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Lake Forest megachurch calls on followers to donate almost $1 million in 48 hours

Pastor Rick Warren, the Orange County evangelist who generated controversy for giving the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration, has called on followers to donate nearly $1 million in the next two days to make up for a shortfall in donations.

Late Wednesday night, Warren posted a letter on his Saddleback Church website telling congregants that Christmas offerings were far less than anticipated.

“This is an urgent letter unlike any I've written in 30 years,” Warren wrote. “On the last weekend of 2009, our total offerings were less than half of what we normally receive -- leaving us $900,000 in the red for the year, unless you help make up the difference today and tomorrow.”

A spokesman for the Lake Forest church said Saddleback provides many charity services each year, based on what it anticipates in donations. Because of the struggling economy, Christmas time donations are down, while demand for services like food pantries is up.

“Basically, the church is having to do more with less,” said A. Larry Ross. According to the website, 10% of the "church family" is out of work. 

Ross said it was still unclear what the potential consequences of the shortfall would be.

It was almost a year ago that Warren chose to deliver the invocation at Obama's inauguration. The choice generated protests from civil rights groups that were angered by Warren's support of Proposition 8, the California measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state.

-- Monte Morin

Comments () | Archives (48)

This guy has sold millions of books. One book alone sold 30 million copies. And he's got the stones to post a message like that?

Please bear in mind that Rick Warren does not draw a salary from Saddleback Church. Please also bear in mind that Pastor Warren contributes 90% of the proceeds from sales of his books to the church - living on 10% of his income instead of giving 10% of his income.

I would suggest Tim follow the same path if he wishes to post a message like that.

Tim, this guy donates 90% of his earnings to the ministry, which is the bulk of his ministry efforts, it is common knowledge that all churches in general, except the LDS church, functions off of the generosity of about 10% of its members, 3% does most of the volunteering.

It cost money to feed and clothe the needy, our government can't do it, or wont do it because we are spread too thin, so churches have to step up to help people. And, it is a great thing.

I thought God took care of things like that. Maybe they're not praying hard enough.

For one our pastor always says that "where God guides He will provide. There are so many charities and organizations that are not getting their normal contributions because of the economy. They need to trust in God because He is in control of all things. The money you make is His, the Car you drive is His, they are all His. They are all blessing from God. And to those who say they don't want to give at church or that all churches and pastors will rip you off. God knows who gives and who doesn't, thats all that matters because we will all be held accountable for how we spent his money here on earth. And those who rip off Gods money will be held accountable for their actions.

If Warren only takes 10% of his church's annual donations, he's still earning nearly a $100K every month from church revenue alone. So Tim does make a fine point: Warren, who takes a million+ dollars from his congregation annually is requesting ANOTHER million dollars from families who generally get by on less than $60K a year.

The numbers really are rather disproportionate.

If god is in control of all things, Carlos, why did she create this shortfall in contributions in the first place? People are suffering. This is a very cruel god indeed.

What is it with Pastors nowadays? dont they know Jehova' Yireh The provider? i dont see anything wrong asking people to give but they give the impression that they depend on people instead of calling upon the name of the Lord for He who calls upon the name of the Lord will be Saved!! saved from every adversity even in finances.Gods nature is evergiving He gave His only Son,gives us life,health,its just His nature of giving, I have come that you may have life to those that are death,and have it more abundantly to those that already have life!

As Rachel said, maybe they should be praying harder!

Scale back costs. Open up a church at the strip mall, in between a donut shop and a nail parlor.

The Pig wants your money. Give it to him!!!!


Perhaps you might want to check into this man's net worth, despite what his claims are about how "much" he gives back.

This guy is a master marketer and manipulator. Wake up people. Wake up.

Maybe if they hadn't given money to YES ON 8, Warren wouldn't have to ask for money.

Michale, he donates 90% of the profit from the sale of books he himself has written. He does NOT take 10% of the congregation's donations as you said.

If he kept the proceeds from the sale of his books, he would be a multimillionaire.

Rachael, your hateful comments are truly saddening. It's too bad that some people like you take comfort in the suffering of other people. That's truly very sad. Saddleback being $900K short means that that's $900K less for the needy. Churches provide much of the gap in services that the government does not provide.

How many atheist groups provide any community service? How many atheists donate even a penny to help the poor? All I hear about from atheists is hate. The only time they have joy is in the suffering of Christians. What a horrible way to live a life.

This is one of the few pastors in the US who actually practices what he preaches. Saddleback is a vital part of the local and global community. The economy is hurting everyone and causing this church to give even more than it has received. Don't just read the jaded coverage that the media provides. Go to the churches website and read the entire statement that was posted. Read what the church is doing for the community. The media coverage has been very slanted to the point of saying--"ha, ha, big megachurch with famous pastor has its hand out for more money." This is really not the case.

I am proud to be part of this church, that is working with other churches around the world to improve this world, rather than sit around and complain. Pastor Warren does his work at the church for $0.00. That's FREE. He does not take 10% from the congregation. He lives on 10% of his book sales and donates the other 90% to local and global causes.
Sure he might have sold a lot of books, but why don't you ask athletes, entertainers and business employees, what percent of their income they donate to the church or any organization. Everyone needs to stop worring about ME and start thinking about WE. Who will be with you when you are out of work, sick in the hospital, or just in need of a friend? I will pray for you and my church family. God Bless.

"Basically, the church is having to do more with less,”

Um, because its congregants are in the same boat? How appalling to write such a letter.

To those who know Rick and Kay Warren and the good works they have done for the church and the world, nothing they do is without purpose. They work tirelessly to help others and their ministry has changed countless lives around the world. They do not live an extravagant lifestyle and donate 90% of their income back to the church. They are humble people and realize how blessed they are. They serve--they do not take. For the leader of the church to ask the congregation to donate more to make up the difference in a shortfall against their budget is not unusual at all, and Saddleback is no different. The congregation must stand on its own and support the initiatives they undertake. Expecting one person to take care of these types of shortfalls is ridiculous on any level, regardless if that person can write a check to cover the shortfall. This is a community of believers and will find a way to fill in the gap. And for those who recommend praying harder, the Christian community agrees with you wholeheartedly and we accept your prayers! For those who are bomb-throwers, in your own quiet moments, you might check to see how your contributions in life are leaving this world a better place -- after all, it's not all about you.... Peace.

Ps - For Michael's post at 9:41am, you are confused and do not have your facts straight:

1. Rick Warren does not take 10% of the churches donations - he takes no salary from the church.

2. Rick donates 90% of his personal income derived from outside of the church (his book sales, etc.) and keeps only 10% of what he has earned outside of the church (this is the opposite of normal tithing that would have you keep 90% of your income and give 10% to the church, etc).

3. Rick paid back Saddleback Church 100% of his entire income earned as the Pastor of the church since he founded it in 1980.

He has been blessed in many ways and continues to give back the majority of what he has earned. What a great example of giving heart. Funny tho how we think of Buffett and Gates as extraordinary for their philanthropy, but when a Pastor does the same thing there must be something wrong with it... Go figure.

Salary aside, why does a church need this much money to run? Churches in general request too much of people that are needy. Instead, they should be the mediators that drive donations to particular institutes. Churches should not handle money.

Preach enough disgusting hatred and it'll come back to bite you. I'm thrilled at this news and sad for whoever gets scammed into donating.

He could stand to miss a few meals.

maybe he should pray hard...oh wait, someone already said that

Maybe Rick Warren should ask Palin for help. Let Warren's followers, and Obama help him. Warren is getting money or he would not be doing if he was not. Warren isn't any difference from any other minister.Tke a good look at Rev. Price.

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