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ISSUE 117 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/19/2004

Warren's book gives life entirely new 'Purpose'

By Laura Trude
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 19, 2004

Many college students ask: what is the purpose of my life? Rev. Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church, which he dubbed "the fastest growing Baptist church in history," wrote the book "The Purpose-Driven Life." The book answers many questions about the meaning of life confronted by college students and all people. The fundamental questions the book provokes readers to ask themselves: for whom am I working? "The Purpose-Driven Life" has sold over 10 million copies and has been number one on the New York Times Bestseller list under "Hardcover Advice" for months.

Why is this book so popular? There are a number of students on the St. Olaf campus who have read the book, who believe they have the answer to this question. "[It addresses] the things that everyone thinks about and everyone is looking for the answer to, like: What is our purpose in life? How are we supposed to relate to God?" Amanda Allen `06 said.

Jenilyn Swett `04 and Jayme Rowoldt `04 are leading a study of "The Purpose-Driven Life" in Ytterboe lounge at 9 p.m. on Mondays during Lent. Swett believes that people pick-up the book to find answers. "They hope that by reading this book, they will find the sense of meaning and direction they're longing for," Swett said. She cautioned that the book, though Christian, cannot replace the Bible. In addition, she warned that it contains flaws and advised discussing the book with other people.

The advice Warren gives in "The Purpose-Driven Life" is based on his Christian beliefs. He speaks to the reader as an intimate friend: "The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. That's because we typically begin at the wrong starting point -- ourselves. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Warren breaks down the purposes of the Christian life into five general categories:

"1. Worship: you were planned for God's pleasure. 2. Fellowship: you were formed to be part of God's family. 3. Discipleship: you were created to become like Christ. 4. Ministry: you were shaped for God's service. 5. Mission: you were made to tell others about Christ."

Warren's book has been released at an opportune time. Many scholars believe America's youth are lost and confused; the situation is not improving as they come of age. In "When Hope and Fear Collide," Arthur Levine, President of Columbia University, writes that when he thinks of the current generation, "The picture that emerges is of a generation of young people living in a time of profound change -- demographic, economic, technological, global and social."

Warren believes that he has found the solution to the problem. People should look for meaning in the Christian God: "God longs for you to discover the life he created you to live -- here on earth, and forever in eternity. 'It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ,...he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone' Ephesians 1:11."

At Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Andover, Minn., over 300 people participated in "A Purpose-Driven Life" based study in January. "It's the best book I've read on sanctification," Rev. Dennis Perryman, senior pastor of the church, said.

Besides the study of the book at St. Olaf, Emmaus Baptist Church in Northfield is also hosting a study during Lent. Those seeking to define their own life's purpose may, or may not, benefit from attending.

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