Saddleback Church Celebrates 35 Years
Saddleback Church celebrated its 35th anniversary on Saturday with a special service for an estimated 18,000 people at Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California.
The first Saddleback church, planted by Rick and Kay Warren in Lake Forest, California with just over 60 people at its first gathering, now has more than 36,000 members. The church has 10 campuses in southern California, and another four daughter churches internationally.
Speaking from the pitcher's mound on Saturday, Rick Warren reflected on the past.
He quoted his first sermon in 1980, and said: "We will succeed because we will dare to dream great dreams for God." and looked to the future.
Speaking on 'daring faith', he encouraged the church to follow the dreams God has for their lives. "I want your life to be an embarrassment to the devil," he said.
"Whatever God asks you to do, do it... because God does not sponsor flops," he added.
The record over the past 35 years is impressive – both the size of the chuch and the ministries they have established. The church has about 40,000 people attending 8,200 small groups – more than the 26,000 people who regularly attend on a Sunday.
They have established numerous ministries in addiction recovery and raising awareness about mental health. The church says they have baptised almost 41,000 people since they began their ministry. Internationally, the 'Peace plan' is the church's ambitious campaign to combat the world's biggest problems including poverty, disease and illiteracy. Saddleback has also sent representatives to every country of the world, and says it will continue working until every person in the world has had the chance to hear the gospel.
"God has not finished with our church," Warren told the crowd. "All of our best dreams, and all of our best days, are yet to come."
He said the church would be launching a 'daring faith' campaign in the coming weeks to teach the church to dream great dreams for God.
"Let the size of your God determine the size of your goal," he said, in a foretaste of the big aspirations to come.