Rick Warren Preaches First Sermon Since Son's Suicide

Thousands attended Rick Warren’s first sermon in nearly four months at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Ca., this past weekend, in which Warren promised to end the stigma of mental illness in the church. To a standing ovation, Warren and his wife Kay walked onstage together hand-in-hand and teary-eyed before Warren began his sermon, first thanking his staff, supporters and his two other children, Josh and Amy.

Warren told the story of his youngest son Matthew’s suicide on April 5 and for the first time talked about how he discovered his son had died. He also gave spiritual reassurance to those who struggle with mental illnesses.

“If you struggle with a broken brain, you should be no more ashamed than someone with a broken arm,” he told the crowd. “It’s not a sin to take meds. It’s not a sin to get help. You don’t need to be ashamed.”

Time magazine reported that Warren told his congregation about Saddleback’s next big ministry push: to remove the stigma associated with mental illness in the church. “Your illness is not your identity, your chemistry is not your character,” he told people struggling with mental illness. To their families, he said, “We are here for you, and we are in this together.” There is hope for the future: “God wants to take your greatest loss and turn it into your greatest life message.”

As the service closed, the worship team sang “Blessed Be Your Name” as Warren lifted his Bible high above his head and sang: “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.”

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