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Rick Warren Tells Saddleback Church They Will Begin the Search For His Successor

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For 42 years Pastor Rick Warren has served as the lead pastor of Saddleback Church, but this weekend he announced to all 15 Saddleback locations in the United States and four international locations that he and church elders will begin searching for his successor.

Pastor Rick Warren: ‘Timing Is Everything in Life’

In a video that was aired at every campus this past weekend, Warren told those watching that, “Timing affects everything we do in life. It can mean the difference between success and failure, and we can only serve God with the time that he gives us in the times that he puts us in.” Warren pointed to Ecclesiastes 3:1 as he explained that there is a right time appointed for everything and there is a right time for every activity.

We don’t just do everything God wants us to, The Purpose Driven Life author said, but also “We are to do it at the right time.” Warren emphasized that “timing is everything in life.”

Warren quoted Acts 13:36, one of his life verses, sharing that it has guided him for the 51 years he’s served God in ministry. “David served God’s purpose in his generation, then he died…That statement is the definition of a successful life,” Warren said, adding he hopes that is what people will say about him when he is no longer on this earth.

“God has given me the privilege of serving not just one generation…but multiple generations.”

Warren explained that an email sent to Saddleback Church registrants over the weekend  announced an official search for Warren’s successor will begin this week. “That’s a big deal,” he said. Warren has been the only lead pastor for Saddleback in 42 years of ministry, which started when he was 26-years-old.

“This isn’t the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. It’s the beginning of the beginning,” Warren said. He detailed that church leadership is looking for a pastor who will replace him and continue leading the Saddleback Church family into the future.

Referencing God’s perfect timing, Warren said, “For 42 years, Kay and I have known that this time, this day would eventually arrive, and we’ve been waiting on God’s perfect timing to begin the process of finding our next lead pastor.” This process will allow Pastor Warren to smoothly transition into a lesser role as founding pastor of Saddleback Church.

Warren Shares ‘Why Now’

Warren referenced a survey stating that a pastor within the American church stays at a church for just 3.6 years before moving onto another church. He then recalled his first sermon at Saddleback in 1980, where he made the commitment to God and the congregation to give at least 40 years of his life to “growing the people of the Saddleback Church family.”

God made it clear to Warren right before the pandemic that after fulfilling his 40-year commitment, it wasn’t yet time to step down. Three weeks after celebrating Saddleback Church’s 40th anniversary, the pandemic hit, shutting down in-person services for over a year. This would have been not only hard for a new pastor at Saddleback Church to navigate through, Warren said, but probably impossible to hold the Saddleback Church family together. After COVID-19 restrictions began to lift, the Warrens knew it was the proper timing to start looking for Warren’s successor.

“We don’t know all the details,” Warren said, “You don’t have to see the top of the stairs to take the first step.” He added that God’s timing will allow the leadership team to take one step at a time.

Warren Answered Questions

During his video address to the congregation, Warren answered some questions that had been given to him. One of those questions asked whether he had a successor in mind. “No, we don’t,” he answered simply, and said the team is starting the process with no preconceptions. He said Saddleback Church leadership will look inside the church and outside it for possible successors who are already doing some type of “purpose-driven ministry.”

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Jesse is the Content Editor for ChurchLeaders and Site Manager for ChristianNewsNow. An undeserving husband to a beautiful wife, and a father to 4 beautiful children. He serves as a deacon, a growth group leader, and is a member of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio. Follow him on twitter here (https://twitter.com/jessetjackson)