Rick Warren
Community Connections
You can tell what someone stands for by whom they affiliate with and what they have to say about certain people and their teachings. You can also tell what someone believes by those who endorse their message and method. We need to take a careful look at Rick Warren’s background, associations and comments, as well as others about him. This is somewhat lengthy and one needs to read through this whole article to understand what is at work here and what has formulated his model for doing church.

Rick Warren has doctorate degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Fuller endorses Warren on their website “Rick Warren, Fuller alumnus and pastor of Saddleback Church, is now publishing “Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox” (

Warren did his D.MIN. in 1993 under Peter Wagner at Fuller NEW CHURCHES FOR A NEW GENERATION: CHURCH PLANTING TO REACH BABY BOOMERS. A CASE STUDY: THE SADDLEBACK VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH (California). In it he wrote “We must establish new churches to reach this new generation of Americans. It will require new churches that understand the Baby Boom mindset and are intentionally designed to meet their needs, tastes, and interests.”

Ministry Advantage at Fuller features articles from various “Christian leaders” Warren is listed among others like Ted Haggard, Jack Hayford, Bill Hybels, Peter Wagner, John Wimber etc. (

All this means Fuller sees him as being in agreement with what these men and they are teaching. Peter Wagner who taught at Fuller optimized his vision of church growth with executing a new Church government, ie. new apostles and prophets laying a new foundation for today (ICA).

Peter Wagner, is the Founder and President of the American Society For Church Growth( ASCG).Rick Warren is a member of the American Society For Church Growth (ASCG) which is located at Fuller Theological Seminary. Saddleback Valley Community Church.
Rick Warren, Founding Pastor (ASCG member at large) is found alongside many names, including Global Harvest Ministries of C. Peter Wagner, Founder, President (the ASCG Founding President); The World Prayer Center C. Peter Wagner, Co-founder.

“Saddleback Community Church senior pastor Rick Warren is on Mission America's Facilitation Committee [  1997]. 

A person does not become part of a board unless they are in agreement with those people’s doctrines and philosophy of ministry that are part of the board.

Community Full Gospel Church has Satellite Seminars via live, interactive satellite broadcasts. This takes place with the Church Communications Network; Injoy; and Saddleback Church, Community Church is a host site for unique seminars and top speakers from around the country on a monthly basis.

For minimum cost and maximum convenience residents from the area can hear, learn and interact with speakers such as John Maxwell, Rick Warren, C. Peter Wagner, George Barna, Carl George and Ted Haggard. Seminar topics range from Marriage Secrets to Successful Leadership to Understanding the New Senior Adult. (

You will notice the same people seem to be congregated together, which means they are in agreement.

Warren commenting on John Wimbers death: “I will remember John Wimber as a man who truly loved Jesus more than anything else. I always enjoyed our conversations because that love for Christ produced an uncommon passion in his life that was contagious. I will miss that. A hundred years from today, people will still be singing “Spirit Song” because it verbalizes that deep love for Jesus.”

Its good to be respectful and encouraging when there is a loss like this, however, to be so flattering brings to question what he really believes about the Vineyard movement that launched the prophet and apostle movement and the Toronto disaster along with so many other aberrations. John Wimber’s connection with Peter Wagner is well established; Wagner is now in the saddle with the prophet apostle movement that begun with Wimber.

Warren does not have any qualms who he shares the platform with as long as he can give his message. I have no problem with people who use an opportunity to help correct those who are aberrant, I do think there is a problem when they keep silent and collaborate with them. Ones affiliation tells us a great deal about what they believe.

Warren was a key speaker at Yonggi Cho’s church growth conference in 1997. Cho is known to mix occult concepts with Christian teaching. He is especially known for his word faith /visualization techniques. Warren was also a key speaker at Schuller's Institute for Successful Church Leadership.

