Rick Warran is one of the most recognized and influential Pastors in the world, He is the founder of the Saddleback Church, which is among the largest churches in the United States of America. Regarded by ‘Time Magazine’ as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’, Warren has more than 300 community ministries. This Evangelical minister is also a successful author, whose works include ‘The Purpose Driven Church’ which has spawned a series of conferences on Christian ministry and evangelism and ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ which has sold more than 30 million copies, making Warren a New York Times bestselling author.
He has spoken at many prestigious national and international forums including, United Nations, Global Health Summit, World Economic Forum in Davos, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Aspen Ideas Institute, TED, and numerous world congresses on the issues of poverty, health, education, corruption, leadership development, and faith and ethics in culture. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy.
He also hosted the Civil Forum on the Presidency that featured back-to-back interviews of Presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. A pastor, philanthropist, theologian and global strategist, Warren has been active in social causes and spoken in churches across the world on issues like poverty, diseases and the increase of educational and employment opportunities.
Childhood and Education
Richard Duane Rick Warren was born (January 28, 1954) in San Jose, California to Jimmy Warren, a Baptist minister and Dot Warren, a high school librarian. He grew up in the neighbourhood of Ukiah, California.
In 1972, he graduated from the Ukiah High School, where he founded the first Christian club on the school’s campus, The Fishers of Men Club. He later graduated from the California Baptist University with a degree in arts.
Warren received a Bachelor of Arts degree from California Baptist University in Riverside, California; a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary(1979) in Fort Worth, Texas; and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
Family And Personal Life
Rick Warren had two siblings, a brother, Jim C. Warren and a sister, Chaundel. Chaundel, is married to Saddleback pastor Tom Holladay, while Jim C. Warren, died in 2007.
Warren has been married to Kay Warren since June 21, 1975. They have three adult children (Amy, Josh, and Matthew) and four grandchildren. He considers Billy Graham, Peter Drucker, and his own father to be among his mentors.
Because of the success of his book sales, in 2005 Warren returned his 25 years of salary to the church and discontinued taking a salary. He says he and his wife became “reverse tithers,” giving away 90% of their income and living off 10%.
Recommended: List of Books By Rick Warren
Warren’s youngest son, Matthew, took his own life April 6, 2013, after years of struggling with mental illness. Almost a year after his son’s suicide, Warren launched a ministry to educate the Church on its role to help people struggling with mental illness with a Mental Illness and the Church Gathering in March 2014. In the year following the suicide, Warren says that more than 10,000 people wrote to him about their struggles with mental illness within the Church.
Career And Ministry
Warren says he was called to full-time ministry when he was a 19-year-old student at California Baptist University. In November 1973, he and a friend skipped classes and drove 350 miles to hear W.A. Criswell preach at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco. Warren waited afterwards to shake hands with Criswell, who focused on Warren, stating, “I feel led to lay hands on you and pray for you!”
During his time at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Warren worked at the Texas Ranch for Christ, a ministry facility of Billie Hanks, Jr., where he began writing books. He co-wrote two books, The Victory Scripture Memory Series and Twelve Dynamic Bible Study Methods for Laity with Billie Hanks, Jr., and Wayne Watts.
After completing seminary, Rick and Kay felt called to start a fellowship to reach people who didn’t attend church. Joined by one other family, they began a small Bible study in their home in Saddleback Valley. The group quickly grew, and by Easter Sunday of 1980, they welcomed 205 mostly unchurched people to their first public service. Saddleback Valley Community Church was born, launching the Warrens and their community of new believers on an unprecedented journey of growth and faith.
Saddleback did not build its first permanent building until it had 10,000 weekly attenders. When the current Lake Forest campus was purchased in the early 1990s, a 2,300-seat plastic tent was used for worship services for several years, with four services each weekend. In 1995, the current Worship Center was completed, with a seating capacity of 3,500. A multimillion-dollar children’s ministry building and a staff office building were completed over the next few years. In June 2008, a $20 million student ministry facility called the “Refinery” was completed, housing the “Wildside” middle school and “HSM” high school ministries, consisting of 1,500 students. Saddleback Church averages nearly 20,000 people in attendance each week.
Warren has been invited to speak at national and international forums, including the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, TED, and Time’s Global Health Summit. He has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) since 2005.
Warren was named one of “America’s Top 25 Leaders” in the October 31, 2005, issue of U.S. News and World Report. Warren was named by Time magazine as one of “15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004” and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” (2005). In 2006 Newsweek called him one of “15 People Who Make America Great”.
In August 2008, Warren drew greater national attention by hosting the Civil Forum on the Presidency, featuring senators John McCain and Barack Obama at Saddleback Church. Warren said the goal of the forum was to “restore civility in our civil discourse.” The forum marked McCain and Obama’s first joint appearance as the presumptive Republican and Democratic presidential nominees and was broadcast live on national television. During the two-hour event, each candidate took the stage separately for about an hour to respond to Warren’s questions about faith and moral issues including abortion and human rights.
In December 2008, President-elect Obama chose Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration ceremony. The decision angered pro-choice and LGBT advocates and led to criticism of both Obama and Warren. Obama defended his choice of Warren, saying that although he disagreed with the minister’s positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, there should be room for dialogue on such difficult social issues. More controversy ensued when it was announced that Warren would be the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service on January 19, 2009, the day prior to the inauguration. On January 20, 2009, Warren delivered the invocation, which was generally praised for its positive message.
In January 2009, Warren and the Reader’s Digest Association partnered in the launch of the Purpose Driven Connection, a quarterly publication sold as part of a bundle of multimedia products. In November 2009, the partners announced that the magazine had not drawn enough paying members and would cease after publication of the fourth issue that month.
Warren and his wife are directors of the following non-profit organizations:
- Acts of Mercy
- RKW Legacy Partners
- Equipping the Church
Rick Warren has written several popular Christian books which have been translated into some 50 languages. See Books By Rick Warren.