Pastor Rick Warren returns to the pulpit at Saddleback Church after a 16-week sabbatical. He and wife Kay and family and extended family and church family and God’s family have shared an agonizing experience as we’re grieved together over the loss of his son during the week after Easter. I write this blog post on my 3rd time watching the poignant message that Pastor Rick and Kay shared, very personally and powerfully. As Pastor Rick opened his message, he introduced that he with Kay will be comforting others with the comfort we’ve been given (for this new season of their anointed ministry), offered words of thanks, and then proceeded to unpack the words of comfort from 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 about how to get through what you’re going through. You’ll be able to watch the video of this message all week at saddleback.com/online and on-demand at saddleback.com
For a historical occasion like this, I had to be there for the very first time in person (Pastor Rick preaches 5 times every weekend at Saddleback’s Lake Forest campus) and sat in the 10th row front and center. We arrived for the Saturday 4:30pm Saturday service 90 minutes early, and over 100 people were in the auditorium already, too, and it was at full capacity 30+ minutes before start time. 3 other tents accommodated overflow at Lake Forest, and those got filled too. What an emotional experience for all. There’s no one like Rick Warren in our generation, as God has gifted him uniquely with talents and opportunities, unparalleled influence and impact far beyond its church walls, imprinted on American evangelicalism, and on pace for shaping global Christianity as he mobilizes local churches everywhere to go to the final frontier of reaching the unreached unengaged people groups with the hope of the Gospel. cf. Rick Warren’s Final Frontier: Saddleback wants to bring the gospel to the world’s 3,400 unengaged people groups. Why it just might work.
Mainstream media circulated the Associated Press article, while a handful of local mainstream media made mentions of this event. Plus, these exceptional articles:
- Rick Warren Preaches First Sermon Since His Son’s Suicide— Almost four months after their son committed suicide, Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay addressed their congregation for the first time, promising to remove the stigma of mental illness from the church (Time)
- Why This Rabbi Went to Church Last Sunday (Huffington Post) – Rabbi David Wolpe, Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, resolved to go to Saddleback Church for Rick Warren’s return
- Record Crowd Sees Warren Emotional, Fired Up–The pastor of Saddleback Church offers a revealing glimpse into his son’s death and discusses the means to get through loss, promises to remove the stigma of mental illness. (Lake Forest Patch)
- Vow to Remove Stigma of Mental Illness, Begin Six-Part Series on “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” (Press Release)
- After son’s suicide and 16 week absence, Pastor Rick Warren returns to pulpit (updated) (89.3 KPCC)
- Rick, Kay Warren Give Message of Hope During First Sermon Back Since Son’s Death–Saddleback Church Founders Pledge to Eliminate Stigma Attached to Mental Illness (Christian Post)
- #video Pastor Rick Warren Addresses Son’s Suicide in Sermon – Steve Kuzj Reports (KTLA 5)
- #video Pastor Rick Warren Returns to Pulpit First Time Since Son’s Suicide (ABC News)
- #video Rick Warren Returns To Pulpit 16 Weeks After Son’s Death (CBSLA.com)
Highlights of the chatter on social media at http://storify.com/djchuang/rick-warren-returns-for-a-new-season-of-ministry ; and below that is the photo that @RickWarren shared on his own social media feeds.