Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rick Warren repents

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."
Rick continues...
"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. ]


Erich Scharf said...

I think it is hard to see the book the purpose driven life as the beginning and not the end. People get caught up thinking that it is the answer when it is really just the first step, a first step in a good direction.

Jeremy Porter said...

I have heard and read Warren speak on this in a few different places. It is pretty encouraging to see that he is leading his congregation into missional lifestyles, both locally and across the globe.

Though the look is quite "market-savvy," there is more info at this link

Geoff, good to see you express some leanings that even go into the "dark-side" of church!

geoff said...

hey jeremy...thanks for the link. great stuff. i'm cautiously hopeful about this. sustainablilty seems to be the key. it will take the miracle of commitment long after the buzz is gone and the papers stop reporting and bono stops singing...
anyway, thanks for visiting the ashram. we need to get together for a coffee especially now we are neighbors. peace.