Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, upon facing the possibility of disfellowship from the Southern Baptist Convention for ordaining women pastors against the denomination’s statement of faith, took the microphone at the annual meeting this year to give himself grand accolades, boast of his accomplishments, and plead with the messengers to allow him to remain.
Among those accolades was the claim that he has trained 1.1 million pastors during the course of his career. I would like to break down this claim to see exactly how credible it is.
Warren doubled down on this claim in a recent tweet, and explains exactly how he accomplished such a monstrous goal:
To be clear, let’s start with some numbers. According to various statistics, the total number of pastors, priests, and clergy from all denominations in the world right now including Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, and even cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and also includes female clergy in mainline Protestant denominations, according to statistics compiled by Gordon Conwell, is approximately 5 million. Of those five million, only 250,000 have any formal theological or pastoral training.
According to Wikipedia, there are 414,582 Roman Catholic priests worldwide according to the latest census. And other statistics show that there are roughly 101 thousand Southern Baptist pastors in the United States.
A consensus of various statistics show that the average length of time a pastor works is about 8-9 years. Let’s be conservative and say 8. That means, over the last 40 years that Rick Warren claims he’s been training pastors, there have been 5 sets of 8 years. So we’ll multiply the total number of pastors worldwide over the last 40 years by 5. That would be 25 million. If, according to Gordon Conwell’s statistics, roughly 5 percent of those have received any formal training, that would be 1.25 million pastors, of which Rick Warren claims he has trained 1.1 million.
This would mean that Rick Warren has trained 88 percent of all trained clergy of every denomination in the entire world over the last 40 years.