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


By Carey Nieuwhof: 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 podcast. Listen 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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Barna Cities – with Barna Group and Gloo

I know many church leaders, like you, are navigating massive shifts in culture and technology. It’s exhausting, but there’s hope.

Our friends at Barna and Gloo have been working hard to support pastors and church leaders like you.

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Conversation Links

Books by Rick Warren

The ChurchPulse Weekly Podcast

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

Choose Joy by Kay Warren


7 Signs It’s Time to Leave by Carey Nieuwhof

Carey’s Daily Email

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

Every time the church has gotten in bed with government, it got pregnant. And it was a bad situation. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

Racism is a discipleship issue. Financial overspending is a discipleship issue. Political stereotyping bias is a discipleship issue. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

In God’s garden of grace, even broken trees bear fruit. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

Sometimes getting up and putting one foot in front of the other is a successful day for a pastor. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

Ministry is received not achieved. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

Before you can give people the truth, you’ve got to show them that you love them. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

All leadership is built on trust. If people don’t trust you, they’re not going to follow you. @RickWarrenClick 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. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

Many Christians started putting their faith in government to change society rather than the church. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

You refill your cup by connecting with people you love. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

You need to start treating yourself the way God does. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

Routine develops resilience, and predictability creates stability. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

The church has survived every dictator, every war, every pandemic. @RickWarrenClick To Tweet

We have to really remember that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that we are to be peacemakers. @RickWarrenClick 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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If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, my book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

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Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

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“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming 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.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 410.

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

The post CNLP 409: Rick Warren Opens Up About the Coming Tsunami of Grief, Handling Personal Tragedy, and How Saddleback Grew During the Pandemic appeared first on CareyNieuwhof.com.

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