Liebmann_lenny_70307Purposeful pastor Lenny Liebman working the crowd on Broad Street after the 2007 Red Bank fireworks.

Harnessing the popularity of a longtime best-seller, four Red Bank churches are getting together next month to jointly offer sermons and discussions of ‘The Purpose-Driven Life‘ by Rick Warren.

Dubbed “40 Days of Purpose,” the program, which begins October 4, aims to have congregants and visitors read an excerpt of the book each day and attend one church service and one small-group meeting each week for six weeks.

Participating are the First Baptist Church on Maple Avenue; Red Bank Community Church on Monmouth Street; Trinity Episcopal Church on West Front Street; and Mount Zion House of Prayer on Catherine Street.

Pastor Lenny Liebman of the nondenominational Red Bank Community Church says the joint effort grew out of discussions at the Greater Red Bank Ministers Association, which fosters cooperation and unity among local congregations.

“We’re making history by having four very different congregations do a single cooperative Bible study,” Liebman tells redbankgreen via email. “Congregations have historically gotten together to do good works in the community or put on a special service. But this kind of coordinated campaign to reach an entire community is pretty leading-edge — and it’s something you’re going to start seeing elsewhere in the country in the near future.”

According to Wikipedia’s entry on the book, more than 30,000 congregations, corporations, sports teams and other groups have already done something similar.

The New York Times described Warren’s 2002 book as “a friendly, nondenominational guide that urges readers to explore what they were placed on earth to do.” Here’s what Wikpedia has to say:

The book is intended to be read as a daily inspiration, with each of the forty short chapters read on consecutive days. Each chapter contains a personal application section at the end with a “point to ponder,” a verse to remember, and a question to consider over the course of that day. Rick Warren described his book as an “anti-self-help book.” The first sentence of the book reads, “It’s not about you,” and the remainder of the chapter goes on to explain how the quest for personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and meaning can only be found in understanding and doing what God placed you on Earth to do.

redbankgreen asked Liebman if this event is a sign of religion taking cues from the self-help section of the bookstore. His reply:

Warren’s book does get categorized with the ‘self-help’ genre. It’s a little bit differentiated, though. And it is the biggest seller of its type ever. I would probably contend that most self-help material gets its cue from the Church. After all, the 12-step programs themselves have their origin in the Church.

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