by Sandy Simpson, 3/04
The Purpose-Driven Church, Purpose-Driven Life and every other "purpose-driven" program that Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is selling to the Christian masses at the moment has an underlying agenda that is hardly highlighted by the Church or Christians. The church growth strategies that seem to work equally well for Christians, Mormons, Jews, Catholics and any other religion1 have a solid "profit-driven" motive built into the programs. If you meet the "felt needs" of people, they will come. And when they come they bring their checkbooks with them. The more that come, the merrier. The more people, the more money, the more programs, the more political "apostolic" power. Though these programs claim to be focused on the needs of people, the profit part of the equation is never far form the surface. Bruce Wilkinson's "Jabez" book purported to teach people how to claim God's blessing by demanding that He "expand their territories". But the Jabez book expanded into a Jabez empire, giving Wilkinson and others of like mind a "financial anointing" to foist more wealth building programs on the churches ... all in the name of building God's kingdom. Of course, somebody forgot that it is God Who builds His Church and His Kingdom, and often His methods are radically different from those whose methods are based on business savvy, statistics, and false doctrines of health and wealth.
Purpose-Driven Life Sales
The Purpose-Driven Life is perhaps one of the highest selling books ever in the history of Christendom. The key to getting the book into churches has been a discipleship campaign called "40 Days of Purpose," which is coordinated with Warren's ministry at Saddleback Church. Incorporating a satellite simulcast highlighting Warren's teachings from the book, the campaign has reached thousands of churches and directly resulted in sales well into six figures.2Note this quote from the Fuller Seminary web site that sponsors Rick Warren's "Pastors.com":
The real runaway bestseller in the country right now is The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. It’s listed as #2 in your report, but you need to know that Nielsen, the N.Y. Times, and USA Today, et al - DO NOT COUNT any books sold through Christian bookstores. So, since October 2002, The Purpose-Driven Life has actually sold nearly 13 MILLION COPIES (yes, THIRTEEN MILLION), meaning it is by far and away the #1 selling book in America. This year it’s even outsold Harry Potter; in fact, according to the numbers in your report, this non-fiction book has outsold both Harry Potter AND the DaVinci Code combined! And if you then add the sales for the South Beach Diet to the Potter/DaVinci numbers - it is ONLY THEN that you get in the neighborhood of The Purpose-Driven Life booksales. To look at it another way, if you added up all the sales for the top 20 non-fiction books (based on Nielsen) listed in your article, you don’t come anywhere near matching THIRTEEN MILLION in sales (Ironic, huh, that BookScan captures 70-80% of all book sales in the U.S., but in this instance, they’re actually missing 70-80% of the sales!). Yet, the national media has largely IGNORED this book! Millions of Americans are reading it and at least 25,000 churches from 80 different denominations have used (or will be using) it as a devotional, yet very few national media outlets see the significance of what is happening. I believe we’re seeing the first wave of what may be a great national revival and that Rick Warren may be the Billy Graham of our generation (Okay, I don’t claim to be objective; I do work for Rick, yet the THIRTEEN MILLION in sales gives you significant empirical evidence, and from our view, that means THIRTEEN MILLION people who have been touched by the transforming power of Christ).3
The Christian Booksellers Association regularly rates the top Christian books sold. As of 3/04 here Rick Warren was at the #1 and #2 slot:
1 The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren, Zondervan
2 The Purpose Driven Life Journal Rick Warren, Inspirio (Zondervan)4
A newer estimate puts Warren's sales for Purpose Driven Life at closer to 15 million.
Author Rick Warren sold 15 million copies of The Purpose Driven Life last year to people in transition.5
In a magnanimous gesture, Warren paid back his church for 24 years of salary they had paid him, though this may also be a slick tax dodge for him personally.
Rick Warren used the profits from "The Purpose-Driven Life" to pay back 24 years of salary to his church. (Zondervan)6
Warren's housing allowance was also the subject of a suit brought by the IRS against Warren in 2002.
He included between 84% to 100% of his salary as housing allowance for the years in question. (http://www.abcpsw.com/finhousallowcourt.html)
(Rick Warren) founded a church in 1980. By 1992, its congregation had grown to over 18,000. At that time, the minister and his wife purchased a home for $360,000. The fair rental value of the home in 1993 was $58,061, and the minister’s salary for that year was $77,663. The minister earned close to $200,000 that year by selling religious tapes and books. Since the entire amount of his pay was designated by the church as a housing allowance and the family used all of it to pay household expenses, the minister excluded all his 1993 salary from his gross income. The IRS said the exclusion in IRC section 107(2) was limited to the fair market rental value of the home. The Tax Court rejected this argument and found nothing in the code to support this position. (Warren v. Commissioner, 114 TC no. 23.) (http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/aug2000/taxmat.htm)
The suit, fortunately for Warren, was dismissed.
