How Rick Warren changed my opinion of Rick Warren

I have read and heard about Rick Warren as much as most of you have. I have read the Purpose Drive Life, The Purpose Driven Church, done The 40 Days of Purpose, see Celebrate Recovery, I have Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods and we use the 101-401 material. I am familiar with Rick Warren, and I had my opinions about him. I read all about the PEACE plan, I even met his Director for International Initiatives in Seminary. He was working to eradicate malaria in Rwanda. How’d you like to have that on your resume.

In all this, I heard the critics and I agreed with some of what they said. I’m not going to go into all the stuff, you have heard most of it, and you have no doubt formed your own opinion of the man.

My opinion changed when I heard him speak. When I heard him talk about where his heart is, what he has been doing. My opinion really changed when I talked with him. I changed even more when I saw him in a restaurant in the airport later that day. I won’t tell you the whole conversation, but it has made me a fan of Rick Warren.

Pastor Warren invests in people.  He invested in church planters both here and overseas.  He invests in young guys and in leaders.  This really struck me as he took time to listen to me, and when I saw him unexpectedly again, he remembered me and where I was from.  He took time to talk, to listen and to care.

You can discuss his programs and you can argue about reports of what he has been up too, what you think about his theology and the like.  I just know that after meeting the man, the short time I spent in conversation and hearing him share his heart, I have changed my view.  I was impressed with Pastor Rick Warren, and while Iwas once suspicious and concerned with what I have been hearing, that has been put to rest.


  1. Frank L. says

    My wife met Rick many years before he was a classmate of mine (though he never knew it) a few years ahead of me in college. I, too, have my opinions about his methods and such. I’m not interested in getting on any bandwagon for or against him.

    Your post did bring something to mind, however. Most men I know are much better than there ministries when you get right down to their hearts.

    That’s why blogging is such an easy place to tear men down–all we have are pixels on an electronic page.

    I feel sorry for Brother Rick in many ways. The Bible says, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Success is it’s on burden. Whether I am a great fan of his approach to life and ministry really doesn’t matter. He won’t be standing before me at the judgment.

    Another interesting thought came to mind: even if everyone of us has the scope of ministry that Rick has, sin would not be eradicated in the world — maybe malaria — but sin is a foe that requires everyone of God’s soldiers keep fighting however insignificant one’s particular battle may seem.

    • Dave Miller says

      Frank, I agree to a point.

      On the other hand, just because he has had some success does not necessarily justify everything he believes or does. I think you would agree, but I think it is important to attach that caveat.

      Numerical success is not inherently a sign of God’s blessing.

      • Frank L. says

        Agree 110%. Rick has said this many times he uses his dad as just such an example

        Just like many rock bands I enjoy the earlier stuff much better.

  2. Greg Buchanan says

    Dan – That’s cool!!! I saw the pic and was going to ask about meeting him. It is nice to know that the hype (good and bad) isn’t always accurate.

  3. bill says

    The problem with the Purpose Driven Movement when it was implemented in various churches is that they tried to emulate Saddleback rather than take the advice coming out of Saddleback which was to find what works in all that we’re giving you and use that.

    Many churches were trying emulate rather than use ideas and techniques that could work in their churches and communities.

    Besides, everything that works in big city California is probably not going to translate well in midcity Texas or smallcity Tennessee. Unfortunately, people became enamored with Saddleback’s growth and thought they could capture that lightning in a smaller bottle.

    Thus we had issues…

    • Greg Buchanan says

      How much of that problem should be laid at the feet of Rick Warren and how much of it is a manifestation of the green-eyed-monster of various deacons, pastors, and committee chairpersons who thought: “if we were as successful ($$$), as big ($$$), as wealthy ($$$) as Saddleback, we could make a difference too?

      The latter source is the true one. Most people looked with jealousy at Saddleback and wanted that success in a worldly fashion (to keep up with the Joneses). Success in God’s kingdom though is this: to obey is better than sacrifice.” IF obedience means the local congregation is small and stays small and can’t give 1mil to the CP or send it’s own missionaries to Rwanda or have multiple buildings, does that mean it is not successful?

      That I believe is the real problem is looking at size and counting it as success. Success is obedience… how can that be quantified by the number of bldgs or size of giving or number of staff?

      I agree that the books had great uses if churches would try to find how the principle can be applied to their own location rather than try to be come Saddleback – Phoenix or Saddleback-Podunk.

  4. says

    I was also impressed that I told him I wrote a book (I have several) that I have never published. He wanted me to sign a copy and send it too him so he could have it in his library. Most of us have Rick in our library, but the fact he wants a young associate pastor in his library, that made me step back a bit.

  5. Frank L. says

    Mark, I get that same feeling when I see things like this.

    This type of ambiguity seems to increase when someone has some degree of success in one area and we make him and expert in other areas.

    Sort of like a rock star or movie star becoming and expert on global issues.

  6. says

    Dan, would you please be more specific. What was your view prior to meeting Warren and what was it based on?

    The criticism that I am most familiar and holds the most weight, IMO, is doctrinal which is either direct or associational. For example, see the word-faith book I referenced above. There are numerous people who are nice and help people, etc., but this doesn’t excuse their doctrine. But I may be confused about what you’re saying.