Rick Warren to Head 200,000 Missionaries

I missed this from Time a couple of weeks ago:

Already established as perhaps the most important voice in contemporary American Evangelical Christianity, Rick Warren last week pressed the button that he hopes will take his “brand” to the ends of the earth.

Warren’s “brand” consists of the ideas in his Purpose Driven Life book, which was recently described by Jeff Sharlet as a “spiritual time-management manual”. Linked to this is Warren’s “PEACE” plan for the economic and spiritual development of Africa, and his vision has been “beta-tested” (Time’s word) in Rwanda (as I blogged here and here) and Uganda (where Warren recently expressed his strong support for laws against homosexuality). Now Warren has apparently brought much of the US evangelical mainstream on board at a “PEACE Coalition Summit”:

…If last week’s conference increases the number of participant congregations in the PEACE plan from 12 to 1,200 — a reasonable estimate, given that 1,700 pastors were in attendance and many actually head networks of congregations — then the number of PEACE missionaries would jump from roughly 2,000 a year to 200,000…

Warren is particularly excited by the hands-on involvement of some of the larger players in the Evangelical community. “A guy was going, ‘I’ll take Mozambique,’ and another guy was going ‘I’ll take Nigeria,’ ” he said happily, adding that he’s already secured personal commitments from influential leaders in the Salvation Army and the Assemblies of God (the largest Pentecostal denomination.) “They’ve said, they’re in, and they have to get their boards along,” he reported.

Warren is also keeping the home front in mind; an interview from the Religion News Service notes that he is also planning a “40 Days of Purpose” event for New York City. Says Warren:

The idea behind “40 Days of Purpose” is that the pastor teaches on it so you hear it, then you read about it every day, then you discuss it in a small group and then you memorize a Bible verse about it and then you do a project with a group of other people.

By (using those) five ways, we find that people’s spiritual maturity was growing a whole lot faster than if I just taught a series of messages on it. That was the idea of multiple reinforcement.

(Since 2002,) 31,000 churches in America — 31,000! — have done “40 Days of Purpose.” That’s one out of every 10 churches in America. Two thousand churches in the Philippines, 1,000 in Australia, about 800 in the United Kingdom. A group of churches said, “Why don’t we do this together as a city?”

And as for PEACE:

…The P.E.A.C.E. plan is 100 times more complex than the traditional ways to do mission. I’m willing to go slow at it in order to get the long-term benefits. If you’re going to do long-term, you have to start at the lowest level. You start at the village level, not at the top level… We’ve had invitations from Guatemala, from the Philippines and … other countries saying, “Could we be next?” In the last four years, I’ve sent out 7,766 of our members to 68 countries.

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