I have read a good number of articles in various publications about Rick Warren and I must say, despite his style being quite the opposite of mine, i have kind of warmed to him in recent days.(pause.......gasp.....did he just say that!)
i thought "the purpose driven church" was horrible but "the purpose driven life" seemed to be getting somewhere ("you are made for mission").
So, this morning i am reading a copy of The New Yorker (Sept. 12, 2005) and came across an article by Malcolm Gladwell called "Letter from Saddleback - The Cellular Church. How Rick Waren's congregation grew (pp.60-67).
It was an interesting and very positive discourse on the nature of cell groups, American Christianity, and the role of the American church in social welfare initiatives - with a background narrative of how Pastor Rick went from wide-eyed-seminary-student to wide-eyed-Hawaiian shirt-wearin'-every-man(womanandchild)-mega-mega-mega-church-type-chap.
In the closing 6 paragraphs, the article gets especially interesting. Gladwell reports that the unbelievable success of "the purpose driven life" caused Rick to do some "soul-searching."
"God led me to Psalm 72, which is Solomon's prayer for more influence. it sounds pretty selfish. Solomon is already the wisest and wealthiest man in the world. He's the king of Israel at the apex of its glory. And in that psalm he says, 'God, I want you to make me more powerful and influential.' It looks selfish until he says, 'So that the King may support the widow and orphan, care for the poor, defend the defenseless, speak up for the immigrant, the foreigner, be a friend to those in prison.' Out of that Psalm, God said to me that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. That changed my life. I had to Repent. I said, I'm sorry, widows and orphans have not been on my radar.....I started reading through scripture. I said, How did i miss the two thousand verses on the poor into he Bible? So i said, I will use whatever affluence and influence that you give me to help those who are marginalized."
Isn't that great! I'm interested that his conversion happened after "the purpose driven life" was written. can't wait for the next book and i hope it also sells over 50 million copies. Anyway, the article finishes out documenting how Rick is working this out personally and through his 'ministry'.
go pastor rick!
[I couldn't find the article online anywhere but if you are local and would like a copy, please email me. ]