David Cho’s connection to Robert Schuller is evident. Robert Schuller writes in the foreword to Yonggi Cho's book, The Fourth Dimension: “I discovered the reality of that dynamic dimension in prayer that comes through visualizing.... Don't try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It's true. It works. I tried it.

Cho promoting mysticism is an understatement. He says if Buddhists and Yoga practitioners can accomplish their objectives through fourth dimensional powers, then Christians should be able to accomplish much more by using the same means. (Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension, vol. 1, 1979, pp.37, 41) “You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth... He is bound by your lips and by your words... Remember that Christ is depending upon you and your spoken word to release His presence.” (Ibid., 83)

In Warrens interview with Cho we can see his respect for him. --Warren: Do you think American churches should be more open to the prayer for miracles?
Cho: I feel that the most American churches really don't believe in the miracles of God. The church is getting very institutionalized. But I tell you that by a new anointing the American church would start to believe the miracle of the nation of God's hand.

Warren: Can you please pray a prayer of blessing to the pastors that are reading this? (Rick Warren And David Yonggi Cho Talk About Using The Internet by Tim Bednar July 25, 2003) (

Warren spoke at The Robert Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership with Wimber, Hybels and others. WIMBER, HYBELS SPEAK AT SCHULLER EVENT Listed faculty for, Jan.27-30,at Crystal Cathedral campus included: Schuller, John Wimber (Vineyard “signs and wonders” guru), Bill Hybels, Charles Blake (Church of God),Walt Kallestad, John Maxwell, and Rick Warren. Ken Medema was at piano (9/16 Christianity Today). Hybels, Wimber, and David Cho were 1994 speakers. Tony Campolo and Jack Hayford were listed as 1995 speakers. (

In 1997 “More than 80 gay and lesbian pastors and lay leaders from the Metropolitan Community Churches participated in this year's Robert Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership at Schuller's Crystal Cathedral. The speakers included Bill Hybels, John Maxwell and Rick Warren.” 

Warren will often make statements that can be questionable and even revealing. In a closing prayer at one of his seeker-sensitive church growth seminars, he declared, “Thank you that there is a movement, a stealth movement, that's flying beneath the radar, that's changing literally hundreds, even thousands of churches around the world.” ( 

He’s talking about the church growth movement that he is spearheading. I wonder whose radar it would be flying under and why it needs to do this to get to its destination? Well it’s in the open now.

Besides Robert Schuller Rick Warrens connection to management and market guru Peter Drucker has been the impetus for the new model of doing church. Warren says, “I read everything Peter Drucker writes. His book “The Effective Executive" is a favourite I re-read every year. Long before words like “empowerment” became popular, Peter was telling us that the secret of achieving results is to focus on your strengths, and the strengths of those you work with, rather than focusing on weaknesses. In fact, Peter says, making strengths productive is the unique purpose of organisation.
“… find out what others do well and help them to be able to do more of it. This is the key to effective businesses, effective churches, and every other effective organisation. Great organisations position people for success rather than trying to eliminate all their weaknesses. It's far easier to manage weaknesses than to eliminate all of them

Consider Warren's admission, that he is getting his influence, and inspiration from the world should be a red light for those who want to uphold and practice biblical truth. Empowerment is a word used by the new agers for self - authority. 

Herein lies the greatest flaw to this church model that is being implemented. It is unbiblical to focus on strengths and manage weaknesses. This becomes the main difference between how the Church is run and the world is run. Paul said when I’m weak I am strong (because of God's power used in a weak person).  (2 Cor.12:10). In fact if one cannot see their own bankruptcy their is no power of God available to them. Man's main weakness is Man relying on his own strength and natural abilities. Mans strengths are mans hindrances to God. God uses us beyond our capabilities that are inherent to the natural man.

