One of America's best known pastors, Rick Warren of The Purpose Driven Life, has teamed up with publishing powerhouse Reader's Digest Association Inc. to develop a multi-platform network that will serve to train and connect millions of people worldwide who have found the best-selling book helpful and want more biblically-based advice on life.
"Since the book was published, we've received hundreds of thousands of requests from readers asking for more help," said Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and the 162-nation Purpose Driven network of churches, in a statement this week.
To respond to the requests, Warren reached out to Reader's Digest Association, which publishes in 79 countries, and asked if it could help publish the content of his new network, the Purpose Driven Connection, in a variety of high-tech and high-touch formats worldwide.
"We stopped several successful projects a couple of years ago to start preparing for this," Warren said Monday, noting that planning and preparation took three years. "We're thrilled to finally get to talk about it prior to the launch early next year. It is unlike anything else and has the potential to change hundreds of millions of lives."
Three formats for the Purpose Driven Connection have been announced so far, and are slated to be introduced early 2009. They include a quarterly magazine titled, "Purpose Driven Connection," small group multimedia materials for a national "40 Days of Love" emphasis, and a state-of-the-art Purpose Driven Connection social networking Web site.
Warren, who will be at the helm of all the platforms serving as editor-in-chief, anticipates more than a dozen formats emerging as the community grows and connects. Yet despite his large investment of time and effort into the project, Warren will not receive any money for his work.
"This is a labor of love," Warren explains. "We want to help pastors help everyone else."
The "Purpose Driven Connection" magazine will serve as the main platform in which all the other formats will connect. The magazine will feature stories of everyday people living out God's purpose and making a difference with their lives.
For its premier issue, the magazine will feature some of the best-known Christian authors, including Tim Keller, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Anne Graham Lotz, Chip Ingram, Lee Strobel, Kay Warren and others.
Also included in the first issue are excerpts from Warren's personal interview with now president-elect Barack Obama at the Saddleback Civil Forum in August.
Practical steps for growth and opportunities for service and mission will also accompany the articles and encourage readers to participate in opportunities using the related Web site.
"It is rare indeed to be able to call something 'revolutionary' in our highly-developed world," said Mark Affleck, executive director of Purpose Driven Connection. "This is just that - an entirely new and never-before-seen model for how people can not only discover their purpose in life, but to also interact with others through the online community, small group network and the global PEACE initiative."
Saddleback Church's PEACE Plan, developed by Warren, is an initiative to mobilize millions of Christians to fight the five global giants: spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education.
On a whole, the Purpose Driven Connection platforms will all be "purpose driven," designed to reinforce the five purposes Jesus identified in the Great Commandment and Great Commission: Knowing Christ, Relating to His family, Growing in Christ, Serving Christ, and Sharing Christ.
The Great Commandments corresponds to the five biblical purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and missions as discussed in Warren's books The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church.
"We are excited about this new partnership and its unprecedented potential for exponential impact, especially in the 68 countries where local churches have launched the PEACE plan," Warren said.
Reader's Digest Association's Alyce Alston, president of RDA's Home & Garden and Health & Wellness affinities, calls the project with Saddleback one of the company's "most important and far-reaching ventures ever – spanning the globe with several of our core communication capabilities."
"Together we are creating an authentic category-busting multimedia suite that will help millions of people in their daily lives - including those who already follow the purpose driven principles, as well as seekers everywhere looking for greater fulfillment," Alston said.
Since The Purpose Driven Life was released in 2002, it has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and has been read by 19 percent of Americans.