Purpose-Driven Life
January 5, 2004 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had experience with The Purpose-Driven Life or 40 Days of Purpose? [more inside]
posted by ahughey to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total)
Response by poster: Just recently, a friend has asked my wife and I to join them in a 40 Days of Purpose group she's hosting in her home. I had never heard of the Purpose Driven Life before and I offered a tentative maybe.

I have been looking for a good bible study/discussion group. I haven't been in one for a while, but the last time it was a very rewarding experience (spiritually, intellectually and socially). My own background is fairly academic and I have a broad foundation in the history of Christianity, so biblical study is not a new topic for me. But it's nice to slip away from a pure scholarly reading of religion and take a more faith-based approach.

From what I can tell, the basic book is nothing groundbreaking. Just a distillation (and genericization) of selected New Testament readings. A mass-market Christianity if you will. However, the accompanying materials (the PD challenge kit, the PD journal, PD keyring, PD scripture cards, PD inspirational book, etc.) certainly raise my eyebrow as to the motives of the publisher. Religion is a big business after all.

A few other tidbits have made me question the Purpose Driven program (more than just the fact it requires a program!). Because the book is selective about its scripture and pulls from a variety of different translations and paraphrases, I imagine that the selections lose their context (and impact).

What are your experiences with PD? Am I giving it an unnecessarily cold shoulder? Are there any thorough critiques of it available? How similar is it to a traditional bible study group?
posted by ahughey at 9:18 AM on January 5, 2004

Isn't there a book called The Purpose Driven Church? Seems like there was and seems like I read it. As to whether this fits your needs you probably need to ask yourself what you want from a Bible study.

You may want to investigate Experiencing God if it turns out the other program doesn't meet your needs. If it were me I think I'd pick that one as I know lots of folks who got a lot of good out of it (I skimmed it-haven't got around to going thru it yet.)

Also Beth Moore has a number of Bible study group manuals that are really fantastic. It's mostly meant for group use (has videos with it) but can be used freestanding. It digs deeply into the Scriptures yet brings it out into practical application as well.
posted by konolia at 10:01 AM on January 5, 2004

The purpose driven studies are really popular in my town this winter. I am involved in a group that is starting the 40 Days of Purpose study this week - I have heard a lot of really good things about it and the few chapters I skimmed (in the middle of the book) were pretty good. Though I do have to admit that the accompanying materials do worry me about the intent of the company.

And I would have to completely agree with konolia about the Beth Moore studies; the few I have done (one with a group and one alone) were really in-depth and eye-opening. Beth Moore taylors her studies specifically for women, but the few I have done were 95% applicable to both genders.
posted by rhapsodie at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2004

Best answer: I had a bad experience with Rick Warren's 40 Days of Purpose when a Presbyterian Church I attended at in Baltimore got so Purpose-Driven-crazy that they showed videos -- right in the middle of worship -- featuring scenes of "Purpose Driven" merchandise (keychains and dogtags and such) being lined up and sold to fervent churchgoers. It got so bad that the pastor's Easter sermon was co-opted by plugs for Rick Warren's church-building series. So I personally am somewhat leery of the whole program, especially where that merchandise is concerned.

Also see "Porpoise Driven Life, or diving through the flaming hoops of PowerPoint Theology" on Blogs4God for a nice collection of links.
posted by brownpau at 12:08 PM on January 5, 2004

How about coming up with your own independant study program? Groups can be useful to helping you develop your faith, but ultimately it's a personal relationship so taking time to develop it personally is important. It'll also help make your future participation in a group study effort more fulfilling, educational and useful to you and others.
posted by wobh at 12:24 PM on January 5, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks everyone who has responded so far. The article on Blogs4God was just what I was looking for, thanks brownpau! I was having trouble finding solid information on the program as most searches just turned up bookstores hawking the supplements.

Many of the answers suggested trying a different program or doing an independent study. Although I appreciate the advice, I'm more interested in opinions and experiences with this particular program. The opportunity just fell in my lap and I wanted to look into it.

PD is sounding more like something that wouldn't be particularly suitable for my wife and I. The moniker "PowerPoint Theology" seems right on target.
posted by ahughey at 1:13 PM on January 5, 2004

Brownpau, I also thank you for that link.

Ahughley, maybe at some later date those other programs may come in handy. Hope you find something just right for you!
posted by konolia at 1:40 PM on January 5, 2004

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