Saddleback Cancels

In a rare move, the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Orange County is canceling all of its worship services during the second weekend in December in order to help facilitate a huge neighborhood volunteer opportunity.  Rick Warren is Saddleback attenders to take at least a half day on Saturday or Sunday (Dec. 10, 11) to go “serve in the community and love your neighbor as yourself.”

In its 31-year history, the megachurch has canceled weekend services less than a handful of times, according to Warren.

Church officials are hoping to mobilize Saddleback’s base of 5,000 Bible study groups, referred to as “small groups,” to perform their own chosen acts of kindness in their neighborhoods.

Pastor Erik Rees, designated as the pastor of Ministries and Life Worship at the church, is leading the team that is championing the event called, “Good Neighbor Weekend.”

“Saddleback has always been a loving and caring church that gives and gives, so this weekend will continue our commitment to love our neighbors,” Rees told The Christian Post. “The weekend will include a variety of ways to shower our neighbors with compassion, kindness and love. These opportunities include on-campus, in the community, and through our 5,000 small groups.”

SOURCE:  The Christian Post

Great idea or horrible one?

Would your church ever consider doing something like this?



  • Dave December 5, 2011 Reply

    I applaud the priority that many churches are placing upon service by cancelling services. I wonder when service or services became and either/or proposition. Is the “worship” hour the ONLY time in a person’s week when they are available to serve their community? Having grown up in Christian Fundamentalism, e.g. it takes 3 to thrive (actually it is 4 or 5 if you count Sunday School before AM worship and “discipleship” class before PM service), has the call to follow Christ really been reduced to a few hours out of each weekend?
    Perhaps I am too “old school”, but I think the principle of sabbath teaches that one day belongs to rest and intentional worship and the rest of the week ought to be worship expressed through compassionate obedience to the Lord’s commands.

    • Kimberly December 5, 2011 Reply

      I agree.

  • A medrano December 5, 2011 Reply

    This is so awesome!! I can’t wait for more churches to catch on to this. Serving is an act of worship, and I can only hope that serving each other in community can become our new worship service. Just imagine what this would become!

  • Keith December 5, 2011 Reply

    I think it is a great idea. We as a “church” should be serving outside of Sunday morning, but lets be honest there (unfortunatly) is a consumer mentality and if for one weekend they cancel services and open up more time for people to give time and serve someone else maybe enough people will catch the passion/vision and would be more willing to do it when services are not cancelled.

  • Peter December 5, 2011 Reply

    These “church without walls” weekends can be really great as a springboard. I think they can also become a gimmick, but perhaps a good gimmick.

  • Andy Wood December 6, 2011 Reply

    Sooner or later somebody is going to mention or think of Hebrews 10:25 about forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, etc.

    But what Saddleback is canceling is presumably a seeker-oriented service that focuses attention of the congregation on the message and music that takes place on the stage. Instead, they are working together to “encourage one another to love and good works”… by actually doing good works. Maybe by doing so they are actually providing a format by which small groups can springboard into future activity themselves, on their own initiative.

    The Sunday morning value here is in the uniqueness of the project. The long-term value is in the church’s ability to leverage this on other days of the week.

  • Pastor Shane December 6, 2011 Reply

    Without going into the whole spirit of the Sabbath, we have one day a week to come together in corporate worship – and have 6 other days to “serve outside the walls”. People come to church hurting, broken, and begging to hear Gods voice. I would be negligent in my responsibility if I handed them an orange vest and told them that they can come back next week for encouragement — but this Sunday we are picking up trash along a highway.

    • Tray Pruet December 7, 2011 Reply

      Respectfully Shane, I think your post is very shortsighted and demeaning (picking up trash). As a pastor of a church who has cancelled service every 5th Sunday for the past 4 years to “love our neighbors and serve our city”, I can assure you that as people serve, they hear God’s voice. Scripture is laced (over 2200 times) with a call to serve the least, take care of the widow, the orphan and those in the margins. And this can take many forms.
      We have long believed that if we will serve as instructed by God, he will meet us there, because of his promises. This isn’t merely a ‘project’ it is disciple making. WE find that people intuitively bring people along to serve them…and it’s not someone who goes to another church. Many times we have found ourselves serving alongside atheists, agnostics, skeptics, dechurched, unchurched people who have long craved a church to care about the things that they care about.
      As we partner with non-profits we are presenting a posture of the church that is no longer threatening or exclusive. But one of renewal, regeneration, and restoration.
      Let me encourage you to read ‘Barefoot Church’ by Brandon Hatmaker.
      We aren’t merely ‘picking up trash’ though we have done this with Keep Austin Beautiful….but we have painted classrooms, fed thousands of homeless, mentored, elderly care and visits, orphan care, help transition homeless single moms into housing, help build homes, remodel single moms trailer and the list goes on.
      As we make disciples and baptize them we are also suppose to be equipping the saints for works of service. Anyone who is not doing that is negligent in his duties.
      Please read my blog for more:

  • Eric Smith December 6, 2011 Reply

    Awesome for Saddleback! Our church does this the second Sunday of every month and we call it Take It To The Streets! We gather early that morning and send everyone out all over the Jackson, MS Metro area to serve! We have been doing it for a year now and it has been life changing for our church!

  • Eric Smith December 6, 2011 Reply

    My bad the correct site is:

  • James Mac December 6, 2011 Reply

    @Pastor Shane:

    no offence, but there may be value in it being a Sunday morning activity because it’s the best (only?) time to get to the rest of the community.

    Oh, and please trust God that He can help people who are broken, hurting and begging to hear His voice inside church and outside.

  • We have done this a number of times over the past few years.We worship in the community in homes after cancelling church (just did this last Sunday We also do the same on Sunday for acts of service.

    We see the church as the people, worshiping and serving outside the walls. We interact with people who are not even seekers. Oh, and it is fun and that is in our mission statement.

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