I like Easter. If there is one holiday I look forward to Easter would be the one. It’s always on Sunday, you don’t have to spend hours upon hours wracking your brain looking for that special gift and the sports page actually contains sports and not ads from Circuit City. Easter is a beautiful holiday and in light of what’s happening with Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback Church; Easter is not as costly as having Christmas on a Friday! (source)
Did you read that link I gave? If you didn’t you should. Get a load of this;
BACKGROUND: The cause of our financial shortfall was NOT a management issue but simply by the way Christmas occurred in this year’s calendar. After 10 packed Christmas services, and with Christmas Day on Friday, many people were out of town or too tired to come back for weekend services, so the unusually low attendance created an unusually low offering. That is understandable.
What a bummer Christmas is for the mega churches with the mega budgets! It’s pretty amazing they had 10 services on Christmas Day, huh? It looks like the folks came for the show but didn’t want to part with their dough, which is understandable I guess. After all Christmas is an expensive holiday, right?
Rick Warren explains why the church apparently is 900,000 under budget for 2009 here. Did you see all the programs Saddleback offers for its members and the community at large? Good grief and God Bless Pastor Warren for having the desire to help those less fortunate, right?
Let’s take a look at some of the programs on offer;
- Saddleback Food Pantry- Your gifts are feeding 400 hurting families in our community each month. Over 2,000 different families received food assistance in 2009, thanks to your generosity and the help of over 250 volunteers.
- Breakfast Together & Homeless Ministry- Thousands of Saddleback volunteers are serving in the 6 locations hardest hit by poverty here south OC.
- Financial Coaching- With 10% of our congregation out of work due to the recession, this ministry exploded with growth in 2009.
- Cars Ministry- Received over 150 donated vehicles. Some were sold to pay for parts to refurbish the rest of the cars which were given to members struggling without transportation. All our mechanics volunteer their time.
I can honestly say I’ve never heard of a car ministry before but I guess it’s understandable. If you live in California and have no wheels you are out of luck.
Here’s a few more programs their giving pays for;
- Counseling- Your 230 certified Saddleback counselors provided over 20,000 free counseling sessions to our community this year! Training for new counselors start in January. The need is so great.
- Support Groups- 193 volunteers lead these specialized small groups that focus on acute needs. We support everything from Alzheimer’s and AIDS to Young Adults with Aspergers.
- Recovery- During the recession, attendance at Celebrate Recovery has grown 35% after 27,000 participated in our 8 week Life’s Healing Choices Campaign Experience. A new program for elementary kids, Celebrate Station, was launched. Over 12,000 other churches nationwide now use our Celebrate Recovery program.
- Prayer Garden- 6,720 people in crisis received warm, face-to-face attention and prayer through our Prayer Garden and Restoration Service. This does not include our counseling ministry.
I guess the prayer closet (Matthew 6:6) has been replaced with a prayer garden. I wonder what translation Pastor Warren uses to validate that one. Even The Message Bible doesn’t validate this type of ministry;
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
Lets look at a few more;
- Baptisms – 2803 people demonstrated their new life in Christ through baptism- the most in 30 years!
- Joining our Family – 4,026 attended Class 101 in 2009 – another 30 year record.
- Prison Ministry – CR Inside grew by 20 state representatives who are directing our work in jails, prisons & rehab facilities nationally. Every state will be covered by the end of 2010.
2803 baptisms! That’s incredible to me. What’s even more incredible is how everything seems to be by the numbers at Saddleback. I wonder how many people John the Baptist baptized in his day? For that matter I wonder if John the Baptist actually budgeted for such things.
Here’s a few more;
- A 5th Saddleback campus opened in Laguna Woods – Adding to our available services in San Clemente, Irvine, Corona, and Lake Forest. Our Lake Forest worship venues (Overdrive, Praise, Traditions, and others) continue to minister to tens of thousands of spiritually hungry people. 20 worship leaders have been mentored.
- Saddleback’s School of Music & Arts – 472 students took weekly lessons with our ten instructors. Our children’s choirs, involving hundreds of kids, did 20 outreach events in our community.
- Guitarists in God (GIG) Ministry – Over 50 guitarists volunteer to play at nursing homes, our motel ministry to the homeless, urban outreaches, and Bible studies on our campus and in homes. A new credentialing program will launch in 2010.
- Purpose Driven Radio – Began in 2009 on the Internet, offering 24 hour a day music, daily devotionals, children’s programming, and more. You can hear it HERE.
- Our Ohana Band & Hula Team – (Island music) serve the community as Saddleback ambassadors.
Have any of you listened to Purpose Driven Radio? I can honestly say that I haven’t and probably never will. The only Internet Radio I listen to is WFAN out of NYC…..I need my sports more then I need to hear “its not about you”…..
I’ve never heard of a Hula Team, have you? Well, I’ve heard of them just never seen it as a church program. I wonder if the hula girls are quoting Scripture while shaking their hips to the Island beat. Does an invite to the luau and complimentary lei come with every donation?
I think Christmas on Friday should be outlawed, don’t you? After all how could we live without those Hula Girls!!!!