TODAY   |  July 28, 2013

Rick Warren gives first sermon since son’s suicide

One of America’s most influential religious leaders has returned to the pulpit for the first time since the suicide of his son shocked him and his millions of followers. NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports.

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>>> one of america's most influential religious leaders returned to the pulpit for the first time since his son's suicide. pastor rick warren told the congregation at his saddleback church -- with more here is nbc's mike taibbi .

>> reporter: to a wave of cheers, pastor rick warren in his trademark black t-shirt walked onto the stage with his wife kate for the first time in four months to deliver his weekly sermon. it was back in april when the warren's 27-year-old son matthew with unrelieved depression shot himself to death. the pastor spoke about the tragedy.

>> we went over to his house and we couldn't get in. we were thinking that which i feared most has happened.

>> he talked about matthew 's older siblings trying to help him through his illness.

>> amy and josh talked him off the ledge time after time , and they are really my heroes.

>> reporter: but rick warren 's status in any eyes, as his generation's billy graham , was built on his reputation as a teacher who made christianity's lessons a bestseller. beside him presidents and world leaders . when his son died, other religious leaders predict pd he would extract the lessons in his family's personal tragedy.

>> using this opportunity to recognize, hey, we can do the best we can do and still fail.

>> reporter: that's what warren set out to do.

>> i was kind of grieving, but i was also watching my own grief. as a teacher i was saying what am i experiencing and how can i share that with others.

>> reporter: one lesson that the tragedy of matthew 's suicide doesn't require someone to blame as kay warren explained.

>> my love was simply not enough to overcome the brick wall of mental illness .

>> reporter: the pastor went further.

>> all of matthew 's life, because of his mental illness , he struggled with questions. but i want to tell you this, he wasn't in heaven one second and all of his questions were answered.

>> reporter: a pastor whose teachings reached millions back at work. for "today," mike taibbi , nbc news,