Pastor Rick Warren has announced he will retire from Saddleback Church, but assured his congregants that he and his wife will remain active in the mega-church they founded.
Warren, 67, told his congregants on Sunday the church’s elders will lead the search for a new pastor. There is no timetable, Warren assured Saddleback members.
In 1980, when Warren said he was “barely 26 years old,” he announced to Saddleback members at its founding that he would pledge 40 years of his life leading the congregation.
“It was my way of saying you don’t have to worry about me leaving when times get tough,” Warren said. “I kept that promise.”
As 2020 approached, Warren and his wife Kay went on a “prayerful retreat” to ruminate on what he should do and the couple decided then to stay on as leaders of the congregation, Warren said. Weeks later came the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, he said.
“In hindsight I can see why God didn’t want me to stand down three weeks before the pandemic,” Warren said.
But “as we see the light at the end of the tunnel of COVID pandemic now is the time to start looking for” a successor, Warren said.
Warren said the church’s leadership is “starting with no preconceptions” on the next pastor and will search in and outside of Saddleback for a new pastor, Warren said.
The number one qualification is “somebody who will love you as much as I love you, somebody who will sacrifice their life for you as a good shepherd,” Warren said.
Warren said he intends to “take a less visible role as a founding pastor,” and assured his congregation, “we are not leaving the church.”
Warren said that delivering fewer sermons would allow him to spend more time “encouraging leaders at each of our campuses.”