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Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life, talks about the importance of being a church that has both a come and see and a come an die approach to life with Jesus. He describes how Saddleback helps to transform their people from investing little to no commitment to an extreme commitment for Christ. Thoughts? Todd

Current Events
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?  

Current Events
Saddleback Church — headed by Pastor Rick Warren — has been given a 170-acre ranch in San Juan Capistrano from an Oklahoma City arts and crafts billionaire to help further Christian values by training pastors. Hobby Lobby, with more than 485 arts and crafts stores, has been leasing the Rancho Capistrano retreat property — nestled in the hills adjacent to the I-5 Freeway — to Saddleback Church for a nominal payment since last May when the Lake Forest mega-church had struck a deal to lease the ranchland from the crafts retailer. Hobby Lobby purchased the property a month before that from the then already-faltering Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Warren is expected to announce the donation from Hobby Lobby to his church membership on Saturday, Saddleback officials said Wednesday. The ranch retreat is 12 miles southwest of Saddleback’s Lake Forest main campus and on Sundays conducts two services as well offering a location for spiritual growth. The site is also used to train missionaries and pastors. Later this month Warren will host his Radicalis Conference at the ranch.
With the addition of the Rancho Capistrano property, Saddleback has expanded from the original Lake Forest campus to nine satellite campuses. Each week about 22,000 people attend the church across all 10 campuses.
In May 2010, Saddleback announced a deal to lease and take full responsibility for the 170-acre Crystal. Saddleback agreed to lease the property from Hobby Lobby for a nominal fee. The arts and crafts retailer bought the land from Crystal Cathedral during the same month. Prior to that Saddleback had been in lease negotiations with the financially-strapped Crystal Cathedral for 18 months to lease and take responsibility of the property. Crystal Cathedral administrators in March 2010 shut down all operations at Rancho Capistrano, including a church, preschool, retreat area, soccer fields, camping grounds and a conference and wedding center. The megachurch’s continuing financial woes had led to the sale of several properties, employee layoffs and suspension of its “Glory of Easter” pageant. Johnnie Crean, whose parents donated 80 acres of the Rancho Capistrano land, told the Register in 2010 that he believed Saddleback Church would fit in well at the property. From the Thoughts?  

Current Events
Saddleback Church in southern California trained nearly 2,400 new church members on Saturday. It was the largest membership class in the megachurch’s 30-year history. Of those who participated in the church’s introductory membership session, Class 101, about 800 were baptized afterwards. Founding pastor Rick Warren personally taught the program and then, with the help of other Saddleback pastors, spent more than three and a half hours baptizing the hundreds of new members. Attendees were walked through three areas in their faith life: God’s plan and purpose for everything; the history, faith and future vision of the church; and the importance of membership. via The Christian Post.

Geoff Surratt has been busy since his move last month to California… check out what he’s been working on at Saddleback: The Saddleback Church Leadership Academy seeks to equip, empower, and encourage individuals to pursue their calling to church planting or ministry leadership — to live out their purpose and passion for Gods kingdom. Our mission is to develop the next generation of leaders to plant and lead new churches, multi-site campuses, and the ministries that will serve them. You can get more info here…




Current Events
Saddleback Church on Tuesday announced a deal to lease and take full responsibility for the 170-acre Crystal Cathedral retreat property in San Juan Capistrano.  The property has been purchased by Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. of Oklahoma City, officials said. According to Saddleback officials, the decision to sell the land to Hobby Lobby was decided a month ago by Crystal Cathedral Ministries and finalized late Monday night. The Rancho Capistrano property will become an overnight retreat for personal renewal, group fellowship and life planning and will save the Crystal Cathedral nearly $5 million a year in operating costs. Read more here…

In his statement last week giving the reason for his $900k plea, Rick Warren wrote:  “The cause of our financial shortfall was… simply by the way Christmas occurred in this year’s calendar. After 10 packed Christmas services, and with Christmas Day on Friday, many people were out of town or too tired to come back for weekend services, so the unusually low attendance created an unusually low offering.”  Just wondering… was your attendance and offering unusually low on December 27? I’d love to hear how your church did.  Please leave a comment below…

