CNLP 409: Rick Warren Opens Up About the Coming Tsunami of Grief, Handling Personal Tragedy, and How Saddleback Grew During the Pandemic

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Rick Warren opens up about the personal tragedy he’s experienced with the loss of his son, Matthew, the loss our culture has experienced and what he predicts will be a coming tsunami of grief as a result of everything people have been through.

Rick also explains how and why 2020 and 2021 have been the biggest and best years Saddleback has ever had and the opportunity the current moment presents to the church.

Note: Some of the details in this episode surrounding the death of Rick Warren’s son are deeply personal and listener discretion is advised with young audiences.

Welcome to Episode 409 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about how you know when it’s time to leave.


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Books by Rick Warren

The ChurchPulse Weekly Podcast

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

Choose Joy by Kay Warren

Pastors.com

7 Signs It’s Time to Leave by Carey Nieuwhof

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Insights From Rick

1. In America, Christians no longer get their primary identity from either Jesus or the church but, rather, through politics

The politicization of American Christians is a terrible problem. Rick points out, “If you know anything about church history, you know that every time the church has gotten in bed with government, it got pregnant. And it was a bad situation.”

Rick cautions pastors and churches against taking a partisan stance as a church. Just don’t do it.

2. If you’re afraid to talk about race in your church, start building trust with your congregation first

So many pastors have avoided the conversation about racism in America out of fear of the backlash that they will receive from the members of their church. It’s understandable, but Rick recommends you start by building trust with your people. Everything in leadership is built on trust, and if you have enough trust with those people, they will follow you into difficult spaces, even where they might initially disagree.

Once you build that trust, Rick recommends you start asking minorities to regularly share their stories of racism with your people.

3. Grief will be a huge door to evangelism over the next few years

Rick is convinced that we’re going to go through a tsunami of grief over the next couple of years.

Many people have lost many things—loved ones, the prom, their graduation, the birth of their first grandchild and many even missed important funerals. There’s so many things that people have lost that, when it finally catches up and they realize what they’ve lost, there will be a lot of grief.

This grief is going to be a front door for evangelism in the next few years, because so many people are dealing with this. As a pastor, you need to find a way to prepare your church to reach the grieving people around them.

Quotes from Episode 409

There is no success without growth. There is no growth without change. There is no change without loss. And there is no loss without pain. @RickWarren Click To Tweet Every time the church has gotten in bed with government, it got pregnant. And it was a bad situation. @RickWarren Click To Tweet Racism is a discipleship issue. Financial overspending is a discipleship issue. Political stereotyping bias is a discipleship issue. @RickWarren Click To Tweet In God's garden of grace, even broken trees bear fruit. @RickWarren Click To Tweet Sometimes getting up and putting one foot in front of the other is a successful day for a pastor. @RickWarren Click To Tweet Ministry is received not achieved. @RickWarren Click To Tweet Before you can give people the truth, you've got to show them that you love them. @RickWarren Click To Tweet All leadership is built on trust. If people don't trust you, they're not going to follow you. @RickWarren Click To Tweet You don't change people by laws. There's no law that's going to turn a bigot, a racist into a lover. @RickWarren Click To Tweet Many Christians started putting their faith in government to change society rather than the church. @RickWarren Click To Tweet You refill your cup by connecting with people you love. @RickWarren Click To Tweet You need to start treating yourself the way God does. @RickWarren Click To Tweet Routine develops resilience, and predictability creates stability. @RickWarren Click To Tweet The church has survived every dictator, every war, every pandemic. @RickWarren Click To Tweet We have to really remember that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that we are to be peacemakers. @RickWarren Click To Tweet A passionless leader is an ineffective leader. Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 409

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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Next Episode: John Ramstead

John Ramstead shares leadership skills drawn from flight school and from the cockpit of F-14A Tomcat fighter jet and shares principles that apply to all crisis leadership. After suffering three life-altering injuries, John also talks about how to be resilient in the face of suffering and setbacks.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.