Thursday, August 24, 2006

Saddleback impressions

I have read both of Rick Warren’s books (Purpose Drive Church and Purpose Driven Life) and have been very challenged and enriched by both of them. I also have read and heard much about Saddleback Church where Warren is Senior Pastor. What a thrill it was to visit his ministry on a Sunday morning this summer and to see first-hand what this amazing church is like. Here is a quick overview:

The auditorium hosts the main service in which the music is a contemporary worship feel. At the same time, there are several other services taking place in other tents and buildings. The music in each is live but with a different style. I was able to pop my head into most of them and by far the Gospel tent was the most happening of all of them. The speaker, which that week was Doug Fields, not Rick Warren, speaks live in the main auditorium. The sermon is than broadcast via video to the other tents. So, though the music is live and a different style in each location, the speaker and message is the same. I counted 21 weekend services that were offered, broken down into the following styles:
  • Worship Center: This is the contemporary service held in the main auditorium where the teaching is live and is videocast to the other venues.
  • Praise: This is the Gospel music experience with a big choir.
  • Traditions: This is the lower volume experience with classic hymns and old favorites.
  • OverDrive: This is the guitar-driven rock band worship feel.
  • Passion: This is a warm community atmosphere with music and worship.
  • Elevation: This is for single adults who like current Christian radio hits.
  • Ohana: This is an island style worship experience complete with hula.
  • Terrace Café: This is church in a casual outdoor café atmosphere.
  • The Encounter: This is the Spanish speaking service.

There was also a separate tent for the Junior High Program and Senior High Program. A large Children’s Building was where all of the kid’s activities took place including 3 separate auditoriums for 3 separate age groups of kids. Each area was pleasantly decorated and included play station games as well as a wide variety of video games.

The message was very Bible-centered and solid. It was obvious to me that God is using this unique ministry to reach literally thousands for Jesus. Best of all, in the midst of all of the music styles they offered, there was no country music or blue-grass tent! AMEN!

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