My Rick Warren story and a giveaway

I wish I could remember the first time I heard of megachurch pastor Rick Warren or the first time I was introduced to his Purpose Driven Life (PDL) book.

I know that it was sometime before the fall of 2003, because that the semester Warren came to Liberty University and spoke for two days straight (sharing his Purpose Driven Church principles). All students were required to attend and were all given “free” copies of PDL. (If you’ve ever heard an LU student talking about the $7-free-book, that was it)

The fact is that before those two days I had seen his book and my assessment was that it seemed really shallow. I already knew where I stood with God and where my life was headed, and I didn’t need some strange affirmations about “purpose” from Warren. I had never embraced church fads nor was I much a fan of Christian non-fiction books. My church background had taught me to be cautious and skeptical of every teacher and pastor because they are all fallible — sometimes devastatingly so.

Of course, around the same time as Warren’s visit to LU, the entire university and many of the churches in Lynchburg all started the 40 Days of Purpose (all the ones I visited anyway). They were falling like dominoes, switching to sermons with bullet points that spelled a word and bulletins with fill-in-the blanks and people weren’t exactly encouraged to open their Bibles. It felt inescapable for awhile because not all the churches began at the same time, so even if you tried to find a church that wasn’t doing it (and I did try) usually you’d wind up hearing the same thing. There was a nagging in me that something was very wrong with all of this, but it wasn’t until years later that the Lord opened my eyes.

He did that, in part, through my mom. My mom was still going to a church I’d attended for a long time, but it began going through transformation and she grew very concerned. (This was before churches were brazenly announcing transformation as a good thing…) I’m fuzzy on the details since this was several years ago now, but she became alarmed that suddenly unbiblical changes were taking place and people didn’t seem to notice. She shared her worries with me as well as her research and over time I learned about many disturbing church trends.

But getting back to Rick Warren … I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with the PDL and Warren’s plan for church right away. There were two books in particular that helped make sense of the problems: Bob DeWaay’s book Redefining Christianity and Warren B. Smith’s Deceived on Purpose I read other books and many articles and I do not mean to slight them at all, these two were just the most accessible to me.


Because these books were so helpful to me I would like to give away one copy of each. Eligibility will be simple: please like this blog post, or comment on it, or RT my tweet from @steakandabible about this giveaway (that would be best b/c then more people might see it and enter the giveaway) between now and midnight on Friday June 22 eastern time. There are many people still unaware of major problems with the purpose driven life. Please let people know about this giveaway so that others may be blessed. I’ll pick two random winners and announce them next week.

I do not personally know Mr. DeWaay or Mr. Smith but I am grateful to both of them for the books and articles they’ve written about the purpose driven life and appreciate all the time they invested in this subject.

This entry was posted in Bookshelf, Church Movements, Discernment, Liberty University, The Word and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to My Rick Warren story and a giveaway

  1. diveinscripture says:

    Thanks for the post, Enjoyed reading. May God continue blessing you and your writings.
    Grow in Grace and Knowledge.

  2. mattjschell says:

    I am curious as to what your mom saw in the changes. That might be a good post to make. Just a suggestion 🙂

    • Julia says:

      A good suggestion, but my mom has a terrible memory so I’m not sure I can make it happen. The only thing I remember very clearly was later on when the church was interviewing pastoral candidates – a candidate preached that he’d been visited (literally) by Jesus. Ummm, no. He didn’t. If I heard that I’d have had a hard time not jumping up and calling him a liar during service. Apparently most people didn’t even bat an eyelash.

  3. I came here from Matthew Paul Turner’s site. I can see already I’ll be reading much of what you have to say!

    Another book I would recommend reading is Reimagining Church by Frank Viola.

  4. It is such an empty feeling dealing with American Christianity these days. So often I just want to give up.

    • Julia says:

      Don’t give up Larry. Our Lord hasn’t changed and he won’t. I get discouraged too, but God is faithful even when those who claim to follow him are deceiving and being deceived.

  5. John Downey says:

    You know, I wish that I had had that kind of discernment when that book came out. I try to think generously of PDL, maybe it helps some people, that kind of thing…but the only thing that’s correct in the entire book is the first sentence. Otherwise it’s therapeutic, moralistic deism…just like most other “Christian” bestsellers.

    • Julia says:

      That first sentence is quite the irony. I don’t know if this happens to you, but if I visit a typical Christian bookstore I find myself wanting to hit my head against a wall over and over. So much drivel and tripe, so much error = so much frustration!

  6. Pingback: Philosophical problems with the Purpose Driven movement | Steak and a Bible


  8. Pingback: A Purpose Driven Problem | Steak and a Bible

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