Influential author and leader Rick Warren preached his final sermon as pastor of Saddleback Church on Sunday. He delivered the same message he preached more than four decades ago, urging those in attendance to invest their lives in something of eternal value.
Warren was a best-selling author over the years. His titles include his diet book, “The Daniel Plan,” plus “Purpose Driven Life,” “The Purpose Driven Church,” “40 Days of Love,” and dozens of other titles.
About 50 people attended the first service on March 30, 1980. Warren was a 25-year-old recent graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. “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 or 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. Warren delivered his final sermon with the same wooden pulpit he used during the first 15 years of Saddleback.
“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.
He then made the purpose of his final sermon clear.
“During these 43 years, I have preached 6,500 plus messages, sermons and studies,” he said. “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.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice