Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., talked to PW in the middle of a media day in New York (PW was number 7) to publicize the 10th anniversary edition of The Purpose Driven Life (Zondervan, Nov.). The new edition contains two new chapters, QR codes, and links that provide video introductions and audio messages. The original book, published in 2002, has sold 32 million copies in 50 languages.
Why a new edition and not a new book?
Three reasons: There are new things that I’ve learned; a totally new audience I’m going after; and new methodology I can use to get the message out. We didn’t have social media 10 years ago.
My first goal is to go after a new generation of readers. I’ve spent the last ten years speaking at universities. What I’m finding is a lot of young adults in their 20s who feel like their life is in limbo--there’s a lot of low-grade despair and discouragement among young adults. Even people who are in their 20s need to think about what matters most in life, we’ve got all new tools. There was more I needed to say about these things, and there are 25 hours of teaching added to the book in audio and video.
Will there be a new book at some point?
I have about four other books in me I want to release. I’m a crazy writer. The Lord’s Prayer: The Hope You Need is three-fourths finished, and we will serve no wine before its time. I’ve got eight more years as pastor of Saddleback. Once I’m out from leading an enormous church, I’ll have a lot more time to move into my second love, which is writing.
You have a lot of claims on your time. How do you set priorities?
Once (Purpose-Driven Life) went into the stratosphere, it brought in enormous amounts of money and attention, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I began to read the scripture, and Kay and I became reverse tithers; we give away 91 percent (of our income) and live on 9 percent. The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence.
Is that where your AIDS activism comes in?
It’s the worst plague; it’s a sheer humanitarian issue. If Jesus were walking around on earth today, he’d be hanging around with people with AIDS and crack addicts. That’s where we can show the most unconditional love.
How’s your health? You’ve been involved in the Daniel Plan diet [a program headed by three physicians, including Dr. Oz].
At Saddleback we dunk people underwater for baptism. One baptism day, I’m baptizing 867 people, and about number 500 I think, ‘Good grief, we’re all fat, everybody’s heavy, I’m overweight.’ So I said to the church, ‘I need to lose 90 pounds, --anybody else want to join me? Twelve thousand of my members signed up, and our church lost 250,000 pounds. We’ll start a second wave in January. I’m healthier than I’ve been in my entire life.