Pastor Rick Warren delivered his final sermon at Saddleback Church on August 28, 2022 with a message going back to the theme of his first sermon 43 years ago. He centered his swan song on a purpose-driven life, the same message he preached to 50 strangers in a small theater at Laguna Hills High School in 1980.
In 2002, Warren authored his bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, which promotes living life to satisfy God through worship and ministry. It’s a 40-day personal spiritual journey where he explains God’s five purposes of people. According to its publisher Simon & Schuster, 50 million copies had been sold in more than 85 languages by 2020.
One of the values — purpose-driven values — that we hold on to here at our church is, ‘begin with the end in mind.’ —Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Church
Warren, known to his church as Papa Rick, entered the stage one last time to warm applause as he bowed his head in gratitude for the love and support of congregants. “You’re going to make me cry. Have I told you lately that I love you?” he asked the cheering crowd.
“As you know by now, today is my last message to you as your senior pastor. For 43 years, it has been my privilege to love you, pray for you, serve you, encourage you, be at the bedsides, be at the gravesides, be at the counseling when you’re going through a tough patch in your life; and to teach you,” he said.
“And during these 43 years, I have preached 6,500 plus messages, sermons and studies. But in this … our final, our last farewell message, I have decided that of all those 6,500 messages plus that I want to share with you, to repeat and re-preach, the very first message I preached to start this church, word for word, 43 years ago.
“One of the values — purpose-driven values — that we hold on to here at our church is, ‘begin with the end in mind.’ Whatever project you’re starting, begin with the end in mind. That’s called being purpose driven. You know your purpose in advance. And we knew from the very beginning what kind of church this was going to be.”
Warren entitled his sermon 5 Reasons This Church Is Guaranteed To Succeed and requested congregants in attendance across several campuses to imagine they were one of the 50 people in the school gym for the first-ever gathering of the church. “Success is not size. Success is changed lives. You’ll hear me say that a thousand times in the years ahead,” he pointed out.
He encouraged them to dream big for doing God’s work. “Let the size of your God determine the size of your goal.” Just like what he promised to the dozens of early congregants during the first year of the church in 1980, he gave more than 40 years of his life in service.
The beloved pastor announced his retirement in June 2021 and will give the reins of the global church operation to Andy Wood with his wife, Stacie. Andy and Stacie formerly led Echo.Church in the San Francisco Bay Area before the call to the Orange County church.