He’s the author of The Purpose Driven Life, a book that simultaneously hit No. 1 on the four major best-seller lists when it was released in 2002 and went on to sell more than 32 million copies. It’s listed in “100 Books That Changed the 20th Century.” In 2005, TIME listed him among “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Over the last decade, the pastor, best-selling author and innovator has worked to create “1 billion foot soldiers for the kingdom of God” who will permanently change the face of international missions through the PEACE Plan, a movement to mobilize the church to copy Jesus’ model of ministry by tackling the five “global giants” of spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, poverty, disease, and lack of education and illiteracy. Throughout 35 years of ministry, one of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren’s greatest strengths has been an ability to make the gospel message relevant to postmodern audiences.
“I will never deny what I believe,” Warren says, “but I need to share it in a way that makes sense to people outside the church by creating new terms that bring conversations about God and faith into the public square.”
In 1980, Warren and his wife, Kay, co-founded Saddleback Church in Southern California, which today averages 27,000 weekly attendees. Over the years, Warren also built the Purpose Driven Network, a global alliance of more than 400,000 pastors representing 162 countries.
“Rick Warren is an amazing man of God who has such profound wisdom, practical application and a childlike heart. It is because of these qualities that he has been able to have such an incredible impact on our generation,” says Pastor Matthew Barnett, co-founder of the Dream Center and senior pastor of the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles.
“God’s hand is clearly on his life, and I know that he has many great things still to accomplish in his life.”
Like Billy Graham, Warren seeks to not merely impact culture, but transform it throughout crossover influence in his generation, says A. Larry Ross, president of A. Larry Ross Communications, which represents Warren and other prominent faith leaders.
“While Billy Graham faithfully preached a timeless message, Dr. Warren regularly proclaims a ‘timely’ message in a cultural context, applying biblical truth to societal issues, such as addressing HIV/AIDS (and) mental illness,” Ross says. “His long-term ministry objective is to facilitate a second Reformation—beyond belief, to behavior—by restoring responsibility in people, credibility in churches and civility in culture.”—Troy Anderson