When Rick and Kay Warren first arrived in the Saddleback Valley in December of 1979, all they had was what they could fit in the back of a U-Haul truck. Fresh out of seminary, the young pastor and his bride dreamed of planting a church that would be “a place where the hurting, the depressed, the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness and encouragement.”
With many good Bible-teaching churches already in Southern California, Pastor Rick turned his attention to those who didn’t attend church regularly. Two weeks after Pastor Rick and Kay arrived in the Saddleback Valley, they began with a small Bible study, meeting with one other family in the Warrens’ small condo.
On Easter of 1980, Saddleback Valley Community Church held its very first public service and 205 people, most of whom had never been to church, showed up. That began one of the most exciting journeys of growth that any church has experienced in American history. In more than two decades of ministry in south Orange County, God has continued to expand the church’s influence. Currently, Saddleback Church has more than 200 ministries serving the church and community. One in nine people in the area call Saddleback their church home.
God has also expanded the church’s ministry both nationally and internationally. Pastor Rick’s 1995 book, The Purpose Driven Church, put the principles that led to the church’s success in print, namely its focus on the five biblical purposes of the church: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism. Now more than 200,000 church leaders from around the world have been trained in Saddleback’s purpose-driven philosophy. Pastor Rick’s latest book, The Purpose Driven Life, has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 45 weeks and has currently sold over 30 million copies. It focuses on the truth that life is “not about you,” and shows how God can enable each of us to live for His purposes.
It is the dream of a place where the hurting, the depressed, the frustrated, and the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, and encouragement.
It is the dream of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the hundreds of thousands of residents in south Orange County.
It is the dream of welcoming 20,000 members into the fellowship of our church family-loving, learning, laughing, and living in harmony together.
It is the dream of developing people to spiritual maturity through Bible studies, small groups, seminars, retreats, and a Bible school for our members.
It is the dream of equipping every believer for a significant ministry by helping them to discover the gifts and talents God gave them.
It is the dream of sending out hundreds of career missionaries and church workers all around the world, and empowering every member for a personal life mission in the world. It is the dream of sending our members by the thousands on short-term mission projects to every continent. It is the dream of starting at least one new daughter church every year.
It is the dream of at least 50 acres of land, on which will be built a regional church for south Orange County-with beautiful, yet simple, facilities including a worship center seating thousands, a counseling and prayer center, classrooms for Bible studies and training lay ministers, and a recreation area. All of this will be designed to minister to the local person-spiritually, emotionally physically, and socially-and set in a peaceful, inspiring garden landscape.
I stand before you today and state in confident assurance that these dreams will become reality. Why? Because they are inspired by God.