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Rick Warren inspires students, preachers at AU

"What's in your hand?" That was the question posed several times by Pastor Rick Warren to an overflow crowd in Anderson University's Henderson Auditorium during an Oct. 3 chapel service.

Warren spoke at AU on Oct. 2 and 3, as part of the John A. Broaddus Lectures on Preaching. During his visit he delivered the sermon at the chapel service. Warren, one of the world's most influential evangelical leaders, used the story of Moses' first encounter with God to urge students to give Him their gifts and trust Him with the results.

In that biblical story, Moses' hand contained a simple shepherd's staff, but when he threw it down, it came alive. Warren pointed out that when Moses gave what was in his hand to God, it came alive and when he took it up again, it became lifeless. Warren then, as few modern preachers can, related the application to students trusting God with their life direction and committing their abilities to His plan.

The Anderson student body sat in rapt attention during Warren's sermon. After chapel Warren hugged, laughed and posed for dozens of pictures and gave scores of autographs. The warm feelings were mutual as an effusive Warren remarked during his visit.

"I loved hearing these students sing," he said. "One of the best ways to take the spiritual temperature of a campus is to listen to the students singing. I've been to Notre Dame and Baylor this week and I can tell you, the fire is here at Anderson."

Warren visited Anderson as part of the prestigious second annual Broaddus lectures in which he gave pastors from all over the region insights into his method of sermon preparation and how to create life-changing messages for congregations. Many of the pastors in attendance were in town for a weeklong seminar as part of the new Doctor of Ministry program at AU, which has attracted pastors from all over the Eastern half of the country.

Warren pleaded with pastors to make a commitment to preaching as effectively as possible. He was at his most energetic, however, in mixing with Anderson students whose vitality and spiritual commitment impressed him.

"These kids are incredible," he said after his campus worship message. "This campus is incredible. A large number of non-ministry students came out last night to hear me talk about sermon preparation! This place is spiritually alive."

Warren is founder and Senior Pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California, one of the ten largest churches in the U.S. His book, The Purpose Driven Life has sold more than 30 million copies, making it the best-selling hardback book (apart from the Bible) in American history. Time magazine named him one of the "15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004" and in 2005 one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." In 2005 U.S. News & World Report named him one of "America's 25 Best Leaders." His Pastors.com is one of the most widely used Christian websites by church leaders.

Anderson University is a selective comprehensive university offering bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees on campus and online. Anderson is ranked in the Top Tier of US News and World Report's America's Best Colleges and is on that publication's list of the 49 "Up & Coming" universities in America. It is also ranked as one of America's "100 Best College Buys."

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