Current Events
It all started last Wednesday when Rick Warren posted an urgen plea on the Saddleback Church website:  “THIS IS AN URGENT LETTER unlike any I’ve written in 30 years. Please read all of it and get back to me in the next 48 hours.” In the letter to the Saddleback family, Warren asked the church to help make up for a year-end $900k shortfall. After a media and blog firestorm, an update to the initial post was made, giving some additional clarification:

BACKGROUND: The cause of our financial shortfall was NOT a management issue but simply by the way Christmas occurred in this year’s calendar. After 10 packed Christmas services, and with Christmas Day on Friday, many people were out of town or too tired to come back for weekend services, so the unusually low attendance created an unusually low offering. That is understandable

MEDIA: Because our church attracts a lot of attention, the media will undoubtedly report my letter- but only partially, not telling the whole story. It is likely that none of the positive end-of-the-year reports of your service to the community and none of your amazing accomplishments as a church family in 2009 will be reported. They may get some facts wrong or even misjudge our motivations. I know this is frustrating, but don’t let it bother you.

According to the LA Times, Saddleback brought in more and $2.4 million dollars as a result, since last Wednesday.  Rick announced the total at services over the weekend, and confirmed that this was the amount that people had turned in so far in person, and did not include many other donations that had been mailed.  Warren used the occasion to preach a message on ‘Radical Generosity’. Here’s more from the LA Times story: “I wasn’t surprised by this offering, as Saddleback is famous for radical generosity,” Warren said during tonight’s service. Warren represented the total with a display that included 24 parishioners rising to represent $100,000 each, said spokeswoman Kristin Cole. Virtually all of the individual donations were for less than $1,000, according to the church, she added. More donations remain to be counted. The church has launched similar appeals before, raising $1.6 million for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and $1.7 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005. “I say without fear of contradiction that I don’t know of a more generous church,” Warren said in a news release. The church does not release comprehensive information about its budget — or even a budget total — so it’s difficult for those outside the leadership to get a clear picture of church finances. The church was never in danger of going under, Cole said. But without the infusion, the church would not have been able to accomplish its ministerial work as planned, she said. Like other charitable organizations, Saddleback has had to do more with less, even as it expanded its work in some areas, Cole said.

Current Events
In a letter posted on the Saddleback Website, Rick Warren is asking that Saddleback attenders help him close a $900,000 gap in the church budget by the end of the year (tonight at midnight). In the letter posted Wednesday at the church’s website, Warren says that ministry and results are way up, but the struggling economy has caused many not to be able to give as much as in the past. You can read the whole letter from Rick Warren to the Saddleback family here, along with a couple of local press articles about the announcement: Rick’s letter to Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren urgently asks faithful for $900,000 Saddleback Church members say ‘Amen’ to pastor’s request

Current Events
This is the first time I’ve heard the term ‘signature’ ministry batted around, but Rick Warren announced a new ‘signature’ ministry this week at Saddleback’s latest Civil Forum… Signature ministries, from what I’ve been able to find out, include things such as the PEACE Plan, Celebrate Recovery, and last year’s announced Orphan Care program.  This week, Rick Warren announced that there would be a new signature ministry that would help support the persecuted church. According to a press release, Warren began the event by telling his audience the shocking truth that tens of thousands of Christians were killed for their faith last year. At the conclusion of the forum, he announced, “Tonight we will begin a new ‘signature’ ministry for the persecuted church, so we can keep this on the front burner. “We want this to become an ongoing thing here at the church, because the Bible tells us that we should pray for those in chains, we should pray for the persecuted and pray for those in prison,” he said. “We are to remember those who are suffering. “There are four things you can do,” he told his church members. “You can pray, speak up, give and you can serve.” Warren asked members of his congregation to commit to pray specifically for a country where the “persecuted church exists.” I applaud Rick and his heart for the persecuted church.  I read many reports of how Christians are still being persecuted around the world.  The truth is… we have a really sweet deal here in America.  In fact, our deal is so sweet that most of us do nothing that we could probably be persectued for.  (But that’s a whole other problem). It will be interesting to see how this ministry forms and takes off. Todd