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)
New-media missionaries | Saddleback Church uses the Internet to try to foster a wired world of faith and charity. (The Orange County Register)
Warren of Rwanda | The best-selling megapastor wants to turn the genocide site into the first "purpose-driven nation" (Time Magazine)
Rick Warren, 'Spiritual Entrepreneur' | The author and preacher sees himself as a communicator--explaining the mysteries of faith to ordinary Christians. c 2003.(Beliefnet.com)
The Man With the Purpose | How Rick Warren's best-selling book saved a hostage's life is just one part of the book's lore. (Beliefnet.com)
Rick Warren: 'God Didn't Need Us, He Wanted Us' | In part one of a two-part interview, Rick Warren talks about his surprising relationship with God. (Interviewed by David Kuo, Beliefnet.com)
Rick Warren's Second Reformation | The first reformation of the church was about creeds. The next will be about deeds, says the purpose-driven pastor.(Interviewed by David Kuo, Beliefnet.com)
Finding Purpose at the White House | One Saturday in 2002, I gave a White House tour to a pastor from California. I'd never heard of him or his book (David Kuo, Beliefnet.com)
The Man With The Purpose | Rick Warren's plan for spiritual fulfillment is making him one of America's most influential ministers (Time Magazine)
Rick Warren: A Pastor with a Purpose . From Time's Top 25 Evangelicals (Time Magazine)
Rick Warren moving the message | Warren fused modern marketing techniques to a 'purpose-driven' product. (The Orange County Register)
Evangelicals Embrace New Global Priorities | Some top leaders want to broaden the focus from culture-war 'family issues' to helping the world's poor. (Beliefnet.com)
Can Rockers and Religious Leaders End Poverty? | A coalition of the glamorous and the pious see a golden opportunity.(Beliefnet.com)
The ONE Campaign: An Advocacy Letter From Rick Warren | The text of a letter, signed by high-profile evangelicals, challenging Pres. Bush to change U.S. policy toward the poor. (Beliefnet.com)
Purpose-driven candidate? | Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, has a date next month with Rick Warren, the megachurch pastor and best-selling author of "The Purpose Driven Life" (The New York Times)
Evangelicals Go Green | A group of notable Christian leaders are defying Bush on global warming (Time Magazine)
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