Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rick Warren: Self Promoter?

Having read the most recent article from Rick Warren in his Ministry Toolbox, I’m really confused.

I know I’m not the most tech-savvy guy in the universe, but I’ve learned to navigate around a bit, especially in search of free stuff. So, either I’ve still got a lot to learn about web stuff or the article is a bit fantastical.

Warren’s article is unusually rambled. It has a tinge of his personal insights and encounters (which are usually quite helpful); a dash of a philosophical discussion over using other pastor’s sermons; and a generous heaping of self-promotion.

Warren tells the story of encountering a pastor in Johannesburg, South Africa. This pastor journeys down to the local post office every week (the only place internet service is available) to download free (that’s FREE) sermons from Rick Warren. "Pastor Rick, you are the only training I’ve ever had” the pastor says.

Hey, while I can afford a few books and commentaries, I’m not opposed to “FREE” at all. Especially when I’m not overly fond of the sermonic approach of a certain pastor, in this case Rick Warren. But when I clicked on the link for sermons, I was directed to a page where I had to do some more clicking. The #1 sermon (of the top 10) was entitled “How to Tell God You Love Him.” I clicked it and was directed to another page that showed the message was a part of a series entitled “Essentials for 21st Century Living” and showed I could download the PowerPoint slides and transcripts for $72.00.

Recoiling from sticker shock, my bargain hunting eye caught the “free sermons” tab on the left-hand menu bar and my mouse moved faster than Jerry ever did when evading Tom. When my browser opened the page I found them. Five free sermons in all. Two were from America’s 9/11 terrorist attack (that was in 2001); two were from Mel Gibson’s Passion movie (that was Spring 2004) and one was from Hurricane Katrina.

And that’s why I’m wondering whether my internet surfing skills have become bereft of adequacy. Did I miss the mother load of the “free sermons” posting somewhere else on the site? Is the “free” page updated every week and I’m just not catching it? The page states “we’ll update periodically with new sermons…” That usually means it doesn’t happen too often. So is this Johannesburg pastor preaching the same sermons over and over? Is he satisfied with such a low level of “training”?

I’m sorry, but I’m skeptical. I can't imagine a pastor walking an hour and a half away to download 5 free sermons. The article seems like a pretty blathered story to me, constructed to promote a site that is more about selling sermons than providing them for free. I hope I'm missing a key part in understanding this story.

I get some benefit from Rick Warren and his resource. He’s a creative thinker and offers many great perspectives on leadership and church life. I know there’s a swirl about several issues involving him. I just pray about it. That always seems so orthodoxally trite, but I want this guy to succeed not fail. That’s why I’m so bothered by this article. It seems to reinforce the assertion that Pastor Rick is heading down the wrong path.


Jim Shaver said...

The Cost of Living is very high on the west coast!

I've notice that about Warren's stuff as well.

It's almost as pricey as Lifeway!

T A Blankenship said...

I appreciate your comments concerning Warren. Do you suppose he might be, as I heard growing up, "Getting too big for his britches"?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all of your stuff so maybe i've missed your finding thre reason for the price tag, but just in case. Rick Warren talks alot about the fact that he charges people living in North America for his stuff so that he can provide it for free for pastors in places like Africa. Be careful that you know the facts before you start to draw conclusions.