BALTIMORE (RNS) Sharing how he has coped after his son’s suicide last year, megachurch pastor Rick Warren urged Southern Baptist pastors on Monday (June 9) to let their times of suffering be acts of ministry.

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren took part in a panel on religious liberty sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission immediately after speaking at the last session of the SBC’s Pastors’ Conference in Baltimore. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren took part in a panel on religious liberty sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission immediately after speaking at the last session of the SBC’s Pastors’ Conference in Baltimore. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks


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“Behind every publicly successful ministry, there is private pain,” Warren said at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference. “Pain is God’s megaphone. There is no testimony without a test. There is no message without a mess. There is no impact without criticism.”

Warren’s son, Matthew, 27, who suffered from mental illness, killed himself five days after Easter in 2013.

“If your brain doesn’t work right and you take a pill, why are you supposed to be ashamed of that?” Warren asked. “It’s just an organ, and we have to remove that stigma.”

Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, urged his fellow Southern Baptist pastors to draw close to others when they are suffering. He said a small group of men were on the scene within half an hour to comfort him when Matthew died. They were the same people he met with in their times of crises.

“The more intense the pain, the fewer words you should use,” he said. “You need to show up and shut up.”

As Warren closed his sermon, he knelt before the crowd and invited pastors to come forward for prayer if they were suffering with someone who is mentally ill or if they were facing other problems.

“Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt,” he said. “We mistakenly think that the world is impressed by how we handle prosperity, but the fact is the world is impressed by how we handle adversity.”

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10 Comments

  1. “Pain is God’s megaphone”

    Nonsense like this must be challenged.
    Isn’t God supposed to be ‘love’?

    Are we to love that which grants us pain?
    Religion is a mental illness.

      • @Frank,

        You have self-subjected yourself to be the servant of a woman-hating, totalitarian imaginary dictator named God who tells you that you “know nothing” and that “you are unworthy.”

        Your Dictator turned himself into his own son and had himself tortured and killed as a suicide to himself to save you from his condemnation but only if you really believe he did this for you.

        And he grants you eternal damnation for the slightest screw-up and denies you countless good times on earth in return for spending eternity with him – and you have NO EVIDENCE that he exists at all.

        And you feel sorry for…ME?

  2. How many gay people in Uganda have committed suicide to escape the homophobic culture Rick Warren and his fundie pals helped to create there? Rick Warren preaches about ending stigma yet continues to enable the suicides of LGBT people through his homophobic propaganda.

  3. As far as I’m concerned, Rick Warren now has credibility and I listen to him when he speaks because I know he gets it. I know he gets it because his siit hit the fan when his son killed himself – that’s not something a person can pretend and theorize through. I don’t take most preachers seriously because they are so strong on theory and dogmatic about it.

  4. Yet for someone who supposedly “gets it,” Rick Warren infamously compared being gay to having the urge to punch someone in the face. I don’t know about anyone else but that doesn’t sound particularly Christlike to me.

    • @Neon Genesis,

      “having the urge to punch someone in the face….doesn’t sound particularly Christlike to me.”

      Oh, it sounds very “Christ-like” to me.
      It is about time the term “Christ-like” be connected to what Christ really did!
      Instead of the few nice things he is claimed to have said.

      JESUS LIED. Isn’t lying a sin?

      “‘Go to the festival yourselves.
      I AM NOT GOING to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.’ After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, THEN HE ALSO WENT not publicly but as it were IN SECRET.” (John 7.8-10).

      JESUS COVETED HIS NEIGHBORS GOODS AND INSTRUCTED FOLLOWERS TO STEAL – Isn’t coveting and stealing a sin?
      “untie them” ..”bring them to me” (Matt. 21:2-3)

      TO SUPPORT A CON GAME
      “so that the prophecy can be fulfilled.” (Matt 21)

      JESUS DIDN’T FORGIVE – he sent them to Hell! (Mark 16:16)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS CURSED his enemies – “Thou Fools!” (Matt. 23:17)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS DESTROYED HIS ENEMIES WITH VENGEANCE –
      “bring to me my enemies….execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS DID NOT LOVE MOST OF HIS NEIGHBORS
      – They are ‘Dogs’! (Matthew 15:26)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS TOLD PEOPLE TO JUDGE OTHERS HARSHLY – “If you deem them unworthy…Remove your blessings of Peace”!(Matt 10:14)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS WAS BIGOTED – “They are swine” (Matthew 7:6)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS VIOLENTLY WHIPPED PEOPLE – “He made a whip of cords and attacked them” (John 2:5)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS CAME TO INCITE VIOLENCE – “I do not bring peace.”(Matt 10:34)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS PREPARED FOR WAR – “if you have money, buy a sword” (Luke 22:36-37)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS TOLD PEOPLE TO IGNORE THE LOVE OF PARENTS – “hate your mother and father…hate your very life” (Luke 14:26)
      Isn’t that a sin?

      JESUS TOLD PEOPLE TO KILL THEIR CHILDREN – doesn’t that sound like a sin?
      “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ (Matthew 15:3).

      JESUS INCITED VIOLENCE AND WAS IMPATIENT – “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!….and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I tell you, but CONFLICT.” – Jesus – (Luke 12:49-51)

      Is this not the sin of pride? Isn’t patience a Virtue?
      Isn’t destruction of “God’s Earth” not evil?

      “Christ-like” is a term for nightmares!

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