Should Southern Baptists Be Paying Attention to Rick Warren?
“For decades, the ministry philosophy that built Saddleback Church, called The Purpose Driven Church, has influenced a generation of pastors worldwide selling over a million and half copies in English alone. I’ve required it as a text for years in my evangelism classes at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I recruited Rick to be my teaching assistant for 3 years. After Billy Graham, he is, without a doubt, the best known Southern Baptist around the world.
But Rick’s strategy is nothing new. He admits this. It is based on the protestant, and particularly Southern Baptist, doctrine of the priesthood of every believer, or as they say at Saddleback “Every member is a minister.” While all Baptists claim to believe in the priesthood of every believer, none apply this New Testament principle as thoroughly and radically as Saddleback does. It is the foundation of Saddleback’s growth and massive mobilization that has sent 24,869 members overseas to serve in 197 nations.
Saddleback believes that every boy and girl, every son and daughter, and every man and woman, is equally ordained by God as a priest, and gifted by God for church ministry. There are no boundaries or barriers for ministry at Saddleback. You are saved to serve, and moment you come out of the baptism waters, your ministry begins. “You only have to be one step ahead to lead,” says Rick.
If Southern Baptist, or any Christian fellowship, want to experience real revival, I recommend they start with understanding how this church has figured out how to actually practice the priesthood of every believer in such a liberating way. It’s the closest example to the New Testament church that I’ve ever seen.”
Roy J. Fish
Professor of Evangelism, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Author, Every Member Evangelism for Today
“Rick Warren’s strategy for completing the Great Commission is the most biblical, most comprehensive, and greatest vision for world missions that I’ve ever seen, or heard, or read about in my lifetime of ministry. I’m so proud of what Rick, my son in the ministry, has already accomplished. I just wish I could live long enough to see the rest of his vision happen.”
“God could not have given me a more beloved and effective son in the ministry than Rick Warren. I am honored beyond words to be called his “father in the ministry.” Saddleback church became the fastest growing, and now largest Baptist church in the history of America. In 1995, Saddleback was selected as the Key Church of The Year by the Home Mission Board of the SBC. Rick Warren’s ministry is grounded and rooted in the infallible and inerrant Word of God, Spirit-anointed servant leadership, and a genuine heart of love for his people. The Purpose-Driven Church will help every local church, regardless of size, to recapture the mission of a New Testament church. My prayer to God is that thousands of pastors, staff members, Sunday school teachers, and spiritual leaders will read this book.
W.A. Criswell (From his Foreword for The Purpose Driven Church)
President of the SBC (1969-1970)
“God used my dear friend Rick Warren to challenge my thinking in so many areas of church growth in an incredible way. I’ve even preached some of his sermons. The Purpose Driven Church is a must-read book for every pastor.
President of the SBC (1979-1980, 1986-1988)
While other pastors were focused on climbing the denominational ladder, Rick Warren went out and built the largest and most effective evangelistic church in the Southern Baptist Convention. You may not agree with everything but Rick Warren should be teaching all the rest of us.
President of the SBC (1980-1982)
“The Purpose Driven Church should be read by every pastor. Rick Warren is one of the most thoughtful, biblical, and intentional people I know. Few men have the biblical focus and conscious reasons for every action that Rick does. The Purpose-Driven Church is thoroughly biblical and it works.”
President of the SBC (1982-1984)
“Rick’s Purpose Driven Church is absolutely essential reading for all who love and serve the Bride of Christ, and whose life assignment is to make disciples. The biblical principles of The Purpose-Driven Church have been tested in the crucible of experience and proven solid. Read this book.”
President of the SBC (1992-1994)
“If I had to pick just one book on the church to recommend to pastors, I would choose Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church. If I could, I would make Ricks book required reading for every single seminary student.”
President of the SBC (1994-1996)
“I was greatly blessed by reading The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren. I not only found it to be overwhelmingly and solidly anchored in the New Testament scriptures, but I also found myself learning from the insights that Rick has garnered across the years of pastoring. I used Rick’s book to teach Ecclesiology in seminary classes at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary because it was the best at explaining God’s purposes for his church. Unlike most church growth books, The Purpose-Driven Church manifests remarkable thoughtfulness and genuine devotion to the one thing that really matters - bringing men and women to God through Jesus Christ.”
President of the SBC (1998-2000)
“My good friend, Rick Warren has finally done his fellow pastors, the church, and the Kingdom a real service in putting into print the principles undergirding the miracle known as Saddleback Church. The chapter "Worship that Witnesses to Unbelievers" alone is worth the price of the book. If only I had been taught some of these principles when I was in seminary.”
President of the SBC (2000-2002)
“If you want to grow healthy churches, and accomplish God's purposes for his church in your generation, this is the book is for you! The amazing story of Saddleback church reads like a fresh encounter with the book of Acts. The Purpose-Driven Church will energize your life and ministry with a strategy that is as new as the 21st century and as biblical as the New Testament.”
