Rick Warren Biography- Founder of Saddleback Church ‘Large Conservation Baptist Church’

Rick Warren Biography- Founder of Saddleback Church ‘Large Conservation Baptist Church’

Richard Duane Warren is an evangelical Christian preacher and author from the United States. He was born on January 28, 1954. He started the large conservative Baptist church in Lake Forest, California, called Saddleback Church.

Educational Background

Warren’s parents, Jimmy and Dot Warren, had him in San Jose, California. His dad was a Baptist preacher, and his mom worked as a librarian at a high school. He grew up in Ukiah, California, and started the first Christian club at Ukiah High School, where he finished in 1972.

He went to California Baptist University in Riverside, California, and got a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and got a Master of Divinity in 1979. He also went to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he studied and got a Doctor of Ministry degree.

The Ministry

Warren says that when he was a 19-year-old student at California Baptist University, he felt called to full-time preaching. In November 1973, he and a friend skipped school and drove 350 miles to the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco to hear W. A. Criswell lecture. Warren waited until later to shake hands with Criswell. Criswell focused on Warren and said, “I feel led to lay hands on you and pray for you!”

During his time at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Warren worked at Billie Hanks Jr.’s church, the Texas Ranch for Christ. It was there that he started writing books. He wrote two books with Tom Hanks and Wayne Watts. They are called The Victory Scripture Memory Series and Twelve Dynamic Bible Study Methods for Laity.

In January 1980, Warren and seven other people, including his wife, met at their home in Saddleback Valley, Orange County, California, to study the Bible.[9] In April 1980, Warren held the first public service of Saddleback Church on Easter Sunday at the Laguna Hills High School Theatre. About 200 people were there. Warren’s ways for growing the church led to fast growth, and in its 35-year history, the church has been in nearly 80 different places. On average, about 20,000 people go to church every week.

During the Baptist World Alliance’s Centennial Congress in 2005, he said that the Southern Baptist Convention’s decision to leave the Alliance was wrong because religious differences shouldn’t keep churches from getting along.

Warren has been asked to talk at national and international events, such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard Kennedy School, TED, and Time’s Global Health Summit. Since 2005, he has been part of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

In August 2008, Warren got more attention across the country when she hosted the Civil Forum on the Presidency at Saddleback Church. John McCain and Barack Obama were among the speakers. McCain and Obama made their first joint appearance as the likely Republican and Democratic nominees for president at the debate. It was shown live on national TV.

In December 2008, President-elect Obama asked Warren to say the prayer at his inauguration. People who support abortion rights and LGBT rights were upset by the decision, and both Obama and Warren came under fire for it. Obama defended his pick of Warren by saying that even though he disagreed with the minister’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage, there should be room for dialogue on such hard social issues. When it was reported that Warren would be the main speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service on January 19, 2009, the day before Obama’s inauguration, this caused even more controversy. The next day, he gave the prayer at Obama’s inauguration, which was praised by most people for its positive message.

In January 2009, Warren and the Reader’s Digest Association worked together to launch the Purpose Driven Connection, a quarterly magazine that is sold as part of a bundle of multimedia goods. In November 2009, the magazine’s partners said that there weren’t enough paid members, so the magazine would end after the fourth issue that month.

In 2010, Warren was asked to lead a prayer at the event where Paul Kagame became President of Rwanda. Since then, he has been on the Presidential Advisory Council of the latter.

Warren said in June 2021 that he would be leaving his job as senior preacher at Saddleback, but he would stay until his replacement is chosen. Warren stopped being the lead pastor in 2022, but he kept his job as a founding pastor.

Warren was made the first honorary president of Spurgeon’s College in May of 2023.[28] After the Saddleback Church was kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention the next month for choosing a woman pastor, he fought for women to be ordained.


Driven by Purpose

In the early days of Saddleback, when pastors called or wrote him, Warren taught them the ideas that would later become the Purpose Driven Ministry mindset.

Warren has taught this subject before because he was a part of the Institute for Evangelism and Church Growth, which is part of Fuller Theological Seminary.

In 1995, Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Church, was released by Zondervan. In it, he put together many of the lessons he had learned while starting Saddleback Church and while training other pastors for years. After telling the “Saddleback Story,” the book makes a case for building a church around five purposes: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. This is what Warren calls a “crowd to core” way of church growth. He told churches to reach out to their communities, get a lot of people to come, turn those people into members, help them grow up, train them to be ministers, and send them out on a mission.

In 2004, more than 10,000 churches from many different groups went to a seminar or gathering that Warren led.

