Warren, Rick 1954-

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WARREN, Rick 1954-


Born 1954, in San Jose, CA; married; wife's name, Kay; children: three. Education: California Baptist College, B.A.; Southwestern Theological Seminary, M.Div.; Fuller Theological Seminary, D.Min.


Home—Trabuco Canyon, CA. Office—Saddleback Church, 1 Saddleback Pkwy., Lake Forest, CA 92630; PurposeDrivenLife.com, 20 Empire Drive, Lake Forest, CA 92630.


Minister and author. Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA, founding pastor, 1980—; founder of Pastor.com.


Several honorary degrees; Biblical Preaching Award; The Purpose Driven Church: Growth without Compromising Your Message and Mission was named Gold Medallion Ministry Book of the Year; The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? named among 100 Christian Books That Changed the Twentieth Century, and Book of the Year, both by Christian Booksellers Association.


Dynamic Bible Study Methods, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1981.

Answers to Life's Difficult Questions, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1985, published as Answers to Life's Difficult Questions: Sound Advice from the Bible on Our Challenges, Struggles, and Fears, Contemporary Books (Lincolnwood, IL), 1997.

The Power to Change Your Life, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1990.

The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth without Compromising Your Message and Mission, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1995.

Planned for God's Pleasure: Meditations on a Purpose-Driven Life, Inspirio/Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.

The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.

Daily Inspiration for The Purpose-Driven Life, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.


Healing Choices, with John Baker, for Howard Publishing, 2005.


Rick Warren is the founder of the Saddleback Church, near Los Angeles, California, which he began with a few families in his home in 1980 and which became the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention and the fastest-growing Baptist church in history. By 2000 its membership exceeded 80,000, and an average of 20,000 attended weekly services. The church has spun off dozens of daughter churches, and Warren has also developed his "Purpose-Driven" seminars which have been attended by hundreds of thousands of pastors and church leaders from more than 100 countries, who have learned from Warren in approximately twenty different languages. Warren has also developed a six-week spiritual journey that has been used by more than 20,000 churches of nearly 100 denominations in more than a dozen countries. Warren founded Pastor.com as a means of ministering to other pastors, more than 100,000 of whom subscribe to his weekly e-mail newsletter.

Warren is the son of a minister and a descendant of Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth-century English evangelical who came to America and ministered as a circuit-riding preacher. Growing up in the small town of Redwood, California, Warren's first interest was politics, but after working in a Christian camp for a summer, he turned down a position as a U.S. senate page. While studying at Southwestern Theological Seminary, Warren wrote to the one hundred largest churches in an attempt to discover what made them successful. He and his wife, Kay, had planned on serving overseas, but he felt a call to return to California, and they did, with little money and a baby girl. When they arrived, they looked for a place to stay through a real estate agent, who became their first church member.

Warren's church was supported financially and through volunteerism by a number of Baptist churches that closely watched the development of Saddleback. For years, services were held in local high schools, at one point in seventy-nine different buildings. Warren joked that you could join the church if you could find it. When he finally overcame the zoning hurdles and had enough money to buy the 120-acre parcel that would be home to his church, Warren could only afford to add a tent, and the congregation grew to 10,000 before a building was constructed.

The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth without Compromising Your Message and Mission, written for pastors, was a million-seller, and in a little over one year Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? outsold the "Harry Potter" series and The DaVinci Code combined. As a Christianity Today reviewer noted, "Only when you then add the sales of The South Beach Diet to those books do you get close to matching the sales of The Purpose-Driven Life." Part of its success comes from the fact that the book is used by thousands of churches for its Sunday school and Bible-study classes. "We think the main thing going on is this," commented the reviewer: "People are tired of focusing on themselves, and they are looking for meaning elsewhere. Life is not about you, says Warren. It's not about your bliss or your self-actualization. It's about God and finding your life purpose in him."

Warren's work is not merely another attempt to baptize secular versions of marketing, nor is it another salvo in the 'worship wars' wrote Jason Byassee in Christian Century. "It is a Biblically grounded and theologically intentional effort to rethink and reform church practice for the twenty-first century.… Warren is clearly a masterful communicator and organizer. The success of his church, of his publishing ventures, and of the now-myriad products with the 'purpose-driven' tag are all evidence of his remarkable personal gifts."

Byassee noted that Warren's "movement from non-commitment to deep ecclesial commitment is mirrored in The Purpose-Driven Life, which aims to do for readers what Saddleback seeks to do for churchgoers." Byassee felt that Warren "rightly insists the church's first vocation is not to drum up its own activities, but to be attentive to the prior activity of God. Saddleback demands far more of its multitudes than mere church attendance, and it actually drops from the rolls people who do not move toward membership and evidence this growth by making covenants, giving generously, and developing from members into ministers."

"Though he has dropped much of Southern Baptist culture," wrote Christian Reader's Ted Parks and Tim Stafford, "Warren's imperatives come straight from the heart of the Baptist way. He cares about the Bible. (It's a point of pride with him that The Purpose-Driven Life cites over 1,000 verses of Scripture.) He cares about world missions, pouring money into making Purpose-Driven resources available in the Third World. And most of all he cares about soul-winning." Warren's reach encircles the world, yet the down-to-earth pastor, who preaches sockless and in comfortable Hawaiian-print shirts, admits to a passion for Krispy Kreme doughnuts. "Warren is to preaching what John Madden is to football," wrote Stafford in a Christianity Today article. "You don't listen for oratorical skill—though he does have a great sense of comic timing. You listen because he doesn't seem all that different from you. Pastors who hear him have got to think, I can do that." "If Rick Warren is a Regular-Guy pastor, Purpose-Driven is a regular-church approach," continued Stafford, "easy to miss because it seems so ordinary. 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. Purpose-Driven has to do with balance: making sure none of the five purposes gets neglected, and that no one of them dominates the church. It's a broad, middle-of-the-road appeal, yet pastors get excited about it."

Stafford noted that Warren "refers to the purposes as the 'Intel chip' of the church. He means that Purpose-Driven principles make an invisible architecture that churches can build on in a variety of ways. A Purpose-Driven church may worship with techno music, or it may use an organ and eighteenth-century hymns. Its theology may be Pentecostal or dispensationalist. Warren enjoys telling how Purpose-Driven reached Brazil and spread to illiterate congregations meeting in houseboats on the Amazon River. He acknowledges that much of Saddleback's ministry builds on the peculiar culture of Southern California. But he believes the purposes are completely biblical and thus transferable anywhere."



Christian Century, March 9, 2004, Jason Byassee, "Re-purposed: What Is a Church For?," p. 28.

Christianity Today, November 18, 2002, Tim Stafford, "A Regular Purpose-Driven Guy," p. 42; March, 2004, review of The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, p. 29.

Christian Reader, November-December, 2003, Ted Parks and Tim Stafford, "The Shockingly Ordinary Purpose-Driven Life of Rick Warren," p. 16.

Publishers Weekly, October 21, 2002, review of The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 72.


Pastors.com,http://www.pastors.com/ (April 21, 2004).

Purpose-Driven Web site,http://www.purposedriven.com/ (April 21, 2004).

Saddleback Church Web site,http://www.saddleback.com/ (April 21, 2004).*