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The man with the 'Purpose'

Baptist pastor Rick Warren creates evangelism phenomenon

In 1980, Rick Warren started his church with a time-tested formula used by thousands of up-and-coming Baptist pastors. He moved to a Sunbelt city, started a Bible study in his condo and taught aimless baby boomer suburbanites how to connect with God — simple seeker-sensitive stuff, the sort of message that has built prosperous congregations for ambitious ministers nationwide.

But Warren didn't turn out to be just any ambitious minister. Today he heads Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of the largest congregations in the country with weekend attendance of about 16,000. He counsels power brokers from Hollywood to Wall Street to Capitol Hill. Christianity Today dubbed him "America's most influential pastor" in a 2002 cover story.

Warren, 50, also happens to be one of the best-selling American authors of all time because of The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Zondervan, 2002). Described as a "groundbreaking manifesto on the meaning of life" in the book's marketing materials, Purpose-Driven Life has sold 20 million copies since it was published in October 2002. By January 2003, it was on the New York Times best-seller list, where it has spent 99 weeks — several as No. 1.


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