President of the SBC (2002-2004)
“The Purpose-Driven Church will likely have as significant an impact on the future of Christianity as any book ever released. It comes straight from the heart of Rick Warren so it is filled with biblical passion and creativity. Every church leader in America needs to read this book! I look forward to seeing the influence of it in the decades to come.”
President of the SBC (2014-2016)
“The Purpose Driven Church contains all the spiritual and practical wisdom that will empower the church to reach the world in the 21st century. It carefully and biblically communicates how to share the unchanging, eternal message of God’s Word using new methods needed in our ever-changing world.”
President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Biblical! Balanced! Practical! Powerful! Rick Warren has provided a helpful analysis on contextualizing the church without compromising the message. You will want to read and use this book.
Former President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“One of my faculty half joked that we need a course in commonsense but that they couldn't find anyone to teach it. Well, Rick Warren serves generous helpings of biblically informed common-sense in his book, The Purpose Driven Church. I highly recommend this book.”
Former President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Every seminary graduate should be handed a copy of this book along with a diploma. Two years into ministry, the new pastor will thank God for Rick Warren's wisdom. I will see to it that every graduate of Golden Gate Seminary gets a copy of this book. I wish Rick had written it forty years ago when I began my ministry.”
Former President, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
“Saddleback church's growth is the miracle story of the century! I enthusiastically recommend The Purpose Driven Church to anyone who wants to build a great New Testament church. We did Rick’s 40 Days of Purpose at Thomas Road and I preached Rick’s 7 messages and we had great growth. My friend, Rick Warren built the largest and most influential church in the SBC. By training pastors all around the world, Rick’s impact has been so great that Liberty University awarded him an honorary doctorate.”
Founder, Liberty University
“Destined to be a classic, the key to the greatness of this book is it's passion and balance. Every student in the Billy Graham School at Southern Seminary will be required to read The Purpose-Driven Church.”
(While) Dean of Billy Graham School, Southern Baptist Seminary
“The Purpose Driven Church literally launched the global movement of planting and revitalizing churches. From our many Lifeway national surveys and interviews, pastors left no doubt, by a wide margin, that they consider The Purpose Driven Church to be THE most helpful and important book they’ve ever read on ministry. Year after year, pastors continue to name this book as the most as most helpful, influential, and most life-changing book for their ministry – by a wide margin. Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, is a distant second place.”
Former President, Lifeway
“My friend, Rick Warren taught me a new way to preach – principle-centered preaching - and it changed my ministry. The Purpose Driven Church shows what can happen when a church is committed to both the power and authority of God's Word and being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Rick will challenge and inspire you like few others.”
Former President of the SBC Pastor’s Conference
“After all the church growth hype by people who've never done it, The Purpose Driven Church was a breath of fresh air for the SBC. Where Rick Warren is in principle, we all need to be. It's hard to argue with biblical principles and the voice of experience. We all just need to do what this book says.”
Former President of the SBC Pastor’s Conference
“One hundred years from now, The Purpose Driven Life will still be on the shelves of seminary students beside their Bibles and Spurgeon's Lectures To My Students. It’s that important. It will last, and last, and last, and still last because its biblical principles are timeless.”
Bob Roberts, Jr.
Pastor, Northwood Baptist Church
“This is absolutely the best book on the church ever written. It needs to be read by every layman and women in the SBC, not just by pastors. It could save our churches from decline and division and death. I wish and pray that every pastors and core leadership of every new SBC church plant will study the incredible wisdom of this book. It will give hope and help to SBC churches of all sizes, and in all contextual situations.”
Former Vice President, New Churches, NAMB
“This is the best book on church growth I've ever seen. it is biblical, practical, and visionary; it is Christ-centered; it focuses on church health; it dispels many erroneous myths about how churches grow; it gives down-to- earth help on worship, discipleship, and ministry. I love it because it presents a truly scriptural model for ministry. Every pastor and church leader should read it! Rick Warren knows what building a church is all about.”
Professor of Evangelism, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
“This book will be required reading for all my students. The insights on church health and growth will help you whether your church is traditional or contemporary.”
Former Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism, Wheaton College
now at Southern Baptist Seminary
“Occasionally God chooses to bless his Church with a man of unusual ability and heart who can both communicate and model truth for his generation. Rick Warren is such a man. He writes in a readable, authentic, and stirring manner. Don't miss reading his wisdom in The Purpose Driven Church.”
Retired Professor, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“I consider Rick Warren to be one of the greatest thinkers in the church today. In The Purpose Driven Church he shares how biblical principles combined with integrity, passion and skill can create a world-changing congregation. It’s a classic for all time.”
Dwight "Ike" Reighard
Pastor, Piedmont Baptist Church
“God raised up Rick Warren to show us how to reach unbelievers in large numbers. His purpose-driven principles are the most productive tools I've been given in 40 years of ministry. Every pastor should be required to read and reread The Purpose Driven Church”
Former Pastor, Champion Forest Baptist Church