Pastor Rick Warren, fresh from a firestorm of controversy over his inaugural invocation, is launching an array of multimedia products this week in conjunction with Reader’s Digest that will test the boundaries of faith and commercial media.
The showcase of Warren’s new media phalanx will be a quarterly publication called Purpose Driven Connection, which plays off the title of Warren’s mega-blockbuster publishing success, the Purpose Driven Life.
For a $29.99 subscription, readers will receive a bundle of products ranging from a Christian social-networking site, the quarterly magazine, DVD guides hosted by Warren on how to lead prayer groups, and more.
The Wall Street Journal reports publishing industry insiders are watching carefully to see if the project can succeed amidst the downturn in advertising revenues generally, and print revenues especially.
The Journal adds that “the religious zeal that has made Mr. Warren such a popular figure in the real world can be toxic in magazine publishing” because advertisers are hesitant to associate their brands with publications that cater to one faith community at the risk of alienating others.
Warren says the magazine will target its appeal to the estimated 100 million evangelicals in the United States.
“There’s a flat-out segment of Americans who are unashamed followers of Jesus Christ,” Warren told the Journal. “We’re not trying to make this a magazine for everybody.”
Reader’s Digest will use sign up-cards inserted into its other magazines to help promote the new venture, executives say.
On the PurposeDriven.com Web site, Warren invites people to use the study guides, magazines, and DVDs to learn how to open up their homes to study groups that will in turn help others improve their lives.
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