052 | Rick Warren Gets Candid About Leading Through COVID and Political and Racial Divisions, Part 1 of 2
March 18, 2021
In a year like no other, many leaders have wondered how the church should be responding to a world in crisis.
Recently on ChurchPulse Weekly, hosts Carey Nieuwhof and David Kinnaman sit down with Saddleback pastor and best-selling author, Rick Warren, to talk about his experience seeking truth in a polarized world, leading through COVID and understanding how to walk through grief both personally and alongside others.
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Seeking Truth & Reconciliation in a Polarized Society
During Kinnaman and Nieuwhof’s conversation with Warren, Barna Group President Kinnaman shares that three out of four protestant leaders (73%) report being concerned about Christian nationalism in our nation right now. This statistic raises many questions about how leaders should consider discipling their churches amidst increasing political polarization and difficult conversations on race and racial injustice.
As a church leader, Warren has learned the power of sharing stories to build empathy across political and racial lines. In the decisions that Warren is making (whether that be about reopening Saddleback or how his ministry should engage in conversations about race), he is always considering how he as a pastor can best protect his congregation physically, emotionally and spiritually.
In addressing racial issues, Warren adds, “I believe the answer to racism is storytelling. When you hear people’s stories, it changes you.” After the killing of George Floyd, Warren created space for his staff and other church members to process together over Zoom, listening openly to stories of pain and discrimination that his congregants wanted to share.
This level of vulnerability would not have been possible had Warren not first cultivated a foundation of trust and deep pastoral with his team and his people. He says, “You can’t speak the truth until you have trust. Before you can give people the truth, you have to show them that you love them.” Warren sees this principle around truth as a key guide in his leadership, whether he’s engaging with the truth of what’s happening in people’s lives or the Truth of the gospel.
About the Research
COVID-19 Pastor Survey data: Barna Group conducted this online survey among 412 Protestant Senior Pastors from January 22-27, 2021. Participants are all members of Barna Group’s Church Panel. Minimal weighting has been used to ensure the sample is representative based on denomination, region and church size.
Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.
© Barna Group, 2021