CT article: Rick Warren may be America’s most influential pastor

Baptist Press, Nov. 18, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren appears on the cover of the Nov. 18 issue of Christianity Today above a headline stating he may be the most influential pastor in the country. The magazine’s seven-page spread cites the influence of Warren’s “Purpose Driven” model, one that is used in churches around the globe. And it suggests that Warren’s “regular guy” approach is not only non-threatening to pastors, it helps them to see the obvious.

“If Rick Warren is a Regular-Guy pastor, Purpose-Driven is a regular-church approach — easy to miss because it seems so ordinary,” writes Tim Stafford in the CT article. “Purpose-Driven is built around five fundamental purposes — fellowship, spiritual maturity, service, evangelism and worship — which just about any church, large or small, Pentecostal or Episcopal, can get behind.”

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Warren has trained approximately 180,000 pastors through his “Purpose Driven Church” seminars, and his

has been a best-seller since its release in 1995.

Warren is pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Among the largest of Southern Baptist churches, Warren and his wife, Kay, started Saddleback 22 years ago with a handful of people in the living room of their rented condominium.

At the time, the ink was still drying on Warren’s diploma from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Warren has dropped much of Southern Baptist culture …,” Stafford writes. “Yet Warren’s imperatives come straight from the heart of the Baptist way. He cares about the Bible. (It’s a point of pride that his new book,

, cites over 1,000 verses of Scripture.)

“He cares about world missions, pouring money into making Purpose-Driven resources available in the Third World,” Stafford continues. “And most of all he cares about soul winning. Though Warren’s [Purpose-Driven model] balances evangelism with the other purposes of the church, it’s clear where his heart goes. ‘He lives, bleeds, sleeps, and eats evangelism,’ says Kay Warren.”

The article also cites some “SaddleFacts,” such as:

— “While Saddleback keeps its Southern Baptist affiliation virtually invisible, the church maintains close ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, participating in cooperative giving and mission programs.”

— “Sermons at Saddleback often last 45 minutes to an hour.”

— More than 2,400 people made commitments to Christ at this year’s Easter services.

— “Saddleback practices church discipline — removing hundreds of members for non-participation or for unrepented sin.”

— “Saddleback launched its first daughter church after its first year of existence; it has started at least one church every year since, many among the immigrant groups in Southern California.”

Christianity Today, founded by Billy Graham, is a magazine that reports on the evangelical community at large.

To read the article, visit http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/012/1.42.html.

To find out more about the Purpose-Driven model, visit http://www.purposedriven.com/index.asp?

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