California, USA – This year, when churches have “gone dark” due to forced closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems more than ever of paramount importance the people of faith come “together” to worship and otherwise spiritually inform and strengthen each other. To that end, Pastor Rick and Kay Warren are inviting all to worship globally by accessing Pastor Rick’s pre-recorded Easter segment with message “Expecting a Resurrection When Life Falls Apart.”
For forty years, Pastor Rick and his wife have shepherded Saddleback Church, a Christian non-denominational congregation located in Southern California. Their dream had been, initially, “to plant a church for people who didn’t like church.” Fast-forward to their thriving congregation of some 200 different ministries…
While they’ve mastered leading and growing the flock of God’s people, Pastor Rick, Kay, and their team have also mastered the use of technology- a very good thing at this particular time in our world. For years they have broadcast their uplifting services via the internet to be seen upon demand at any viewer’s convenience.
Saddleback has also mastered the art of gathering people into small groups, a model that imitates the kind of care and intimacy demonstrated by the Early Church. In fact, Saddleback boasts over 9,000 small groups, some of these even existing “virtually” thanks to the Internet.
Pastor Rick has also been “early in” on strengthening and supporting religious leaders. In fact, he began gathering local pastors pre-Holy Week each year at a prayer breakfast, initially, to give religious leaders a “chance to get to know one another.” The first gathering was comprised only of people in the city. It expanded to include all of Southern California (that’s five counties and about 20 million people). Then, this year, it was planned to be expanded to include all 58 counties in the State of California.
But then something happened as Pastor Rick was beginning preparations for this gathering- the novel coronavirus pandemic hit. Pastor Rick began to get calls and texts from pastors all around the world who were discouraged because they were barred from meeting and holding worship due to the COVID-19 situation. So this year, on April 6, 2020 this gathering included pastors from all over the world, “from every stream of denomination,” as Pastor Rick puts it, coming together to focus, “without our ‘distinctives,’”and “to celebrate our one love for our risen savior, Jesus Christ.”
The global pastoral gathering included group prayer in six specific, very important areas of healing for our world, and these areas were uniquely presented by a religious leader and spouse from each of six continents:
- Prayer “for those who are anxious and fearful due to COVID-19.” Pastor T. D. Jakes (The Potter’s House, Atlanta), who also reminds that there is an increase in domestic violence at this time, warning clergy to be on the look-out, no matter if things seem “just fine.”
- Prayer “for the health care professionals who are risking their lives to save others.” Pastor Carlito and Laila Paes of South America (Igreja da Cidade.
- Prayer “for those who have suffered financial loss due to COVID-19,” Pastor Tony and Mei Yeo of Asia (Covenant Evangelical Free Church)
- Prayer “that the Church will be a light to all nations,” Pastor Brian Houston of Australia (Hillsong Church)
- Prayer “for the Holy Spirit to fill our pastors and ministry leaders as they prepare to share the hope of Christ this Easter,” Pastor Nicky and Pippa Gumbel of Europe (Holy Trinity Brompton)
- Prayer “for spiritual revival to spread during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Archbishop Laurent Mbanda of Africa (Anglican Church)
Pastor Rick’s Easter message this year includes all of the fruits from the global pastoral prayer gathering. His message of hope and faith inspires, and the uplifting songs offered by the amazing Saddleback performing artists can prompt a song (or a shout) from anyone. In the introduction to his service, Pastor Rick welcomes those viewers who have never entered into a Christian church before, congratulating them for, if nothing else, just visiting because their “curiosity is piqued.” His message of welcome is unmistakable.
“I’m here to tell you,” Pastor Rick says, “that while we aren’t able to assemble, the resurrection of Jesus Christ will still be celebrated everywhere in hearts and homes…2.3 billion believers! That’s one of every three people on the planet.”
Will one of those celebrating be you?
If you’re a Believer and your church was closed this Easter, go to the Saddleback Church site and be refreshed.
If you’re a Believer and you’ve already “been to” church for Easter, virtually, go and get some more good worship.
And if you’ve never set foot inside a church before, and it’s Easter Week and your curiosity “has been piqued,” too, now’s a great opportunity to experience it on your own terms.
Grab a coffee, pull up a chair, and put up your feet. Go and SEEK now.