40 Days of Purpose – Introduction

Our church is starting the 40 Days of Purpose Campaign Saturday, October 9. The core of this campaign is Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. This book has forty chapters – one for each day of the campaign.

Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church in California. Ostensibly a Southern Baptist congregation, they don’t make much of their denominational affiliation. From what I’ve seen of Rick Warren (I first heard him back in the early 90s while I was living in California), he and his organization honestly seek to be a blessing to other churches, whatever their denomination. They present their stuff – including the 40 Days of Purpose – as plain old basic Christianity. For the most part they’re right on target. But by downplaying their baptist heritage, there are elements of that heritage that come through without the label. What is presented as basic Christianity is actually the baptist take on basic Christianity. I’m not in the least perturbed by this. I’m United Methodist and I’m sure my tradition comes through the same way in what I write and say. Saddleback is also an extremely large church in Southern California, so some of what we find in the material may also represent a large church and a California take on basic Christianity. I share these obvious points simply so we will be aware while we read.

The Purpose Driven people strongly advise every church that uses their material to adapt it to their situation. That’s great advice, and the rationale for my blogging the book. I will be blogging each chapter of the book, offering my comments and questions. Hopefully it will be good for you. I know it will be good for me.

Warren’s book is all about answering what he calls “Life’s most important question”: “What on earth am I here for?” It is comon to think that the best way to answer this question is to look inward: Who am I? What do I want? What are my talents and abilities? What makes me happy? Although these questions aren’t irrelevant, they will inevitably lead us astray if we don’t consider them in the context of who God – our Maker – is, and what God has done, is doing, and will do in our world. We’re part of something bigger than us!

Here are some pointers as you read the book.

  1. Remember that it’s not the bible. It’s a devotional book. Measure what you read by the Bible.
  2. Read only one chapter a day. Take time to digest it.
  3. Interact with the book. Ask questions of it. Ask questions of yourself.
  4. If you own the book (and you should), write in it. Underline or highlight parts you think most relevant.
  5. Don’t take this adventure alone. Be part of a small group doing the book. Talk about it with your family. As we talk things over we engage our senses more fullly and learn more.
  6. Pray. Allow God to be your partner. Ask for ears to hear what He wants to say to you.
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