Sunday Journey Series: at Saddleback Church
Written by The Ministry of Jesus Christ on June 20, 2021
I’m continuing my series on Sunday Journeys and in some cases catching up, as a couple of these are from before the pandemic. Below is are some highlights from Saddleback Church.
Visiting Saddleback Church is always a fascinating experience. I preached there again on March 21, the Sunday before Palm Sunday, which was actually the last week they met online. So preaching, then, doesn’t make a particularly exciting blog post because basically, you preach in the studio. However, you are able to preach to perhaps over 100,000 people over the weekend services.
Now saddleback has moved back in person, though outside and with masks. However, in 2019, I had the privilege of preaching at Saddleback in what I now call the “before time” as in, before COVID.
There are lots of things that are always astounding at Saddleback and I’m thankful for the privilege to preach there a few times each year. The technology at Saddleback is amazing to me though I recognize it is out of reach for so many churches. But it is incredible how these volunteers have taken the time to learn the technology required to bring forth the kind of excellent streaming and other accessible resources the church has. Here is a picture of their technology.
Here are a couple of pictures from the back of the stage where that week they had a choir singing, you can actually see some of the members. No robes but certainly a choir and a full band that participated in the worship.
What particularly stood out was how they handled the youth service. They empowered what were clearly high schoolers to actually get up to do the announcements, welcome people, and more.
What made it particularly interesting to me was the amount of time I could tell that the adult volunteers had put in. They helped the student volunteers to both be confident but also be well prepared. They didn’t just get up and stumble through the announcements; they were confident, prepared, and reflected the typical excellence that is found at Saddleback. So, it was encouraging, inspiring even to see how they did those things.
For those of you that have been there, you know that Saddleback has what is a somewhat odd-shaped building in that there is a floor and then are bleachers in the back. What’s interesting right now in mid-2021 is that the building is actually closed. They are putting in large slats for where the windows are now so that they can functionally make this open space, yes, during the pandemic but beyond that to open the space up when the weather is nice. And of course, the weather is always nice in southern California.
So, kudos to Rick Warren and the staff and team at Saddleback for actually putting teenagers upfront. For not only empowering them but I think most importantly, taking the time to make sure everything goes well, and they feel prepared for that leadership.
Ed Stetzer is professor and dean at Wheaton College, where he also serves as executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. The Exchange team contributed to this article.
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