What God Commands Us to Remember From the Past

Remember the Blessings

"Remember how the Lord your God has blessed you in everything that you have done. He has taken care of you as you wandered through this vast desert. He has been with you these forty years, and you have had everything you needed." Deut. 2:7 (TEV)

Remember the Miracles

"Be very careful never to forget what you have seen God doing for you. May His miracles have a deep and permanent effect upon your lives! Tell your children and your grandchildren about the glorious miracles He did." Deut. 4:9 (LB)

Remember the Tests

"Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would really obey His commands." Deut. 8:2 (NLT)

Remember the Lessons

"Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with Him. It was you, not your children, who had these experiences. You saw the Lord's greatness, His power, His might." Deut. 11:2 (TEV)

Remember the Leaders Who Led You

"Remember your leaders who spoke God's word to you. Think about how their lives turned out, and imitate their faith." Heb. 13:7 (GW)

Jesus: "I have sent you to harvest a crop you have not worked for. Other people have done the hard work, and now you have followed them in their work." John 4:38 (GW)


California Dreaming

Even before Saddleback was founded, the dream of creating a church to reach people who didn’t know Jesus was planted in the hearts of Rick and Kay. In their mid-20s they pack up their (few) belongings and drive to California from Texas. The church begins as a small gathering of people in the living room of their apartment. They send out 15,000 letters to the unchurched of the community to announce the start of something new. At the “dress-rehearsal” service on Palm Sunday, over 60 people show up, and five individuals give their lives to Christ! Rick presents his vision for this new church with the beginning words, “It is a dream …” On Easter Sunday, April 6, 1980, Rick teaches a sermon called “How to Experience Real Freedom.” Saddleback Valley Community Church is launched!

Pastor Rick and Kay launch Saddleback. The first dress rehearsal service has a 60 people in attendance and Pastor Rick shares the vision for the future of the church.

1971 - Rick's Call to Ministry

Rick, still in high school, feels God’s call to ministry. He begins preaching in revival meetings across California.

View Article

1980 - The Beginning of Saddleback

Pastor Rick mails 15,000 letter, personally addressed and stamped, to homes in the Saddleback Valley, inviting them to Saddleback's first service.

View Letter

1980 - The Beginning of a Miracle

During the dress rehearsal for Saddleback’s first service, Pastor Rick shares the God-inspired vision for the future of the church.

The Vision

Saddleback's Early Days

Watch this video, "The Church That Dared," and see the beginnings of Pastor Rick’s personal ministry and the early days of Saddleback Church. See how Saddleback became a church built on daring faith.

The Saddleback Vision

In 1980, God gave Pastor Rick a vision for the church and its future. Much of what was written 35 years ago has now come to pass.


Catching the Wave

The church grows quickly. The people who pitch in to set up and take down the chairs and equipment for the weekend services at Laguna Hills High School excitedly invite their family and friends to this warm, welcoming, place of worship. Serving together creates a deep sense of community. New families who move into the area look for a place to connect and find Saddleback. Pastor Rick’s messages are directed at the heart, the teachings are readily applicable to daily life, and the music is refreshingly contemporary. During this time Pastor Rick begins to formulate and implement “Purpose Driven,” the concept of basing one’s life on the five purposes of fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry, and evangelism. It is an exciting time as God begins blessing Saddleback Church.

As the church grows, Pastor Rick begins to formulate “Purpose Driven,” concept of basing one’s life on the five purposes of fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry, and evangelism.

1981 - The First Saddleback Small Group

Our church’s very first small group meets in Pastor Rick and Kay’s living room and these people became some of Saddleback’s very first members.


1981 - Sharing the Purposes

Pastor Rick writes that a healthy church is built on the five purposes found in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

View Purposes

1982 - Saddleback Values — The First Version

Pastor Rick creates an acrostic to help the church learn and communicate the values upon which Saddleback would be built.

View Values

1990 - On the Move

Without a permanent property of its own, Saddleback used over 70 different locations for worship, ministry, and meetings.

Take Quiz








Our Logo Grows with Us

As Saddleback Church evolves and grows throughout the years, our logo reflects those changes. Which era is your favorite?


Home at Last!

