Prophet of Purpose
The Life of Rick Warren
By Jeffery L. Sheler
(Doubleday Religion, Hardcover, 9780385523950, 336pp.)
Publication Date: November 3, 2009
List Price: $22.99*
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Rick Warren is arguably the most influential man in American religion today. Megachurch pastor, friend of world leaders, and trend-setting spiritual entrepreneur, he is widely recognized as the new public face of evangelical Christianity in America. No other modern churchman has matched his success as a leader and motivator of Christians. His book, The Purpose-Driven Life, is the bestselling nonfiction hardcover of all time, with more than 25 million copies sold. At a time when evangelicalism stands at a political and cultural crossroads, his stature continues to rise.
But who is Rick Warren? What can be learned from the story of the man behind the message? And what does his life say about the state of Christianity today?
Prophet of Purpose: The Life of Rick Warren traces the road Warren has traveled, the influences in his life, his trials and temptations, and the opposition he has encountered along the way. Honest, thorough, and insightful, it explores his spiritual coming of age during the turbulent 1960s, his principled determination to sit out the divisive battles between fundamentalists and moderates in the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 1970s, and his audacious endeavor in the 1980s to build a “church for people who hate church” in the suburbs of Los Angeles. From a handful of worshippers meeting in a tiny apartment, he grew a vibrant congregation of over 22,000 and a global network of pastors who follow his strategies for building churches and transforming lives. In this unofficial biography, Jeffery L. Sheler, who had unfettered access to Warren and those closest to him, presents an intimate portrait of Warren as a man of faith and vision but also of flesh and blood and human foibles–a pastor, communicator, philanthropist, and family man who is driven by a sense of divine purpose to complete the course his God has set before him.
Prophet of Purpose brings Warren and his mission to life and provides a provocative glimpse into the potential future of Christianity in America.
JEFFERY L. SHELER reported for U.S. News & World Report for 24 years, including 15 years as the religion editor, and is a contributing editor for the magazine. He is the author of Is the Bible True? and Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America. He lives in Portsmouth, Virginia.
“Jeffery L. Sheler writes a powerful biography of one of the greatest Christian leaders of the century. Anyone who reads Prophet of Purpose: The Life of Rick Warren will be challenged and inspired by the difference one life can make if it’s lived on purpose. Rick Warren’s vision and friendship inspired me to start Woodlands Church on God’ s purposes.” — Kerry Shook, Senior Pastor of Woodlands Church and author of the New York Times best-selling book One Month to Live
“This book is a wonderful gift to all of those folks who know Rick Warren only as one of our most articulate and influential religious leaders. Jeff Sheler shows us a very human husband-father-pastor whose own very personal purpose-driven life is all the better because of doubts and set-backs experienced along the way."— Richard J. Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary
"Jeffery Sheler illuminates the journey Pastor Warren has taken from his childhood in Ukiah to the Saddleback Church. Sheler seamlessly tells the story not just of how Warren built his church and became a bestselling author, but how he became a moral voice on global poverty, HIV/AIDS and global climate change, issues that should call everyone from the faith community to get involved. A compelling read about a man in the middle of so many of the issues of our time." — Senator John F. Kerry
"Prophet of Purpose is essential for anyone who wants to understand America's most prominent pastor and the tectonic shifts on the religious landscape he represents. Sheler's detailed account of Warren's background carries great explanatory power.” — David Neff, Editor-in-chief of Christianity Today
“Engaging and fair-minded … [Prophet of Purpose] allows the reader to appreciate just how remarkable Warren’s rise to prominence really is.” – Alan Wolfe, Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College