Rick Warren

Clergyman / Evangelist

Born: 28 January 1954
Birthplace: San Jose, California
Best known as: "Purpose-driven" pastor and author
Megachurch pastor Rick Warren appeared on many lists of top evangelical Christian leaders in the early 21st century, aided by the popularity of his books, The Purpose Driven Church (1995) and the best-selling The Purpose Driven Life (2002). A Southern Baptist preacher's kid fresh out of a Texas seminary, Warren believed God was calling him to move to booming Orange County, Calif., south of Los Angeles, to start a church. He and his wife held the church's first meeting in their living room in 1979, with one other family. Saddleback Valley Community Church drew 206 people to its first public service in 1980 and in 25 years had grown into the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. His books, studied across denominational lines, encouraged people and churches to discern and be motivated by God's purpose for them, as opposed to guilt, anger, fear, materialism, tradition, finances, programs, buildings, and so forth. By 2005, he was publicly urging evangelicals to get involved in solving world problems, including poverty and AIDS.
Extra credit: Warren and his wife, Kay, have three children... His father, father-in-law, and great-grandfather all were pastors... His semi-autobiographical 1995 book includes an account of his promise to God that "I'd give my entire life to pastoring a single church if that was his will for me." This occurred at the 1973 California Baptist Convention in San Francisco, where W.A. Criswell of First Baptist Church, Dallas, personally prayed for him... Warren is a graduate of California Baptist College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, with a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.

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