Rick Warren's first released book since his highly popular Purpose Driven Life is another best seller and will likely continue its climb as America heads past Thanksgiving and toward Christmas.
After two weeks on the bookshelves, The Purpose of Christmas has been listed among the New York Times' top 5 bestselling Hardcover Advice books. It is also currently No. 25 on USA Today's weekly top 150 best sellers overall after debuting at No. 27.
"This book, The Purpose of Christmas, is the most clear definition of Christianity – of what it means to follow Jesus, what it means to be saved – of anything I've ever written," says Warren, who pastors Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
"The book is cleverly simple and profound," adds Pastor Phil Munsey of the Life Church in Mission Viejo, Calif.
"This book won't answer the questions of the skeptic, but it will answer the sincere quest of those who just want the simple truth of the most celebrated holiday in the world," Munsey told the OC Register of Orange County. "If you want to recapture the innocent childlike faith you embraced … this book will cause you to rejoice."
Based off a Christmas message Warren had delivered two years ago at his Southern California megachurch, The Purpose of Christmas explains why Jesus Christ came to earth – which Warren says can be summed up through the three statements given by the angels that appeared at the first Christmas.
"First, he (the angel) said 'I bring you good news of great joy.' It's a time for celebration," explains Warren. "And then he says, 'for on this day is born to you a savior, who is Christ the Lord.' It's a time for salvation. And then he says 'Peace on earth; goodwill toward men.' It's a time for reconciliation.
"Jesus Christ came to the earth for celebration, salvation, and reconciliation," Warren says. "In other words, to make peace with God, to make peace with ourselves, to make peace with other people."
The 125-page gift book follows Warren's bestselling The Purpose Driven Life, which has sold 52 million copies since its release six years ago. Described as the bestselling nonfiction hardback book in history, the 2002 devotional book rocketed the Baptist pastor into national prominence and was also most identified in a Barna survey of American pastors and ministers as the book that was most influential on their lives and ministries.
Even compared to it, however, Warren says The Purpose of Christmas is "the most evangelistic book I've ever written."
"It's the clearest presentation of the Gospel," he says.
In addition to the book, two other "amazing tools" were created by Warren and his team to help people understand the meaning and purpose of Christmas.
The second tool that was created is a three-week small group curriculum based on the three parts of Warren's Christmas message and intended for Christians and churches to use in the months of November and December. The third is a 16-track CD that intertwines inspirational Christmas songs – sung by such well-known artists as Sarah McLachlan, Martina McBride, ThirdDay and Vince Gill – with inspiring narrative from Warren explaining the three purposes of Christmas as detailed in his book.
"God's message of the purpose of Christmas is clearly written in His Word," says Warren. "I believe that when people experience the Good News … they will begin to understand what Christmas means to them personally, deepening their regard and respect for this season.
"We're going to be praying that this book is used widely to win many people to Christ," he adds.
All net proceeds of The Purpose of Christmas book and CD will go to benefit Saddleback Church's PEACE Plan – a global initiative created by Warren to mobilize millions of Christians in the fight against the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education.
The CD, which comes with a bonus DVD of Warren's message, is currently available exclusively at Wal-Mart stores through an exclusive arrangement.
The Purpose of Christmas book and the DVD study curriculum materials from Christian publishing giant Zondervan, meanwhile, are available at stores nationwide.