If we multiply 15 million by the Amazon.com purchase price of Purpose-Driven Life at $11.99 (down from $19.00 each), we come up with a gross sales figure of $179, 850, 000. (one hundred seventy nine million dollars). Assuming the books were produced for $2. each by Zondervan, and then sold to Amazon and others for 50% of the retail price which would be $5.99 each, that gives Zondervan a net profit of $59,925,000. (fifty nine million nine hundred twenty five dollars). We don't have sales figures for his Purpose-Driven Life Journal, but apparently it has sold close to as many copies as the PD Life book. At a sales price on Amazon of $10.49 each, you do the math. This is enough money to finance any number of small nations around the world. Even if Warren is making $.75 profit per book, which I am told is a typical royalty, he has raked in around $11,250,000. for the Purpose-Driven Life book alone. This makes Rick Warren a multimillionaire and has helped rejuvenate Zondervan's flagging books sales of the 1990s. This is why Zondervan and other book publishers will not hear one word about these books being unbiblical. It is also enough to keep Rick Warren's products on the bookshelves for the forseeable future and propagate the New Apostolic Reformation agenda till every Christian has been diapraxed into it. So money does matter and there is a real "profit-driven" agenda behind it all!
Purpose-Driven Church Sales
If you think Purpose-Driven Life was not enough money to pay Warren's salary for 24 years, make him a rich man for the rest of his life, and fund most of the New Apostolic Reformation Church Growth projects for the rest of this century, you need to realize that the book the Purpose-Driven agenda is built upon, The Purpose-Driven Church, also sold at least 1 million copies to date, and is likely to sell many, many more when those who bought PD Life decide to go back and read his former tome.
The Purpose-Driven Church, won the Gold Medallion Award and was named one of the 100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.7
If numbers were the only standard of success, The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick Warren would stand as one of the greatest books of our time. Having sold over one million copies in 20 different languages, it was selected as one of the “100 Christian Books that Changed the 20th Century.” Its supporters include men like W. A. Criswell, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, Adrian Rogers, and Jack Hayford.8 Rick Warren is well known as the pioneer of The Purpose-Driven Church paradigm for church health. More than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from over 125 countries have attended Purpose-Driven Church seminars in 18 languages. Peter Drucker calls him 'the inventor of perpetual revival.' Rick's previous book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has sold over a million copies in 20 languages. Winner of the Gold Medallion Ministry Book of the Year, it is used as a textbook in most seminaries, and was selected as one of the 100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.9
The Purpose-Driven Church sells for $13.99 on Amazon, so using our previous formula gross sales would be $13,990,000. so minus manufacturing that leaves a cool net profit for Zondervan of $4,995.000., and these sales will undoubtedly increase due to the popularity of his new book. At $.75 per book royalty to Warren it comes to $750,000.
According to the Purpose-Driven website, "Rick and his wife, Kay, live in Trabuco Canyon, California. They have three children, and a dog." Sounds nice but keep in mind that if the IRS thought Rick Warren's home was "too expensive" in 1992, what do other people think? (http://www.abcpsw.com/finhousallowcourt.html) What is his house worth now? What kind of message does this send to people about the lifestyle of Christians?
Prayer Of Jabez Sales
Bruce Wilkinson also made a killing with his book promoting pragmatic prayers that the Bible does not. He took an obscure prayer in the Old Testament and projected it on to the Word-Faith diapraxed church giving it another excuse to tell God what to do.
Wilkinson was already a highly successful author and creator of the Atlanta-based Walk Through the Bible seminar organization when he gained international fame by writing a little book called The Prayer of Jabez (Multonomah, $9.99) which has sold about 10 million copies in the United States and has been translated into some 15 languages. "It was highly stressful," said Wilkinson. "The overnight nature of it was part of it. We finally had the resources to do some of the things we wanted to do."10
Notice Wilkinson's reaction and where he was when he heard that he had sold 5 million copies, half of the sales today which are likely way beyond 10 million. CUMMING, Ga. -- Bruce Wilkinson is sitting on the deck of his massive house an hour north of Atlanta, looking heavenward as a gee-whiz grin spreads across his face. He has just heard the latest sales figures for "The Prayer of Jabez," his half-inch thick, index card-size book that has sold nearly 5 million copies and remains atop the bestseller lists.11
Wilkinson is now a multimillionare many times over due to his Jabez book empire. No wonder he quit his job at Walk Through The Bible! To his credit, Wilkinson left his massive home in Atlanta, GA and recently moved to Johannesburg, South Africa to "help with famine, poverty, and the AIDS crisis", according to his "Breakthrough Series" web site. It does strike me, however, that this move could also pose a handy tax dodge so that he can keep his millions. We will have to wait and see. I can only hope that some of his millions will be used to help the poor people there. Now if he would just quit writing books full of unbiblical ideas! But then he all the money he made from the sale of unbiblical books with which to help the poor.
