The Purpose Driven Life is a book written by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddle Back Church of Lake Forest, CA. Published by Zondervan, it is a best-seller, having sold more than 22 million copies (As of Arpil, 2005). It has topped the New York Times Bestseller list for nonfiction for the past 115 weeks (as of April 2005). The book comprises a 40-day course of biblical study, and presents what Warren believes to be the five biblical principles for a fulfilled life: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. The book as of July 2005 has been translated into twelve different languages and continues as the #1 best-selling book under the New York Times Advicer section.
The book is intended to be read as a devotional, with each of the forty short chapters read on consecutive days. Each chapter contains a brief at the end with a 'point to ponder', a verse to meditate on, and a question to ask oneself over the course of the day. Many people have found this an engaging method of study and devotion, as the mind is naturally directed to look for answers when a question is posed.
Rick Warren described his book as an anti self-help book. The first sentence of the book reads, "It's not about you", and the remainder of the chapter goes on to explain how the quest for personal fulfillment and satisfaction can only be found by God's purposes and not our own. Beginning September 2002, churches across the United States participated in a "40 Days of Purpose" campaign, which has since brought Rick Warren to national media attention.
Some in the Christian community have been critical of the book. John MacArthur criticized the book as pop gospel: "What you've got is a feel-good kind of approach. This is telling people exactly what they want to hear, telling people that God agrees with you.... But that is not the Christian message." ^[ _citation\ needed_]^
MacArthur, however, seems to be in the minority. A recent survey of protestant pastors conducted by George Barna (May, 2005) asked pastors to identify what recent books they had found to be most helpful to their ministries. The Purpose Driven Life was the most frequent response. Billy Graham endorsed the book upon its publication, ""Make sure you're not missing the point of your life-read this book! The Purpose Driven Life will guide you to greatness-through living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission."
In 2005, Zondervan senior marketing editor Greg Stielstra published Pyromarketing, which in part described how The Purpose Driven Life was marketed. This led to a dispute with Rick Warren, who felt that it was inappropriate to associate the success of his book with marketing, rather than with spiritual explanations.
- Trash the Self-Help Books: Your Life Is Not About You, by Rick Warren - excerpt from "The Purpose-Driven Life"
- Rick Warren and the Purpose That Drives Him: An Insider Looks at the Phenomenal Bestseller, by Richard Abanes
- A Berean's Discernment Tool for The Purpose Driven Life
- Book Review - Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, by Tim Challies