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Rick Warren Preaches Final Sermon after 43 Years as Saddleback Pastor: ‘It’s Been My Privilege to Love You’

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Monday, August 29, 2022
Rick Warren Preaches Final Sermon after 43 Years as Saddleback Pastor: ‘It’s Been My Privilege to Love You’

Rick Warren Preaches Final Sermon after 43 Years as Saddleback Pastor: ‘It’s Been My Privilege to Love You’


Rick Warren preached his final sermon as pastor of Saddleback Church Sunday by delivering the same message he preached more than four decades ago, urging those in attendance to “invest” their lives in something of eternal value. 

Saddleback, a California-based church with 40,000 members, was launched in 1980 as a church plant by Rick and Kay Warren at Laguna Hills High School. 

About 50 people — most of them strangers — attended the first Sunday on March 30, 1980. Warren was a 25-year-old recent graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.  

“We didn't know each other — they didn't know me, I didn't know them, they didn't know each other,” Warren said during Sunday’s message. “These were just 50-60 people who had shown up in response to a letter that I had written to the community.”

But the church made a big impact nearly immediately, with 60 baptisms over the next nine months.

Saddleback was launched with a “purpose-driven value” at the beginning “with the end in mind,” he said.

“That's what it means to be purpose-driven — begin with the end in mind. Know where you’re going,” Warren said. 

Warren delivered his final sermon with the same wooden pulpit he used during the first 15 years of Saddleback. A church member built it. 

"For 43 years, it's been my privilege to love you, pray for you, serve you, encourage you, stand by the gravesides, stand by the bedsides, do the weddings, counsel through difficult times, encourage you, and teach you,” he said. 

His first sermon in 1980 was from Zechariah. 

“Building a new place of worship can be done not by human strength, but only by God's power,” Warren said in re-preaching his first sermon. “... We're going to need God's spirit to strengthen us in building a new house of worship. 

"Will you join us in this extravagant journey — this great adventure?” he asked. “Will you join us in doing God's Word as the foundation of our lives? Will you join us in fulfilling God's 

Photo Credit: ©Saddleback Church


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.