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20,000 People Attend Saddleback Church's 35th Anniversary; Rick Warren Says 'We Dared to Dream Big'

rick warren
Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church's 35th anniversary event at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, on Saturday, March 21, 2015, where over 20,000 people attended. |

At least 20,000 people filled California's Angel Stadium as Pastor Rick Warren's multi-site Saddleback Church celebrated its 35th year of ministry. The pastor and his wife, Kay, announced bigger plans as the megachurch moves into a new phase.

"God has blessed Saddleback Church in an unusual way, but it has nothing to do with our being deserving," said Pastor Warren, author of the bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, at the community-wide service at the stadium in Anaheim Saturday to celebrate 35 years of ministry influence and impact.

"It has everything to do with God's grace. We dared to dream big, and God has done big things in the life of this church," the pastor added.

Saddleback Church is an influential congregation that boasts 14 campuses on five continents, and this was the third time that the megachurch used the Angel Stadium for a major gathering in the United States.

"People have said 'Happy Anniversary' to Rick and me, but this is our anniversary – the whole congregation," Kay Warren said. "It's the church members who make Saddleback what it is today. This celebration is a statement of faith for the future of Saddleback taking the Gospel across the globe."

Pastor Warren chose to repeat the sermon, titled "A Daring Faith," which he preached during the church's first service in 1980. But this time he preached it in past tense, showing how the founding members' vision has become a reality. "I dare you to dream great dreams for God," Warren said from the pitcher's mound, according to Orange County Register. "Whatever God asks you to do, do it, even if it's at great risk."

The Warrens founded Saddleback with seven people in their apartment.

The pastor and his wife, Kay, also announced plans for the next phase of ministry growth, called "Daring Faith."

Over the next 10 weeks, church members will be encouraged to participate in special small groups to foster unity across the congregation as the church enters its next decades of ministry, Saddleback said in a statement. Warren will be placing a special emphasis on how to dream biblically.

Through "Daring Faith," the church plans to double its Southern California campuses from 10 to 20 in the next three years, it announced. The church will also expand its PEACE Center to each campus.

The PEACE Center is "a place of compassion where our county's residents can come when they are in need of basic resources and assistance." Its ultimate goal is "to move each individual forward toward healthy life change."

"All of our biggest dreams and best days are ahead of us," Pastor Warren said.

Saddleback is one of the largest churches in America. It also has growing congregations in Berlin, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hong Kong, China; and South Manila, Philippines. The church averages 27,000 attendees at its weekly services, with individuals meeting in more than 7,500 small groups throughout the week.

The church has become a global influencer through initiatives such as The PEACE Plan, Celebrate Recovery, The Daniel Plan, Global HIV and Orphan Care, and Mental Health.

"There are so many individuals not only around the world but also in our backyards who are hurting and need a message of hope," said Kay Warren. "At Saddleback, we not only want to help those in need in our communities, but we also want to teach those who are served to then serve others in the name of Christ."

David Chrzan, chief of staff at Saddleback, told The Christian Post earlier that the service and the birthday for the ministry was "really exciting."

"We're thrilled that one we can celebrate 35 years of our church family, we get to celebrate the past, and see what God has done in our past," said Chrzan. "We get to celebrate our present, that we're one big family and we get to celebrate and build an excitement about where we're going in the future."

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