Saddleback looking for local church plant leaders

Saddleback looking for local church plant leaders

During my recent visit to Saddleback church I met some of the team responsible for their Global Church planting initiative. I really enjoyed spending time with the guys there – they seem like really stand up guys with a heart for evangelism and mission. They shared with me the PEACE plan vision to plant churches in 12 major cities worldwide. One of these cities is London. We chatted frankly about the opportunities and challenges of Saddleback planting churches into some of the world’s “megacities.” They were adamant that they don’t want to airdrop in a franchise model of church but to plant locally led, contextually sensitive church plants. I also talked with them about the Saddleback brand attracting people away from other churches but they were keen to express that they are seeking to reach-out to not-yet-Christians. I explained that I am both excited and nervous about them planting. On the one hand in London for example there are more than enough churches already and there should be ways to bless and encourage existing churches rather than planting yet more. But on the other hand London is a city with a population of larger than many countries and it is far from being a reached city and so we need all the help we can get. I am hoping there will be plenty of opportunities for Rick Warren’s fantastic gifts and skills to bless many church leaders in London beyond the plant they are hoping to start this year. They are definitely trying to contextualise and this is behind the fact that they are looking for a UK leader for their new church plant – details are below. The team are planning to make a lot of visits to London and are expressing a real keenness to talk with local leaders before they plant anywhere.

For the right person this could be an amazing opportunity.

Saddleback Church

Global Leadership Search

Do you want to help plant and lead one of the 12 Saddleback Churches we’re planting around the world in 2012? If so, we could use your help in these cities:


Mexico City Buenos Aires Freetown Johannesburg

Berlin London Moscow Amman

Manila Tokyo Hong Kong Bangalore


If you haven’t seen Pastor Rick present the 12 Cities Initiative, watch it here.


Saddleback Church is seeking teams of two to three leaders to plant a Saddleback Church in these 12 cities. We are looking for lead pastors, associate pastors, worship leaders, and children’s leaders. The churches will target spiritually lost people in urban areas.


These churches are being established and resourced for two purposes:

1. Reach lost people in each of the cities

2. Serve as base camps for equipping other churches to work together in reaching the 3,800 unreached and unengaged people groups in the world.

Leaders selected to establish these “gateway” churches must be:


  • Vibrant, mature, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ that is evident to the people around them


  • Able to cast vision, gather people in pursuit of a cause, and effectively delegate and utilize the gifts of others


  • Strongly self-motivated entrepreneurial spirit that is resilient in the face of challenges and able to quickly and flexibly adapt to unforeseen circumstances


  • Skills in public communication


  • Heart for spiritually lost people evidenced by active personal evangelism


  • Full agreement with the theology and philosophy of Saddleback Church (see here), the Purpose Driven model, and the PEACE Plan


  • Personal experience and knowledge of the culture including fluency in both English and the primary language of the city as well as eligibility to reside in country


If you are interested in applying for a leadership position with one of the city churches, apply here.

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

What do you think?

There’s been a very interesting to this post since it went up on Saturday – would love to gauge your opinion – here is an anonymous poll – sadly only the first 200 respondents count.


27 thoughts on “Saddleback looking for local church plant leaders

  1. Pat Joy says:

    Instead of planting new churches, why can’t they fill up the ones that already exist.

    1. Jon Rogers says:

      I suppose they think everyone else is not doing it quite right, or that they can add something to the “marketplace”.
      Here’s the question for me, though: should ‘vision’ come first, or or people with a calling? I don’t have a problem with churches ‘hiring’ in leaders, but this sounds to me like setting up a franchise. I’m not sure sure I like that model for church very much, it’s subtly different to the traditional missionary setup in a more commercial way.

      1. Pat Joy says:

        I have to agree with you on that point Jon. We often hear over here people saying that they might start going to this, that or the other church, because the new leader has been sent out by such and such a leader.

        As my husband has just whispered in my ear, ‘Find out what the local community wants and needs first, then start from there.’

  2. Bill says:

    Sounds really interesting, I’m a bit mixed though. On one hand we need good churches that have a drive to meet local needs, but then we do have a number of half-empty buildings. But maybe that is more a reflection of the leaders. It’s a tough one to call.

