Rick Warren's Second Reformation
The first reformation of the church was about creeds. The next will be about deeds, says the purpose-driven pastor.
BY: Interview by David Kuo
What is your dream?
|Rick Warren on
a second reformation
I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs. This one is going to be about behavior. The first one was about creeds. This one is going to be about deeds. It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.
The reformation of deeds is part of a larger trend. Do you think fighting poverty and disease are trendy? Is this just the latest thing that's going around?
I don’t know if it is trendy or not. I just know that God is calling on my life, that three years ago when the book came out the three major things that happened were the success of the book and the affluence and influence that came with it. In one quarter it earned $9 million (in royalties) alone. So I’m going, "OK, God, I don’t need this money... What are you doing with this? I don’t need this. I’m a pastor." And I certainly don’t think God gives you money or fame for your own ego.
I went to scripture and God gave me two passages, 1 Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul is talking to pastors about money and their salary and he says, "Those that teach the Gospel should make a living by the Gospel." In other words, it is OK to pay your pastor. "But," he says, "I will not accept that right because I want the free rein to serve God for free so that I am a slave to no man." And when I read that, I said that is what I want to do. I want to serve God for free so that I am a slave to no man. So three years ago, [my wife] Kay and I made five decisions.
First, we decided we would not change our lifestyle one bit no matter how much money came in. So I still live in the same house I’ve lived in for 15 years and I still drive the same Ford truck, have the same two suits, I don’t have a guest home, I don’t have a yacht, I don’t own a beach house, we just said that we aren’t going to use the money on ourselves.
Second, I stopped taking a salary from the church.
Third, I added up all the church had paid me over the past 25 years and gave it all back. I gave it all back because I didn’t want anyone thinking that I did it for money. And I knew that God was raising me up to a position of prominence. I knew I was going to be under the spotlight and I wanted to live a life beyond reproach. So we gave it all back and the very next week it was either Time or Newsweek came and did an interview of me and the very first question they asked was, "What is your salary?" I was able to say honestly I’ve been able to serve my church free for 25 years. It felt so good to bust that stereotype.