small group study.
5. It is a versatile resource for one-on-one discipleship or mentoring groups.
6. Though the book has some shortcomings, they are outweighed by strengths.
No book is perfect, and Purpose-Driven is no exception. Yet for a decade it has been a value to pastors, small group leaders, and every-day Christians get in touch with God and themselves.
In The Purpose Driven Life, Warren walks his readers though the theological and practical spiritual steps to living on purpose. Each chapter is a daily meditation that focuses on one topic and finishes with points to consider and questions to ask. For the expanded edition, Warren has added codes that can be scanned by a smart phone and provides access to videos that accompany the chapters. The book is broken into sections on living for God’s pleasure, living as part of God’s family, living to imitate Christ, service and missions. At the conclusion of the book are numerous appendixes for additional resources, including some free ones, and Bible verses.
Lately, I have been complaining about generic Christian books and my frustration over them. In many ways I can see how The Purpose Driven Life provides nothing really new and is generic. But even when I read the first edition over 8 years ago I never got the sense that Warren was trying to provide breakthrough ideas. Instead, I think he was attempting to make 2,000 years of theological study fit within a container that was understandable to the general public. The reaction and book sales make it clear that he accomplished his goal. So in many ways I feel like generic Christian books are trying to copy the Warren success, rather than this book being part of the problem.
I really do suggest reading this book as a group. I can remember when I did this in weeks one and two our group discussed questions like what job does God want me to have. But by the time we dug into the content the question really became what kind of person does God want me to be. Ironically and results may vary, that is when jobs and other personal requests opened for the group. The Purpose Driven Life was one of the most successful group studies I have been part of.
I really would recommend this book as a small group tool or a book that would be helpful to a new believer. Even for those who have been around for awhile it can be very useful. I found myself contemplating Warren’s comments about how the church is filled with servant-leaders not servants. And the new chapters on envy and people pleasing are highly insightful. All in all, the expanded edition only helps to build on the success of this highly popular book.
Review Copy Provided by Thomas Nelson