The Purpose Driven Life remains number two on the cba hardcover bestseller list. But Purpose Driven the organization is over. Created amid the unprecedented popularity of Rick Warren's book, Purpose Driven ministries has lost its CEO, seen its staff reduced by a third, and significantly drawn back its services. No longer a separate entity, it is being overseen by the staff of Saddleback Church, where Warren is senior pastor.
"Purpose Driven as an organization, in a sense, really doesn't exist anymore," Jon Walker, Saddleback's pastor of strategic communications, told CT.
The most notable change will be to Purpose Driven Church conferences, which have trained more than 300,000 pastors in church growth. Saddleback will still host the annual conference at the Lake Forest, California, megachurch in May. But smaller conferences will be held less frequently. In addition, there will be no more nationwide 40 Days of Purpose campaigns, Walker said, though the program will be offered to churches individually.
Saddleback considers January 2005 to be the beginning of Purpose Driven, which grew as Warren's book sold millions upon millions of copies25 million to date.
"The success of The Purpose Driven Life and 40 Days of Purpose was a God-sent wave for which we are grateful, and we tried to be good stewards of the blessing," Walker said. "However, it was inevitable that their popularity would crest and then settle into a long-term ministry of support."
Purpose Driven carried out the first round of layoffs in July, while Warren preached in 14 countries across Africa and Asia. Saddleback leadership had hoped the cuts would be enough. Warren and his wife, Kay, even donated $2 million to cover a deficit at Purpose Driven and hopefully save a few jobs.
But a second round of layoffs couldn't be avoided. From a peak of 160 employees, Purpose Driven laid off 30 staff members while another 24 positions were eliminated through attrition.
Saddleback plans to invest more resources in Warren's newest project, his global P.E.A.C.E. plan: planting churches, equipping leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation. Saddleback leaders hope P.E.A.C.E. can achieve Purpose Driven levels of popularity without the bust.
"It's two very different things," Walker said. "Purpose Driven was training for church growth. P.E.A.C.E is more of a long-term missions thrust. There is not a product or a trend or anything that is associated with it. It is a long-term thing."
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Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive's "On Faith," launched November 20, hosts interactive discussions with spiritual leaders, including Dr. Rick Warren.
Other media coverage of Rick Warren's ministry and Purpose Driven includes:
Break from tradition causes a stir | Rick Warren built 'the Linux of Christianity' that every church can run. But critics and cutbacks may threaten Saddleback's dominance. (The Orange County Register)
God's business | At home or in Rwanda, Rick Warren believes in corporate help to fight poverty, disease and 'spiritual emptiness' (The Orange County Register)