American Church Tour Stop 1: Saddleback Church

Church: Saddleback Church, Lake Forest CA

Senior Pastor: Rick Warren

Date: Sunday 19th April 2015, 11am Service

America’s Pastor

There is famous pastor in the U.S. who is so influential that he has become known as “America’s Pastor.” He has the phone numbers of more than one U.S. President and more than a few entertainers you may have heard of. He is one of the best-selling authors of all time (writer of the New York Times best seller “The Purpose Driven Life”), and is invited to speak at conferences all around the world. His name is Rick Warren, and he is the pastor of one of America’s biggest churches, Saddleback Church.

Just an hour’s drive from where I’ve been staying in LA, I couldn’t think of a better church to begin my tour of American churches with than the one pastored by America’s Pastor (a title previously held by Billy Graham). When I looked up Saddleback Church on trusty Google maps, and found that it was located on none other than “Saddleback Parkway”, I immediately knew I was in for something… uncommon. Continue reading

Lachlan’s All-American Church Tour: Introduction

Announcement: For the next couple of months, this blog will turn into a travel blog. But not a pure travel blog.

About the same time that I decided to go on a two and a half month from to the U.S.A., I resolved that I would visit as many churches as I can while here.

I also decided to write about it.

I’m not sure that I could tell you the full extent of my motivations for embarking on this mission, or what I plan to learn or discover. Perhaps the best answer is simply, “Something.” I’ve always loved visiting churches because I want to observe the state of the wider Church, see what I’m missing every weekend around the block, see what other churches have that mine lacks, and vice versa – and of course, learn something new about God. These things all apply to my present pilgrimage, but there are also some specific reasons why I am interested in seeing the American church. Here is an incomplete attempt at outlining four of them:

  1. America is different to Australia. At least, so I’m told. Over the years I have come to understand that the U.S.A. just isn’t the same secular country as Australia. Both conceived as offshoots from Great Britain, Australia was a convict dump afterthought founded with no particular vision in mind, while America was a dream – a dream wedded to principles and ideologies deeply held by its Christian instigators. The outcome is that, while it has no official religion, it is still socially a deeply religious country, whose currency still has printed the words, “In God we trust,” and which has never had a non-churchgoing head of state. While it has also come along with some of the world’s most anti-Christian phenomena, the fact remains that the church is large and in many ways powerful in America. In other words, you can’t understand America’s culture without understanding her Church.

Continue reading