P.E.A.C.E. Plan

In 2003, Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church started a programme for churches to help people in need called the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.


Time magazine said that Warren was one of the “leaders who mattered most in 2004.” Time magazine called Warren one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in April 2005. U.S. News & World Report named Warren one of “America’s Top 25 Leaders” in October 2005. Newsweek named Warren one of “15 People Who Make America Great” in 2006.

In 2006, more than 30 million books of The Purpose Driven Life were sold, making Warren a New York Times best-selling author.

Life at Home

Since June 21, 1975, Warren has been married to Kay Warren. They have three grown-up kids and four grandkids. He has learned a lot from people like Billy Graham, Peter Drucker, and his own father.

In 2006, after his book The Purpose Driven Life became popular, he said that he had decided to “reverse the tithe” by giving 90% of his income to three charities and no longer getting paid by the church.

Matthew, Warren’s youngest son, killed himself on April 6, 2013. He had been dealing with mental illness since he was a kid. He says that more than 10,000 people wrote to him about their own problems in the church after the event. At The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church in March 2014, Warren started a mission to teach Saddleback how to help people with mental illness.

Politics and Society

At the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health in Washington, D.C., Kay and Rick Warren (left of picture) gave the International Medal of Peace to President George W. Bush, who was standing next to Laura Bush.

Because of how Warren talks about political problems that are important to U.S. evangelicals and how much he cares about social issues, he has been called one of a “new breed of evangelical leaders.” Warren strongly denies that this shows that he has changed his mind about traditional evangelical problems, as some news outlets have said.

In a Newsweek magazine interview with atheist author Sam Harris, Warren argued against evolution and for creationism. When asked if faith is good for society, he said that Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot were all atheists, and that they were all cruel dictators.

During the Terri Schiavo controversy in 2005, Warren said on Larry King Live that not feeding Terri Schiavo, who was in a persistent vegetative state, was “not a right-to-die issue.” He went into more detail about his worries about the choice to take away her feeding tube. “I fear the day when we say, ‘Well, you don’t have a right to live if you’re mentally, physically, or emotionally disabled, so we’re just not going to feed you anymore,'” he said. That seems like a Nazi-level crime to me.”

After being asked over and over again on Hardball with Chris Matthews why Michael Schiavo would want his wife’s feeding tube taken out, Warren said, “I don’t know. Well, I’m not sure. You could guess for a thousand different reasons. What if she came back from somewhere else and said something he didn’t want to hear?”

Two weeks before the 2008 U.S. general election, Warren sent a letter to his congregation supporting California Proposition 8, which would change the California Constitution to make it illegal for same-sex couples to get married. This was in line with the official position of his church’s denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. After the measure passed, protesters went to Warren’s church and other places to show their disapproval.

In an interview with Beliefnet in early December 2008, Warren seemed to compare same-sex marriages to marriages between siblings, marriages with more than one partner, and marriages between adults and children. This caused more controversy. Later, he put out a video message saying that he doesn’t think gay relationships are the same as incest or paedophilia, but that he does think that marriage should not be changed. In December 2012, Chelsea Clinton asked him what he thought about same-sex marriage. He said that he knew it might become legal all over the United States, but that because he believed the Bible, he did not “approve” of it or think it was “right.” He said that using the word “marriage” to describe same-sex partnerships was a “redefinition” of the word and that the word belonged to the dominant society (religious people or straight people) because it had been used for “a long time.”

In a May 2014 story in The Washington Post, Warren backed Hobby Lobby’s owners, David and Barbara Green, in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. The main issue in the case was the company’s desire for a religious exemption from parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that require companies to give health insurance to their employees. Warren wrote, “The [A]dministration wants everyone to give to Caesar not only what belongs to Caesar but also what belongs to God. If it wins, it would hurt the main reason why the United States was created in the first place.”


In 2006, Suzanne Sataline wrote in the Wall Street Journal about congregations that had split over how to grow and congregations that had kicked out members who didn’t like changes. She wrote, “Warren admits that congregations that follow his ideas sometimes split, but he says he is against trying to kick people out of the church.”

In 2008, some evangelical preachers criticised Warren for not being conservative enough on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion and for having ties to Muslim leaders. He told these doubters that they were focusing too much on stopping gay marriage and abortion.

During the 2008 election for president of the United States, Warren held the Civil Forum on the Presidency at his church. Both John McCain and Barack Obama were there. Later, in January 2009, Obama caused a stir when he asked Warren to say the prayer at the presidential inauguration.

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