From day one, Saddleback’s people dreamed of having their own permanent property to call home. During this time, attendance rapidly increases and the church outgrows Laguna Hills High School. Saddleback takes a risk and moves nine miles away, across the freeway, to the newly opened Trabuco Hills High School. Would the people follow? Yes! The church grows even faster with the additional space, adding 5,000 to their number. Fellowship and ministry flourish and literally thousands come to Christ. But this era also tests Saddleback’s faith, trust in God, and perseverance in following his leading. The church sacrificially raises funds and tries to buy two different pieces of land but neither one is obtained. Through prayer, testing, and miracles, Saddleback is finally led to its current property in Lake Forest, CA. On December 13, 1992, the entire church marches from the high school to its new 72-acre home. Saddleback is truly “Home at Last!”

5,000 more people join the Saddleback family and members give sacrificially in order to buy the church’s first property. We are truly “Home at Last!”

1991 - Possess Our Land Campaign

After meeting in a high school gym for many years, it was time to own our own property! 467 families show incredible faith as they sacrificially give $3.5 million for our first property.

View Property

1991 - Time to Build Campaign

After meeting in a tent for many years, Saddleback launches the Time to Build campaign, and individuals and families show amazing generosity and sacrifice as they give towards building a permanent worship center.

Tag Yourself

1992 - Saddleback Finds a Permanent Home

6,000 people marched from Trabuco Hills High School across the street to our new, permanent location to celebrate an answer to years of prayer, searching, and sacrificial giving.



Building Lives Together

This is a time of building. Yes, the church builds a large tent, a Worship Center, a bridge, the Children’s Ministry Center, and more. But buildings are just the tools. Saddleback never forgets that the first and foremost task is building people — introducing them to Christ and his purpose for their lives. Saddleback builds people through the launch and growth of life-changing ministries like Celebrate Recovery®. The essence of our path for discipleship, The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven® Life books are published. Other churches are taught these lessons through seminars and the 40 Days of Purpose campaign. The children and youth ministries experience explosive growth, hundreds of small groups are launched, and The PEACE Plan is born (with a focus on the nation of Rwanda). Saddleback celebrates the health and growth, made possible through only God, at our 25th Anniversary at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.

The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven® Life books are published, hundreds of small groups are launched, the PEACE Plan is born and Celebrate Recovery is launched.

1993 - Celebrate Recovery Begins

Celebrate Recovery®, a biblically-based 12-step program, is launched to help individuals deal with their hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

Learn More

1995 - The Purpose Driven Church Book Published

Pastor Rick writes The Purpose Driven Church to help other pastors around the world build healthy churches of their own, and the book sells over 1 million copies.

Read Excerpt

2002 - The Purpose Driven Life Published

Pastor Rick publishes The Purpose Driven Life and it becomes the all-time best-selling book besides the Bible.

View All 3 Versions

2005 - First Anniversary Celebration at Angel Stadium

Saddleback celebrates 25 years of changed lives!

Enlarge Photo


Extending the Vision

Saddleback continues to build people. Lives are changed, thousands are baptized, and the church’s local and global missions bear fruit. But, Saddleback is always guided by the mission to reach “just one more for Jesus!” Through the sacrificial giving of its people Saddleback continues to extend its ministry by planting of nine Southern California and four international campuses. The church begins to transition to younger leadership to set the stage for continued growth, God willing, through the next decades. The church completes the task of sending missionaries to every country of the world and reemphasizes our vision and efforts to see a Bible, a believer, and a Body of Christ in every people group, no matter how remote, worldwide. The people of Saddleback have learned a lot on this journey. With these lessons from our past, the church is now, with daring faith prepared for the opportunities in the future.

Saddleback plants nine Southern California and four international campuses, sends missionaries to every country of the world and works to reach every remaining unengaged, unreached people group.

2006 - Saddleback's First Regional Campus

In order to reach a broader community, Saddleback plants its first regional campus in San Clemente.

Learn More

2010 - Missionaries go to Every Nation

Our church has sent over 24,000 members on mission to every country in the world. On November 4, 2010, Saddleback reached the very last country, Saint Kitts and Nevis, which is a small island east of Puerto Rico.

Saint Kitts

2013 - First International Campus Launches

With the vision of fulfilling the Great Commission and bringing the Good News to every people group, Saddleback plants its first international campus in Hong Kong.

View Locations


The Key To Miracles

Saddleback Church celebrates its 35th anniversary and looks forward to the future. Pastor Rick challenges members to live lives of faith that are bold, courageous, and powerful in order to usher in the next era of Saddleback and continue to reach those around them with the love of Jesus Christ.

Saddleback celebrates its 35th anniversary and looks forward to the future. Pastor Rick challenges members to live lives of daring faith.

Learn More
1 of 10


Your Score!
Share with friends!Post on Facebook