Pastor Rick Warren
Pastor Rick Warren was born in San Jose, California, the son of Jimmy and Dot Warren. His father was a Baptist minister, his mother a high-school librarian. He was raised in Ukiah, California, and graduated from Ukiah High School in 1972, where he founded the first Christian club on the school’s campus, The Fishers of Men Club. His sister, Chaundel, is married to Saddleback pastor Tom Holladay. His brother, Jim C. Warren, died in 2007.
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.
Pastor 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%.
Pastor 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.
Innovations in Ministry
Throughout his 35 years as the pastor of Saddleback Church, the congregation has been on the forefront of a number of ministry innovations. Much of these stem from Warren’s commitment to become a “teaching church”, in which Warren and his staff create and develop ministries that become models for other churches worldwide. In his book The Purpose Driven Church, Warren suggested that the church’s youth and lack of previous traditions have allowed it to experiment more than most. Many of these innovations have centered upon Warren’s long-standing belief that the local church should be the vehicle for personal and community transformation. These innovations (or improvements upon the innovations of others) have included Saddleback’s Celebrate Recovery ministry, the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, its SHAPE process for identifying and deploying lay volunteers, orphan care, and the C.L.A.S.S. structure of church assimilation.