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Changing the World is Too Much Fun

Rick Warren, Reader's Digest team up to start magazine, website for missions-minded Christians.

Sometimes rumors (and dreams) come true.

For months, there has been talk among ministry leaders, Christian journalists, and others that Rick Warren and the Reader's Digest Association were going to launch a magazine.

The announcement came today via email. Here's the basic concept:

The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., and Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church and the author of the worldwide best seller, "The Purpose Driven Life," today announced a partnership to produce an inspirational multimedia platform called The Purpose Driven Connection.

Together the organizations will pool their international resources to produce and publish this Purpose Driven platform to help people who are seeking their purpose in life and wish to interact with others on their spiritual journeys. The platform will provide a suite of bundled multimedia tools: "The Purpose Driven Connection," a quarterly magazine; Small Group study materials delivered in DVDs, workbooks and downloadable discussion guides; and a state-of-the-art Christian social networking website.

"We are excited about this new partnership and its unprecedented potential for international impact," said Warren, who will serve as Editor-in-Chief and be heavily involved in the conception of each element. "The Purpose Driven Connection represents more than simply integrated multimedia resources; it will become a platform for a movement of people to change the world."

"We are delighted to be working with Rick Warren and the Saddleback team," said Alyce Alston, President of RDA's Home & Garden and Health & Wellness affinities. "This is one of our company's most important and far-reaching ventures ever. Together we will create a 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."

The Purpose Driven Connection revolves around the theme, "Your Life Matters," and mirrors Warren's book, which has sold more than 30 million copies since being released in 2002 and has been read by 60 million people and translated into nearly 100 languages. It also relates to Saddleback Church's PEACE Plan, initiated by Warren, which mobilizes Christians to combat global problems affecting billions of people, including spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases and illiteracy. To date, the PEACE Coalition has advanced the program among the public, profit and faith sectors in 68 countries.

The magazine, to launch early in 2009, will include stories of everyday people who have found God's purpose for their lives. The framework for the platform will be designed to provide five practical tools to communicate five spiritual purposes – Knowing, Relating, Growing, Serving and Sharing – each through a combination of teaching and testimony.

"The magazine will be consistent with our highest editorial standards," said Frank Lalli, RDA's Vice President of International Editions and Magazine Development. "In the best traditions of RDA, we are commissioning extraordinary photographers, illustrators and writers to travel the world and capture real-life stories that will change how readers think and inspire them to take action to improve society."

Since I have been writing about Saddleback Church, Rick and Kay Warren, the PEACE Plan, and their HIV/AIDS outreach, it has been fascinating to see how the story has taken many ups and downs, twists and turns.

Some parties seem to be missing in action here: Zondervan publishing, Fox broadcasting, News Corp.; and, Rupert Murdoch. In fact, Warren's new seasonal title, "The Purpose of Christmas," is being published by Howard Books. Simon and Schuster, the big New York House, purchased Howard Books in 2006.

Surely, News Corp. would have the global resources to produce The Purpose Driven Connection, but apparently it was a no-go. Hard to sort out why.

But, bloggers and others have been critical of Warren's association with Murdoch at least since 2007. You might hate World Net Daily. But click here for their 2007 account of the criticism.

In mid-2008, I interviewed Rick on the phone for close to an hour, but only a small portion of the interview was published in CT. Keep reading for one on-the-record out-take from that interivew.

Changing the World is Fun:

I've spoken to dozens of Christian leaders who have had involvement with the PEACE Plan and Saddleback missions efforts. They seem to be having so much fun in doing Christian ministry.

So I asked Rick about the fun element:

One of the aspects of the PEACE Plan that I don't think you and I have ever talked about is the fun quotient. The people who are engaged in this process are having fun. They're having the time of their life. Is that right?

It's fun. It's fulfilling, and it's life changing. It's paradigm shaking. The old idea, as we talked about before, of paying, praying, stay out of the way and let the professionals do it, those days are over.

Because we are so connected globally now and you can see what's going on around the world and you can literally practically go anywhere in the world in about 24 hours, that means these people are no longer contented just giving a check. They want to be involved. They want to be involved. And when they go, they experience things that change their lives.

As I have said before, the old paradigm of missions was you pray about it, you pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. Then you study, study, study, study, study. And then you give, give, give, give, give. Maybe someday you go.

But PEACE turns that thing on its head. PEACE says just go. Don't even pray about it. Just go, because the Bible says go. And it doesn't say get a whole bunch of training before you go; it just says go.

And then, once you go, when you get out there, it grabs your heart.

And that is truly when the fun begins.

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