LAKE FOREST, Calif. (Christian Examiner) — Saddleback Church in Southern California, founded by best-selling author Pastor Rick Warren, is hoping to reach 50,000 people through a massive multi-campus Easter celebration this coming weekend.
Warren will deliver the Easter sermons for all 57 services offered at 16 campuses, including 10 locations in Southern California, as well as international gatherings in Berlin, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, and South Manila.
Those who cannot attend a service are encouraged to view one through the online campus.
The first service will take place at the church's main campus in Lake Forest tonight, and Warren's sermon will then be broadcasted to all other locations throughout the weekend.
Nebai Cherrick, the marketing coordinator at Saddleback, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that the goal of the megachurch is to reach 50,000 people over Easter weekend.
In addition to the Easter services, several of Saddleback's campuses are offering a variety of activities depending on the location.
OUTDOOR SERVICE, EGG HUNT
One of the services on Sunday at the Lake Forest location will include a gathering outside so congregants may watch the "sunrise outdoors on Easter morning as you enjoy music and an inspiring message."
At the Aliso Viejo campus, children will be invited to participate in an Easter Egg hunt following service on Sunday at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m, while at the Los Angeles campus, additional fun activities will be offered, including a photo booth, bounce house, cotton candy, popcorn machines, and snow cones.
At the church's Rancho Capistrano location, congregants are invited to attend a free, 30-minute "Journey with Jesus" guided tour this Saturday, where they may view Christ's death and resurrection through a series of art installations, beginning with His annointing and ending with resurrection.
Cherrick tells CP that as is typical of Easter Sunday worship services, attendees will be invited to give their lives to Jesus during the service, and baptisms will be held immediately after.
The Saddleback worship band has also recently released a new EP titled "First," the music from which will be performed live by each campuses' own worship band over the weekend.
NEW SERMON SERIES
Warren is expected to launch his new "Miracle of Mercy" series this Easter, a new sermon series that he says may be the "most important, life-changing series he's ever taught."
As stated on the Saddleback website, the new series seeks to show Christians "how to receive God's mercy and reflect his mercy to others."
"God's number one characteristic throughout the Bible is mercy. His mercy heals broken hearts, reconciles relationships, restores forgotten dreams, and refreshes tired souls. It's the cure to every insecurity, worry, and fear," the website says.
Warren also wrote a special pre-Easter message posted to Saddleback's website that discusses the personal importance of his new series.
"Do you ever find yourself discouraged, or depressed, or defeated or maybe even devastated by the circumstances in your life? If so, let me take 90 seconds to encourage you about the pathway, the hope, the change, and the transformation that I've found in the Easter story of the Resurrection of Jesus," he says in the video.
Warren goes on to say that the Easter season has special significance in his own life because three years ago, his youngest son, Matthew, committed suicide five days after Easter Sunday.
The pastor says it is through God's mercy that he and his wife, Kay, along with their family, have been able to persevere through their suffering following Matthew's death.
Warren adds that in light of this mercy, he will be introducing his new series, saying that Easter Sunday represents a day of "hope, joy and victory," adding that the only way Christians will deal with their days of pain and suffering is through God's mercy.
"When you come to Saddleback you'll find a welcome hand, a warm greeting and smile, unconditional love no matter who you are, and the message of God's mercy, and that's going to strengthen you, it's going to encourage you, and it's going to transform your life," Warren says.
This article first published in Christian Post and is used with permission.