Church will host month of festivities for decade in the Spanish City by the Sea

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By Eric Heinz

From starting a church that met inside San Clemente High School seven years ago to moving into a permanent facility, Saddleback Church’s local branch turns 10 years old this month.

Campus Pastor Phil Shinners has been leading the congregation for about two years.

“About 10 years ago, our senior pastor Rick Warren and our elders started thinking maybe having a mega-campus to reach the whole county isn’t going to work,” Shinners said. “They started thinking about making little local churches that were all Saddleback Church. We say: ‘One church, many locations.’”

Shinners said achieving 10 years is a true milestone because they weren’t sure if it would catch on in the beginning; he said it’s always hard to tell if a congregation will grow. The congregation started at about 500 people in 2006 and has grown to more than 1,000 people, he said.

He said the way the church teaches is “down-to-earth” and practical.

[box] March 10-Year Celebrations

Worship takes place starting at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday at the church, 1311 Calle Batido in San Clemente. The church will host food, fun and games for families, music and more as well as building a work of art, after each March worship to celebrate their 10 years. The founding Pastor Rick Warren will be in attendance on Sunday, March 6 for the big kick-off celebration. On March 27, they will host an Easter celebration.[/box]

“I think part of what it means to be human is to wrestle with those questions; what are we doing here? What are we supposed to do with our lives and is there more to all these things that we can see and touch,” Shinners said. “I think our church really helps people to wrestle with those questions about what difference we can make. That’s one place the church shines, where we can ask good questions. It’s not just about saying here’s all the answers—I think good questions are better than easy answers.”

Worship sermons are given by Shinners but they make time to discuss the teachings afterward.

“I think the things we’re known for are Pastor Rick’s teachings; they’re really unique,” Shinners said. “He has the ability to take these broad and abstract concepts and make them applicable to your life. People tend to leave our services pretty uplifted and encouraged.”

Sermons always center on the teachings of the Bible and Jesus, but they also aim to give people things they can use to improve in their life.

Student ministries and working with families are also major components of the church. The student ministries offer more of a way for youth to get together on Sunday rather than a traditional classroom setting.

Shinners said the origins of the church’s denomination are from Southern Baptist but mostly its nondenominational.

“It’s not like traditional church; it’s something we want people to look forward to and make it a positive experience,” he said.

During worship sessions, Shinners said most of the teaching relates to broad, applicable issues people deal with on a day-to-day basis.

“One week, we may talk about money because that’s something that if you don’t have control over then it takes over your life,” he said. “We think God may care about that so we’ll talk about money one day or how to build a strong marriage or parenting.”

The San Clemente campus started at San Clemente High School and met on Sundays. After seven years, the branch was able to move into its current location in Talega. San Clemente’s church is the second-oldest branch of Saddleback. The main campus of Saddleback Church, located in Lake Forest, recently celebrated its 35th anniversary.

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