The southern California church led by well-known Pastor Rick Warren recently saw the largest number of new members and baptisms in its 30-year history.
In a three-and-a-half hour service March 28, Warren baptized 800 people and welcomed nearly 2,400 new members after its "C.L.A.S.S. 101" session. The class, which stands for "Christian Life and Service Seminars," helps participants understand God's plan and their purpose in the church.
Warren personally led the class for the first time in 10 years. More than 35,000 have attended since the church started.
"It's good to see God at work in so many people's lives," said Steven Tang, a leader of one of Warren's small groups in Anaheim, Calif.
Tang was among those baptized Sunday, along with his six group members.
"This is what the small group community is about and what Pastor Rick is always talking about. It's amazing to be able to live and participate in the reality of it," he added.
The large number of new members and baptisms comes as the country continues to struggle economically. Warren explained that it's times like these that the church was meant for.
"The Bible says the church is the support and foundation of the truth," he said.
"If you don't have a good support and a good foundation when an earthquake comes around, your house will collapse. The same is true of every area of life," Warren added. "If you don't have the correct foundation and support for finances, relationships and your marriage, it will all collapse"
The C.L.A.S.S. 101 session was specific to Saddleback, but Warren also emphasized the need for everyone to find a church they can grow in.
"A Christian without a church home is an orphan," he said. "We aren't in competition with any church. We want every church to grow."
Sources: Baptist Press, Christian News Wire