Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has released his first book since his best-selling Purpose Driven Life as part of a special three-tool outreach for the Christmas season.
"People are more open to the Gospel at Christmas than any other time," explains the pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
And the three "amazing" tools that Warren and his team have created "are going to help us understand the meaning and purpose of Christmas," he adds.
All three tools are based off a Christmas message Warren had delivered two years ago at his Southern California megachurch that drew around 4,000 people and saw more than 2,000 accept Christ.
"Fox News then showed it on their television show the next year," Warren recalls. "The year after that, the Armed Services Network asked to show it to their entire Armed Services network around the world, so I decided, 'Why don't I turn this into a little booklet – kind of a handout for evangelism?'"
The result is The Purpose of Christmas, a small gift book that Warren describes as "pure gospel."
"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," Warren says.
Using Christmas, the book 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 Purpose of Christmas follows Warren's bestselling Purpose Driven Life, which has sold 52 million copies since its release six years ago. Described as the best-selling nonfiction hardback book in history, the 2002 devotional book rocketed the Southern California 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.
"We're going to be praying that this book is used widely to win many people to Christ."
The second tool that was created for Christians and churches to use in the months of November and December is a three-week small group curriculum based on the three parts of Warren's Christmas message.
"We took those three parts and made it into three-part evangelistic small group Bible studies that you can get on the purpose of Christmas to reach into your community to win more people to Christ," Warren reports.
The "Purpose of Christmas Study" for groups and families features three sessions taught by Rick Warren on why Christians celebrate Christmas and how it can change people's lives forever. The 64-page study guide is used in conjunction with the teaching DVD.
The third tool, "The Purpose of Christmas" CD, was developed by Warren's son, Josh, and Saddleback member and musician David Pack.
The 16-track CD 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 on this CD compilation, they will begin to understand what Christmas means to them personally, deepening their regard and respect for this season."
David Pack, the visionary and producer of the CD project, meanwhile, says the theme of the CD "is one that will move and inspire the entire nation."
"The true purpose and meaning of Christmas is one we should all be reminded of as we approach the busy holiday season," he says. "I am honored to have had the opportunity to partner with such great artists, singers and songwriters to help convey this powerful message through music."
Like the book, all net proceeds of the 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 Zondervan, meanwhile, are available at stores nationwide.