Torkelson: Purpose parties help point way [Excerpts]
March 13, 2006
Cocktail napkins . . . coffee, soda and flavored tea close by . . . and copies of a slim, poetry-size book placed invitingly around the room, like a party favor. Looks like a party.
"If I ask you - 'Who are you?' - what would you say?" Linda Graber threw the challenge to the half-dozen women seated around the table. The stories that came back were threaded with good and bad: tales of miscarriages and missed chances, as well as long, good marriages and a new yearning to bring fresh purpose and passion to life.
Graber is co-host, along with Terri Baxter, of the first Purpose Party held in Colorado -- for that matter, among the first held anywhere.
If Purpose Parties sound familiar, it's because they are one degree of separation from Rick Warren's "The Purpose-Driven Life," which has sold more than 22 million copies since 2002. Publishers Weekly calls it "the best-selling hardcover nonfiction book in publishing history."
Among the book's admirers was Warren's research assistant, Katie Brazelton. With her boss' blessing, Brazelton kicked the "Purpose" franchise up a notch by writing Pathway to Purpose and gearing it to women.
Her twist: supplement the book with "Life Purpose Coaching" - a Christian take on the "life coach" idea in which a trained professional helps with everything from career to home organization. In this case, individual coaching runs between $50 and $125 an hour. In group settings they're called Purpose Parties.
"They're like hosting a Tupperware party," Graber says. "We're sharing a process."
The process, using scripture, Christian principles and Brazelton's book, "helps you discover God's purposes for your life and connect them to your passions," according to her Web site. One of her first fans was Graber, a 57-year-old pastor's wife who buttonholes her listeners with a cozy, mile-a-minute story-telling style wrapped in an Oklahoma drawl. Impressed with the book, she zapped out an e-mail to Brazelton's Web site. Lo and behold:
"Oh my gosh, I got a reply from Katie Brazelton herself!" she tells the group.
With winsome candor, Graber shares her own next purpose in life: "I want a house in the mountains and a coaching center where people will pay to come to me."
With 60 Life Purpose coaches scattered throughout several countries, Graber's pastor/husband Eddie also wants some credit for furthering the idea, especially if it ends up with a Colorado address.
"He needles me that if I get rich and famous, he wants everybody to know he bought Katie's book for me."