All good brands need a mission statement or a manifesto. Warren’s breakthrough to a mass audience came in 2002 with The Purpose Driven Life. His book describes itself as a “40-day spiritual journey for Christian living in the 21st century”. Though he rejects descriptions of it as a “self-help book” for the religious, it is reminiscent of the genre, with its folksy prose and short chapters. It reassures those with busy lives that they can converse with God “while shopping, driving or working” and that everyday tasks can be devoted to God including “taking out the trash”.
Warren says: “There’s not a new idea in [it] that hasn’t been said in 2,000 years of history. It’s been said all before. If I had a 15-word sentence, how could I say it in nine? How can I say it in five?”
Warren’s revolutionary tactic was to bypass bookshops and market the book directly to evangelical America, through its churches. It became a classic word-of-mouth success: it has sold more than 30m copies in the US, been translated into more than 50 languages and generated sequels.