Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, preached his final sermon last Sunday (August 28) before his retirement. Forty-three years ago, Warren started the church with only a handful of congregants in 1980. Today. the church has several campuses in California and around the world. Weekly church attendance was 23,494 people in 2020.
"You're going to make me cry. Have I told you lately that I love you?" Warren, 68, said after he came on stage to applause from the congregation on Aug. 28. "It has been my privilege to love you, pray for you, serve you, encourage you."
Recalling his first message as a young pastor searching for a flock in Orange County, Warren offered the same sermon he gave during the first service on March 30, 1980, in the theater of a Laguna Hills high school, called "The Beginning of a Miracle." He urged the audience to "invest" their lives in something of eternal value.
During his sermon, Warren talked about a familiar theme that has made him a household name - being "purpose driven."
In 1995, Zondervan published his book The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God's Eyes, and in 2002 published a sequel, his New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. As of 2020, the book has sold more than 50 million copies in 85 different languages. The success of the book allowed him to give away most of his income and re-invest in the church and others.
Warren was born in San Jose, California and earned a Bachelor of Arts from California Baptist University, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife Kay founded Saddleback Church when he was just 26 years old and he continues to serve as the senior pastor. To many, he is Pastor Rick, but to his church, he is Papa Rick-a voice of wisdom, hope, encouragement, and vision.