Almost everyone in the Bible was used in their weakness not in their strength. Moses said he couldn’t speak, God said he would be with him. He was brought up in all the education of Egypt but God didn’t use him because of this. Peter was appointed to lead and feed the sheep though he was brash, weak in faith and denied the Lord three times.  Gideon’s army was whittled down from a mighty number to a smaller one. God's way is opposite of mans.1 Cor. 1:27 “God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” God uses the weak, the lesser to receive glory lest man thinks it is his own ability that made it happen. (even God given natural ability).  To manage weaknesses and let the strong shine is not how God works. Paul writes to the church to “comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1Thess. 5:14) This is the churches model, to honor the weaker, not only use the strong.

Drucker began teaching large corporations years ago and is famous being a visionary in management, marketing and communication skills. He believes that “The social universe has no “natural laws” as the physical sciences do. It is thus subject to continuous change” (Oct. 1998 issue of Forbes Magazine p. 154). If I understand him correctly this means no absolutes.

Christianity Today observed “Drucker is a Christian a practicing Episcopalian, but from his a writings it would be hard to say much more than this about his faith... Drucker’s writings seem to determined to keep his faith a secondary characteristic for his readers.” (Christianity Today)

In 1991 Drucker told an audience of church leaders that American churches are in the midst of a remarkable renaissance. “This, to my mind, for my lifetime, is the greatest, the most important, the most momentous event, and the turning point not just in churches but perhaps in the human spirit altogether.” (The Business of the Kingdom Management guru Peter Drucker thinks the future of America is in the hands of churches By Tim Stafford

Why does he say this? Because he says the church changing. These new methods have worked well for communities, governments and corporations, and now churches. Because of its success many are eagerly embracing Drucker's model of marketing through Warren to do church.

After giving a set of goals for the Church, (The mission, the value, Management, teamwork) Drucker says, The three most important questions are “What is our business?” “Who is our customer?” and  “What does the customer consider value?  (Important Lessons from Peter Drucker

Warren describes his church in many ways, one of them  is that “Saddleback is kind of the Research and Development department of the church at large. We're not afraid to fail. We've always tried more things that didn't work than did. Every once in a while we find - usually by accident-something that works. Then we teach the seminars and pretend like we planned it all along, when really it was just the result of trial and error. (Laughter) - Rick Warren,

This sounds like John Wimber’s experimental philosophy without the experiential. One has to take a step back and ask what are they doing? Is the Church supposed to be experimental? The reason experiments fail is because he is trying to implement a new way of doing things and it is not based on the sure word of God that will always work. Of course we don’t want to be so rigid that we have no flexibility in ministry but this is not what is being pursued. We should base our church on what is tried and true in the word. These are people’s lives and there is no room to experiment at their expense. People can be hurt as well as be helped. Once they find something works it is incorporated in the service. This is practicing pragmatism; advertising agencies use this concept for their products to see a positive reaction. When it is successful they begin it as a program and schedule it for the people coming in, everything goes like clockwork. Pragmatism does work but does it last and is it a work that God will accept? We need to honestly ask ourselves this question. A pragmatic approach may world well in the world, in business and even education but the church and our spiritual life is not to be ruled by this concept.

Warren’s affiliation with those in the new apostolic movement of Peter Wagner is evident by those he speaks with as well as their approval of what he is doing.

Cannistraci is co-pastor of Evangel Christian Fellowship, a new apostolic church in San Jose, California. He believes in the fivefold ministry for today and says in his interview with NEXT: “Of all the elements that comprise being apostolic, what’s the core, the nonnegotiable? Cannistraci: I would have to say intimacy with God because for me, all ministry springs from hearing God. Maybe the essence of being apostolic is getting out of the bunker and going for it...crossing a boundary to establish the Kingdom...not being content with where we are.” “ Bill Hybels and Rick Warren and all these guys...they’re all kind of like me, but they’re all quite different ...yet we’re all part of this big cutting edge that is the Church. It’s a movement of God...nobody’s going to be able to name it. It is what God is doing now and it’s so big that we can’t claim it

Notice that apostolic is based on hearing from God, which every believer can do through his word; but this is not what many mean in the new apostolic movement. What they mean is a fresh word of God for the direction of the church that is not in the Scripture.