Wild At Heart Sales
Another extremely popular book, and one that is leading Christians into heresy, is Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. Here is the ranking as of 3/04 from Christian Booksellers Association in the Christian Living category:
#1 Wild at Heart John Eldredge, Nelson12
Wild At Heart is another huge seller. "At the same time," Mr. Moore continued, "some of our established best-sellers, such as Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge, and I Hope You Dance, by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, are going strong after three years in release."13 Wild at Heart is expected to surpass one-million in sales this year! Through John Eldredge’s wildly popular book, men have rediscovered their masculine souls and renewed their perspective on life. But what happens when they finish the book? How do they keep the fire burning in their hearts?14
John Eldredge also has other big selling books, is a multimillionare now, and lives in Colorado Springs in a $750,000. (three-quarters of a million dollar) home.
It is not a sin to make money selling books. What is a sin is to (1) act like this is not one objective of both the Church Growth Movement and these individuals, (2) claim that because they have made a lot of money that they are anonited by God to lead the church into a new paradigm and (3) publish books that appeal to a mass market at the expense of truth. These authors, among many others, turn around (after becoming multimillionaires) and try to claim that this is a sign that God is blessing them and that they were doing it as a "ministry" all along. But the very principles they espouse in their books guarantee their huge book sales because the Gospel is hardly mentioned AT ALL. Where the Gospel is not preached there will be little or no offense ... where there is no offense there can be no repentance and justification before God through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. But where there is no offence there are also HUGE book sales!
The Church has been dumbed down and the Gospel has been smoothed over in order to build bigger churches, appeal to the world, make money and thereby assure the "success" of these books and agendas till Jesus Christ comes back to put it all into perspective ... or in biblical terms, judge the righteous and unrighteous. All I can say is that I hope these people and many other Latter Rain/Third Wave promoters like them enjoy their riches and success now. This is because when Jesus comes back He will ask them if they obeyed the Gospel and God's Word.
Where are they laying up their treasure? God is looking for obedience and for the building of His Kingdom HIS WAY... not by programs, not by seeker friendly methods, not by diaprax, not by making huge sums of money on unbiblical books, and not by turning the church into a worldly, nominal "Christian" club.
Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
1 - Warren is part of the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention, and all his senior staff sign on to the SBC's doctrines, such as the literal and infallible Bible and exclusion of women as senior pastors. Yet Warren's pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women. "I'm not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won't try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?" he asks, citing as his model Billy Graham, "a statesman for Christ ministering across barriers." ("This evangelist has a 'Purpose'", by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY, 7/21/2003)
2 - Sean Fowlds, Christian Reader, http://www.christianitytoday.com/cr/2003/006/4.16.html
3 - Jon Walker, Director of Content, Pastors.com, http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=5180
4 - Christian Booksellers Association, Top 50 Books List, March 2004, http://www.cbaonline.org/TrackingLists/top.jsp?w=b
5 - Recession or Transition?, Tom Pryor, http://www.icms.net/recession_or_transition.htm
6 - Faith, Moving Mountains of Books, Rick Warren's Spiritual Bestseller Is A Nontraditional-Marketing Miracle, by Linton Weeks and Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Staff Writers, Sunday, February 22, 2004; Page D01, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61136-2004Feb21.html
7 - THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN® LIFE SELLS 10 MILLION COPIES, New York Times #1 Bestseller Reaches Milestone in 13 Months, Jeff Lambert, Tara Powers, Lambert, Edwards & Associates, Inc., http://www.religionnews.com/press02/PR112603.html
8 - The Purpose-Driven Church (a Book Review), Nathan Busenitz, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1016541/posts
9 - SPIRIT-LED OR PURPOSE DRIVEN?, Berit Kjos, October 9, 2003, NewsWithViews.com, http://www.pastors.com/aboutus/
10 - Posted on Sat, Oct. 25, 2003, 'Prayer of Jabez' author has a new dream to follow, By Jim Jones, Special to the Star-Telegram, http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/living/religion/7101971.htm
11 - 'Prayer of Jabez' sells big-time, but many not sold on its message, AP, June 8, 2001, http://www.chicagotribune.com/ http://www.apologeticsindex.org/news1/an010608-01.html
12 - Christian Living, Top Bestsellers List, March 2004, http://www.cbaonline.org/External_Content/marchbsls.pdf?w=t
13 - Thomas Nelson Posts 59% Gain in Net Income For the Third Quarter, Up 68% For The Nine Months Through December 31, 2003, Thursday February 12, 6:30 am ET, http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/040212/125068_1.html
14 - AO-Soft Books, http://www.ao-soft.com/aklbooks/084995763X.cfm