Rick Warren is an evangelical leader, best-selling author, and founding and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with his wife, Kay, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a single family to fill the pews. Today the church has a 120-acre campus, 22,000 weekly attendees, and has provided spiritual guidance and source material to over 400,000 ministers worldwide.
He also leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. More than 400,000 ministers and priests have been trained worldwide, and almost 157,000 church leaders subscribe to the Ministry ToolBox, his weekly newsletter. His previous book, The Purpose Driven Church is listed in “100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.” Forbes magazine called it "the best book on entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in print.”
Warren received his BA from California Baptist College, his MA from the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry from the Fuller Theological Seminary. Warren has recently taken on several issues previously ignore by the evangelical community; he is the most prominent signatory of the "Evangelical Climate Initiative," and is the co-founder and co-director (with his wife) of The Global PEACE Fund, which fights poverty, disease, and illiteracy. Warren has spoken at the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Question: What does Africa need?
Rick Warren: Africa needs a hand up, not a hand out. The biggest thing Africa needs is good leadership. That’s why part of the Peace Plan of promoting reconciliation, equipping leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, educating the next generation – you have to have a comprehensive approach to tackle all five of these – what I call the global Goliaths – the global giants of spiritual emptiness, corruption, poverty, disease and illiteracy.
These are the five biggest problems on the planet that affect billions of people. I call them the global Goliaths. There are a lot of problems that affect millions of people, but these affect billions.
And the first problem is spiritual emptiness. Billions of people feel spiritually empty. They say, “I don’t know what I’m here for. I don’t know if there is a purpose for my life. I don’t have a relationship with God.” And I think that’s one of the reasons why “Purpose Driven Life” became one of the bestselling books in history next to the Bible. It’s not a niche book. It’s a question that everybody eventually asks – “What on earth am I here for?” You put your head down on the bed, and you go, “Why am I here?”
And then corruption. Corruption is rampant all around the world, but particularly in Third World or in developing world countries. And corruption is at a business level. It’s at government level. It’s at an academic level. It’s at the church level. It’s penetrated through society.
And having been around the world many, many times, you can go anywhere and people are going to ask you for a bribe. And you just have to say, “We don’t do that.”
And in the last 50 years – I’m guessing this – maybe the west has put $1.5 trillion dollars in aid into Africa, and the countries in Africa are actually worse off. Their standard of living is worse off than it was 50 years ago. It’s like a sinkhole. Why? Because people were skimming it off and putting it in Swiss bank accounts. And you have these government leaders – the Idi Amin stronghold types – that are just . . . don’t care about their people. They’re not servant leaders. And so we have to teach them good leadership, good governance, at the same time teaching them self-reliance.
While America was pouring trillions of dollars, or the West was pouring trillions of dollars into Africa, we gave almost no money to China, if any. And look at the economy there. I mean it’s exploding, exploding.
If money could solve poverty, we would have no poverty in America because we’ve spent trillions of dollars on government programs. This is where people have a hard time pegging me on which side am I on. Because I have the heart of a liberal, and then I’m compassionate. And I care about the poor, and the sick, and the injustice, and racial equality, and economic equality. I just happen to disagree with liberals in that the solution is not the government. If bigger government was the answer to these problems, we would have solved them by now. We’ve put trillions of dollars into government programs, into housing projects that are now laying in waste, things like that. You have to change the heart.
Recorded on: December 11, 2007