Peter Wagner writes, “At New Life Church and Saddleback, the organization is pared to empower leaders. It is developed on the basis of trust in the grace of God at work through individuals that God calls to leadership. C. Peter Wagner notes that the most revolutionary principle in the churches that are driving the expansion of Christianity is the trust and empowerment of the individual. He puts it this way: Of all the radical elements of change in the New Apostolic Reformation, I regard one of them to be the most radical of all. It is so important that I have chosen these words very carefully: The amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to the individuals. (Wagner, Churchquake, 75.) (

Rick Warren's “Purpose Driven Church” book is on the supplemental reading list at Wagner Leadership Institute in Pastoral Ministries. A five-point strategy for attracting and spiritually maturing the unchurched, from the pastor of Saddleback Church ( 

Warren has also endorsed some things that are more than questionable but should be avoided.

Warren endorsed “An Unstopable Force” by Erwin Raphael Mcmanus “I love this book because Erwin loves the church. Growing churches requires growing leaders. This book will help you along the way.” Rick Warren Lead Pastor, Saddleback Church, Author, The Purpose Driven Church

On McManus’ web site ( Awakening an Apostolic Ethos with Erwin McManus, Lead Pastor, Mosaic, Los Angeles “McManus offers a vision of the church taking its rightful place as an unstoppable force created to change the world . . . a church that is active and engaged with its community An apostolic ethos is the key to a New Testament movement … To lead a church with movement requires the ability to create and shape ethos… Erwin declares, “When we awaken the apostolic ethos, the heart of God begins to pulsate through the church of Jesus Christ.”

Consider that ethos means culture, they are wanting to change the culture, something Jesus NEVER told us to do. He said his kingdom is not of this world. We are supposed to be preparing people for the kingdom in the next. (This book has a new apostolic and Dominionist view)

Rick Warren has also endorsed Alpha course as something that goes well with his seeker friendly model. Alpha course is an offshoot of the Toronto blessing. “It’s great to see how Alpha has been used to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ, who wouldn’t normally come to church. This resource is very complementary to helping seekers connect with The Purpose Driven Life” ( For more on alpha read

Warren also quotes in The Purpose Driven Life on p.103 Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Pathways. The subtitle is “Discover Your Soul’s Path to God.” Warren writes, “In his book, Sacred Pathways, Gary identifies nine of the ways people draw near to God: Naturalists are most inspired to love God out-of-doors, in natural settings. Sensates love God with their senses and appreciate beautiful worship services that involve their sight, taste, smell, and touch, not just their ears. Traditionalists draw closer to God through rituals, liturgies, symbols, and unchanging structures. Ascetics prefer to love God in solitude and simplicity. Activists love God through confronting evil, battling injustice, and working to make the world a better place. Caregivers love God by loving others and meeting their needs. Enthusiasts love God through celebrations. Contemplatives love through adoration. Intellectuals love God by studying with their minds” (Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas, pp. 22-29.)

In Gary’s book Sacred Pathways, He quotes Carl Jung favorably “Carl Jung developed four profiles to describe human nature…. Combinations of these four profiles can create sixteen different personality types, and the Myers Briggs test is designed to separate these types” (Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas, p. 21.) Psychologist Carl Jung is not a good source for any Christian to turn to as he received his information from a “spirit guide” named Philemon. During Jung’s traumatic breakdown, on the brink of suicide “Philemon” became his “spirit guide, Jung says “Philemon represented a force which was not myself … It was he who taught me psychic objectivity, the reality of the psyche.

In Sacred Pathways pp.184-5,6 Thomas where he suggests the use of “Dancing Prayer”, not bodily movements, but we are to image in our minds dancing with God and allowing Him to lead. Then He gives instructions on “Centering Prayer.” Quote: “Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing But centering prayer is a contemplative act in which you don't do anything; you're simply resting in the presence of God.

