The following comes from a June 6 Orange County Register article by Erika I. Ritchie:
Saddleback Church has launched what leaders are calling its largest and most ambitious plan ever to expand the mega-church’s ministry.
Pastor Rick Warren describes The Daring Faith Campaign as the church’s most faith-stretching, world-impacting and God-honoring plan in 35 years.
A week ago, Warren’s congregation responded during his Victory Sermon at the church’s main campus in Lake Forest, pledging to raise $71 million over the next three years to take Saddleback’s reach beyond its already global impact. About $7 million has already come in as cash donations. The Children’s ministry – students from Kindergarten to 6th grade – raised $20,156 by donating more than 600,000 coins. The campaign is Saddleback’s eighth and largest.
“Seventy-one million dollars!” Warren said during the service, counting up lighted boxes that each represent $1 million. “That will reach thousands and thousands in Christ. Do you know anything bigger in your life? What’s more important than that? … We want to see people in heaven from every nation.”
Over the decades, Saddleback has grown to include 10 Southern California campuses averaging 27,000 weekly worshipers and 7,500 small groups meeting in homes, according to church statistics. Church leaders have trained more than 400,000 churches worldwide in the purpose-driven strategy. International campuses have sprung up in Berlin; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hong Kong; and South Manila, Philippines.
But the church has a new goal – 40,000 weekend worshipers by 2020, it’s 40th anniversary. They will open 10 more Saddleback campuses in Southern California. PEACE centers – such as the one on the Lake Forest campus providing assistance locally with food, medical help and counseling, are being planned at existing campuses such as Anaheim and Capistrano. In those areas the centers will work with nearby Children’s Hospital of Orange County and Mission Regional Hospital to provide care for local families in need.
Technology and member-know-how will be used to keep worldwide members and outreach connected. A three-story Global Training Center will be built at the Lake Forest campus. It will be sort of a mini-college where members will be schooled in the arts, music, seminary and leadership.
The church will reach out to an estimated 3,000 small tribes, mainly in places like Africa, South America, China and Russia to spread their message and bring them to God. Members will be mobilized and work with other churches to get the message of Christ out to those who have never heard it.
Warren’s wife, Kay, said they were both amazed by the amount pledged, but not surprised. Historically, the church has grown through a culture of giving that started with its inaugral members who believed in Rick Warren and his message. In 1983, they raised an initial $1.2 million to buy land for the church.
Kay Warren said the culture of giving has been passed down through generations but also comes from a flock of young families who have watched Rick Warren and his message and believe in the church’s goals.
“This is the type of people who call Saddleback their home,” she said. “These are just average people making those amazing sacrifices. That’s how Saddleback has grown.”