LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Rick Warren has joined with Reader’s Digest Association to produce a quarterly magazine called Purpose Driven Connection (PDC), which is intended to reach people who aren’t connected to churches.
“PDC magazine is all about transformation, not merely information. That’s what sets this magazine apart from many others. It is the purpose behind every word,” said Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of The Purpose Driven Life.
The premier issue, which debuted in January, has exceeded expectations in sales, Larry Ross, a spokesman for Warren, told Baptist Press.
“Rick Warren is a big visionary, and this is one of the most ambitious projects he has ever undertaken,” Ross said, noting that Warren serves as editor in chief of the project. “… Gallup and Barna have both done studies that show that 19 percent of the U.S. population, about 59 million people, has read The Purpose Driven Life.
“This has created a whole population of people out there who have started out on a spiritual journey but aren’t really connected with a church to go deeper in the Christian life,” Ross said.
Reader’s Digest Association (RDA) publishes 92 affinity magazines worldwide, including 50 editions of Reader’s Digest.
“According to our Reader’s Digest colleagues, they’ve termed this ‘category-busting, genre-breaking,’“ Ross said of PDC.
“People are looking to connect with the church and with God but also for tools to find spiritual solutions to the problems they face,” Ross said. “So connecting and equipping are the two dimensions of this project.”
One feature of the magazine is a link that directs people to the purposedriven.com website for discussion. People then have an opportunity to provide input or share their own story related to the material they’ve just read in the magazine, Ross said. Also, because the magazine is quarterly, the website provides additional news and feature articles between printings.
Purpose Driven Connection also offers a perspective on the news that is overlooked by the mainstream media, Ross said. For example, Warren was in Cambodia two years ago when he heard about a former Khmer Rouge leader who was responsible for the deaths of 17,000 people at a prison he managed.
A pastor in the region who was part of Warren’s network of half a million pastors trained in the Purpose Driven paradigm shared the gospel with the man, and he accepted Christ, went to seminary and became a pastor himself. When Warren told Reader’s Digest about the man’s testimony, RDA sent personnel to Cambodia to cover the story for the magazine.
“The story was driven by Rick but carried out by Reader’s Digest,” Ross said. “In the last several weeks this story has been covered almost daily in the international press including The New York Times. They’ve been carrying the story where he’s now on trial by the international court for his crimes.
“In the secular press there’s been no reference to this fellow’s dramatic conversion,” Ross added. “He’s the only one of all the (Khmer Rouge) people that has confessed his crimes. All of that is laid out in the Purpose Driven Connection.”
Also, the project is backed by two Reader’s Digest staffers who have experience with major publications. Alyce Alston, who is overseeing the project from the RDA side, helped launch O, The Oprah Magazine, and Frank Lalli, who is editorial director for PDC, was responsible for the launch of Every Day with Rachael Ray, which was the largest magazine launch in history, Ross said.
“So they’ve got the A-team on this,” Ross said.
For the premier issue, Reader’s Digest printed 400,000 copies of Purpose Driven Connection, and they plan to increase the number to half a million for subsequent issues, Ross said.
“We’ve heard reports that it sold out at some of the Wal-Marts the first days and weeks it was available,” he said. “So it’s been very well received in the first few weeks, far exceeding expectations.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)