Clearly a mystical approach not  a Biblical one. This repeating words is what is called a mantra, it does not matter if one uses a Biblical name or word. We are not to be combining eastern mysticism with our practice of Christianity. Warren also mentions contemplative prayer in his book without defining it.

On his website “My wife, Kay, recommends this book! In it, Nouwen divides the life of ministry into five categories: teaching, preaching, pastoral care, organizing, and celebrating” Sabbatical Journey Creative Ministry (Doubleday, 1991).

Warrens endorsement of Nouwen’s book is concerning, as Nouwen unites other religions with Christianity. As Ray Youngen points out Nouwen's endorsement of a book by Hindu spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran, teaching mantra meditation, further illustrates his universalist views. On the back cover, Nouwen stated: “This book has helped me a great deal.”

Nouwen wrote “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God (Henri Nouwen's last book p.51 Sabbatical Journey Crossroad publishing Co., New York,1998 Quoted in a Time of Departing by Ray Youngen )

Clearly this is a universalist view promoting an interfaith message, which is becoming popular today.

“Nouwen also wrote the forward to a book that mixes Christianity with Hindu spirituality, “...the author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian .... Ryan [the author] went to India to learn from spiritual traditions other than his own. He brought home many treasures and offers them to us in the book.” (Thomas Ryan Disciplines for Christian Living, Paulist press, Mawah, N.J., 1993 pp.2-3 Quoted in a Time of Departing by Ray Youngen)

We can see how each connection influences another. Nouwen promoted “Thomas Merton was perhaps the greatest popularizer of interspirituality. He opened the door for Christians to explore other traditions, notably Taoism (Chinese witchcraft), Hinduism and Buddhism.” [Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions - Wayne Teasdale] Thomas Merton said he wanted “to become as good a Buddhist as I can” (Steindl-Rast, 1969).

Interfaith is the message. Merton wanted to see the religions of the world be in unity. Because of this influence Nouwen was able to say “a place for everyone in heaven” (Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved, p. 53).

With a book like Nouwen’s openly being promoted by Warren one can only wonder what other writers have influenced his church model and philosophy (Robert Schuller included).

Although not every book Warren quotes from is detrimental, yet Warren’s wide use of quotes from others books (mystics and Catholics) certainly lacks perspicacity. He quotes in The Purpose Driven life on p.108 a seemingly innocuous statement of Floyd McClung - who is involved with the 3rd wave Movement and now pastors Mike Bickle’s church (one of the prophets that was in the Vineyard under the Kansas city prophets -now is affiliated as a prophet with Peter Wagner’s Apostolic Movement).

He also quotes Mother Theresa. Without any mention of her being a Roman Catholic humanitarian. He quotes her on p.125 “Its not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” This is a false premise, many people put love into what they do and it could be false; what you do does matter. Mother Theresa was a wonderful humanitarian who could have represented any religion. She made people of other religions who were dying comfortable on their deathbed and had them to pray to their own gods. Mother Teresa said: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. ... What God is in your mind you must accept” (from Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, by Desmond Doig, p. 156). her false gospel said 'there are many ways to God': “All is God--Buddists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.” (12/4/89 Time, pp. 11,13)

This is not a good role model for representing Christian teaching, she did not believe there was any one faith acceptable to God, but many. Warren’s wide use of people he quotes shows a tremendous lack of discernment and definitely brings up a concern about what he really believes. In The Purpose Driven Life Appendix 3, p. 326 we find that Warren quotes from the Catholic Bible translation in the text of this book.

On p.193 (day 25) Warren quotes a neutral statement by Madame Guyon “It is the fire of suffering that brings forth the gold of godliness.” On his website he promotes the book “Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians” saying This is an anointed little book that reports on the deeper life experiences of Christians such as D.L. Moody, John Bunyan, Madame Guyon, John Wesley, and many others. While these other men are respected Guyon is not. Madame Guyon was a Roman Catholic mystic who lived during the 17th and 18th century that was a promoter of “quietism,” which involved becoming so passive that you become indifferent to everything. This was an extreme form of Roman Catholic mysticism that emphasized the cleansing of one’s inner life and included the belief that one could see Christ visibly.

