Rick Warren Biography

Founder of Saddleback Church

Rick Warren
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Pastor Rick Warren:

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, a Christian community that he and his wife began in their home in 1980, with just one other family. Today Saddleback is one of the most prominent churches in America with more than 20,000 members attending four campuses each week, reaching out through some 200 ministries. The well-known evangelical Christian leader rose to worldwide fame after publishing his wildly popular book, The Purpose Driven Life, in 2002. To date, the title has sold more than 30 million copies, making it the top selling hardcover book of all time.

Date of Birth

January 28, 1954.

Family & Home

Rick Warren was born in San Jose, California and raised as a Southern Baptist preacher's kid. Along with Billy Graham, he considers his late father to be one of the most important role models in his life. Also interesting to note, his great-grandfather and father-in-law were pastors as well. Rick has been married to his wife Kay (Elizabeth K. Warren) for more than 30 years. They have three adult children and three grandchildren and currently make their home in Orange County, California.

Education & Ministry

Warren graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from California Baptist University and earned a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary. He also holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.

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 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.

Today the church reports "one in nine people in the area call Saddleback their church home." Keeping ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, Saddleback does not identify itself as a Baptist church. Getting people connected is one of the main missions of the church, boasting "something for everyone" in their ministries.

Developed at Saddleback, Celebrate Recovery is now a widely known Christian ministry for people struggling with addictive behaviors. Based on eight principles found in the Beatitudes, this faith-centered approach to recovery has been implemented in churches across the U.S. and internationally.

Besides building a megachurch ministry, Warren has established the Purpose Driven Church Network, a massive global effort to train pastors in theology and practical ministry and establish purpose driven churches around the world. He has also created a website called Pastors.com to provide online sermons, tools, a newsletter, a forum community, and many other practical resources for pastors and ministry leaders.

Not afraid to think big, Rick and his wife have pursued global missions with a unique approach called The Peace Plan. Their solution involves mobilizing Christians around the world through outreaches to attack "the five global giants" of "extreme poverty, disease, spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, and illiteracy." The efforts include "promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation."

Speaking about his "purpose driven" success, in 2005 Warren told U.S. News and World Report, "It brought in a ton of money. The first thing we decided was that we wouldn't let it change our lifestyle one bit." Even after achieving notoriety and great prosperity, Warren and his family continued to live in the same home and drive the same vehicle. He said, "Next, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Then I added up all the church had paid me in the previous 25 years and I gave it back." Living on only 10% of their income, he and his wife began to give away the rest in a type of "reverse tithing" principle.

Demonstrating a model of integrity among Christian leaders, Rick Warren has managed to live out his convictions and stay committed to his family over the long haul of his life in ministry. Remaining humble and down-to-earth in the face of great success has earned him the respect of religious leaders and world leaders alike.


In addiction to The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren has written several popular Christian books which have been translated into some 50 languages.

  • The Purpose Driven Church (1995)
  • Answers to Life's Difficult Questions (1999)
  • The Purpose Driven Life (2002)
  • What on Earth Am I Here For? (2004)
  • God's Answers to Life's Difficult Questions (2006)
  • God's Power To Change Your Life (2006)
  • Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods (2006)
  • The Purpose of Christmas (2008)

Awards & Accomplishments

  • 2003 - "Gold Medallion Book Award" - Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
  • 2004 - "One of 15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most" - TIME Magazine
  • 2005 - "America's Top 25 Leaders" - U.S. News and World Report
  • 2005 - "100 Most Influential People in the World" - TIME Magazine
  • 2005 - "15 People Who Make America Great" - Newsweek Magazine
  • 2008 - Warren hosted the Civil Forum on the Presidency featuring both John McCain and Barack Obama in August, 2008.

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