Besides shepherding his own flock, the Saddleback leader reaches out to other ministers. On his "Pastors.com" Web site Warren offers an e-mail newsletter, "Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox." His e-mail ministry tips reach some 83,000 church leaders weekly. "I love to pastor pastors," he said.

In the second half of the 1990s, Warren took on the IRS when he saw a chance to impact the lives of his fellow pastors across the country. Like many other clergy, Warren had claimed a housing deduction under a parsonage allowance that gives ministers a tax break on their homes. After auditing several of the pastor's returns, the IRS assessed Warren's home at what he insists was well below its actual value, ruling that he had excluded too much money from his taxable income.

Believing the tax law unclear and that he was not the only one to suffer from its vagueness, Warren mounted legal challenges and won. Later, when the government appealed, the appeals court challenged the constitutionality of the parsonage allowance itself. But after President Bush signed the Clergy Housing Allowance Clarification Act into law in May 2002, the appeal was dismissed.

For Warren, the fight wasn't about money. "I'm going to take this to court on behalf of every pastor in America," he said. "I was doing this for the other people."

Even with the national prominence, the Saddleback pastor insists his love is the local church and his goal is not fame, but positive spiritual influence.

"I'm still dealing with the day-to-day things that pastors go through," Warren said. "I'm not a bureaucrat ... I'm a spiritual entrepreneur."

©2003 Religion News Service