Misinterpreting Jesus words in Luke 17:21 she began her lifelong journey within. She responded to the Lord, “Thou wast in my heart, and demanded only a simple turning of my mind inward, to make me perceive Thy presence. ... The kingdom of God is within you.”

Madame Guyon said that she had reached the point where she was no longer capable of sinning. She said that sin involves self, and she had become free of self. Therefore, she could no longer sin. ”

“she and La Combe could communicate for hours without words in some kind of strange telepathy. She asserted they could read each others hearts. (Guyon pp. 286-287) That her trance states, which left her unable to speak for days, were good and godly (pg. 281). That she had written under the direct inspiration of God, often not even being aware of what she was writing. She claimed to have found within herself, “latent treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (pp. 321-322). She said her writings were spirit-dictated (Ibid., pg. 324). Evelyn Underhill, herself a promoter of mysticism and myths, refers to Guyon as a “medium” exhibiting clairvoyance, prophecy, telepathy, and automatic writing in bewildering profusion. Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism, 1990, p. 295 (referenced from PFO in the Quarterly Journal article- THE MINDLESS MYSTICISM OF MADAME GUYON Countering the Myth of Intermittent Deification and Sinless Perfection by G. Richard Fisher)

Again there is little discretion who Warren promotes and quotes from, and there seems to be a reason for this, Warren’s openness is not just in books but found in the philosophy of ministry practiced in his own church. In a recent USA article that is posted on Warrens website it was reported “…Warren's pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women. “I'm not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won't try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?” (“This evangelist has a 'Purpose”, by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY, 7/21/2003) (

On page161 in the Purpose Driven Life Warren writes: “God wants unity, not uniformity. But for unity’s sake we must never let differences divide us.”

Some differences are divisive. Is unity more important than truth? This is the seeker friendly model at work, Schullerism shining through its convert Warren. Are not the differences we have with Mormons, Catholics and even Jews essential? Would the apostles be divisive on these differences or would they ignore then as Warren is practicing? This is nothing short than compromise, and a sad day for the Christian faith when someone who is supposed to be a well-known evangelical influence is allowed to do this. When the differences in our gospel and theirs are non - essential it is the end of the road for Biblical truth being proclaimed. If we don’t divide over these differences then there really is nothing else important to divide over and we have begun interfaith. The gospel and Jesus as the only way is divisive (Gal.1:6-9).

 So where is this unity Warren speaks of all headed?

Recently Warren has become one of the judges for the Power of Purpose essay contest put on with John Mark Templeton's website. Templeton is an evolutionist, a pantheist, auniversalist and has never been a friend to Christianity. He appeals to all faiths to have unity with common goals. Templeton's site is linked to other religions promoting interfaith cooperation.

A pastors conference took place on March 2004 where Warren attended, had Labyrinth walking, contemplative praying, and yoga. Labyrinth has much to do with new-age (Dr. Jean Houston). Contemplative (centering prayer) was a daily part of the convention. With Speaker Brennan Manning (a well known Christian Mystic who advocates New Age type “meditative prayer” ideas). Rick Warren quotes Manning in his book “The Purpose-Driven Life” and promotes his books. Manning uses the New Age mind-emptying method of meditation integrating various practices from psychology, inner healing techniques and Roman Catholic contemplative prayer techniques.

This is one step beyond ecumenical, it is going forward to interfaith. I would think anyone who is able to speak to Warren should have him reconsider his direction he is going and leading a good portion of the Church in.

 Inspiration from Schuller, Drucker and others cannot be thought of as good sources for ones spiritual development or for a Church. While people are eating up what is presented in Warrens book’s: The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, there is OBVIOUSLY much more to Warrens philosophy of ministry than meets the eye.


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