    1. Pat Joy says:

      I, like you Bill, see the half empty churches over here, then learn of a new one being opened as a church plant. Why, fill up the ones that already exist first, then if you need new ones open new ones. Our own church is half empty most of the time. We’re anglican, but can’t get a full time priest willing to come out to Ukraine, so the church council runs it themselves. None of us have any training, but we have learned as we go along. We do often get new people in, but we are a transient church, people who are here on business or holiday for a few weeks, but we keep trying and are gradually building up our congregation. At least half our congregation are Ukrainian, the rest of us are British, American and occasionally Australian.

  3. Victor says:

    What about Nigeria?!

  4. Joanne Barlow says:

    Very mixed feelings about this and not just about the London idea. I’ve been visiting an excellent Filipino “mega church” in Manila (CCF Christ’s Commission fellowship which is growing and planting churches in all parts of Metro Manila and the rest of the country. I am not normally a fan of mega-church but this seems to be really solid and all of the members are actively encourages to be part of a D12 group (Discipleship group of 12 people).

    They are completing a massive building project and that always worried me but what really impressed me was their liaison with the local council to see how they could help meet the community needs of their new location. In addition they are training people to go as missionaries to neighbouring countries.

    I don’t want to judge any of the people in Saddleback nor do I feel qualified to know if this is how God will cause a new work of his Spirit in the 12 megacities they have chosen, however I have an uncomfortable feeling they could do more working in partnership with existing churches or focus their efforts in areas where there are very few churches, most of the choices of cities already have a lot of churches.

    1. krishkandiah says:

      thanks Jo – good to hear from you. Great to hear about the church in Manilla.
      I got in touch with Saddleback because I was concerned about all the things you mention.
      I can only take them at their word that they want to consult and i am trying to help them make the necessary connections so that they can do just that.
      I guess its always going to be up to them how far they take it.

      As I said to them there are a lot of churches in London – but it is also true we are barely scratching the surface when it comes to reaching London.

      1. Colin says:

        I have some experience in church planting in a different cultural context. What I believe Gods vision to be is that he wants to form relationships with people, not give yet another branded worship experience (whatever that is).
        UK needs to mobilise Prayers, Jesus Sharing People and genuine Pastoral Carers. What we find when scratching beneath societies surface is a whole lot of hurts, hang-ups and habits that people can’t seem to get free from.
        A church service often fails in this respect on its own but when combined with an inclusive means of helping people it can bring great joy.

      2. Joanne Barlow says:

        Cheers Krish, as you say you can only trust their hearts but I’d have felt more comfortable if the job description didn’t include full commitment to the Purpose Driven model, it feels just a little cultish (and I say that with much hesitation can’t think of a better word right now) like the Bible + X, especially after hearing about your 2 minute slot to meet Rick Warren.

        Left thinking of some lyrics of Casting Crowns “What this World needs”

        “People aren’t confused by the gospel
        They’re confused by us
        Jesus is the only way to God
        But we are not the only way to Jesus

        This world doesn’t need my tie, my hoodie
        My denomination or my translation of the Bible
        They just need Jesus
        We can be passionate about what we believe

        But we can’t strap ourselves to the gospel
        ‘Cause we’re slowing it down
        Jesus is going to save the world
        But maybe the best thing we can do
        Is just get out of the way”

        But I guess it’s easy to be critical. I hope those who lead this venture have a gentle and sensitive spirit and perhaps God’s spirit will pour through it.

  5. Hi Krish,
    Do you know where they intend to plant in London? Some of the most deprived areas and estates have far lower levels of Christian presence.

  6. Chris Wilson says:

    I think the word “other” sums up how I feel very nicely. I am pleased that there are Christians passionate about reaching those who don’t know Christ. I am pleased they want to equip other churches more. I am sure they will do both of the things about.
    However, I am also certain that most of their growth will come from people who are already Christians and this will probably harm the local churches more than they gain out from them.
    However, God knows better than I. He works all things for his glory. If they were genuinely called by God to do this, who am I to argue with that?

  7. Michael Hall says:

    This is an interesting article from Tim Keller that attempts to answer common objections to church planting such as “we already have enough churches” etc:

  8. rob stevens says:

    Hoping they chose to reach the most deprived / ethnically parts of London otherwise there just repeating what the usual suspects are doing

  9. I am a keen advocate of creating new forms of church that will reach the 94% of the UK population that doesn’t connect with church in a meaningful way, but my experience of the majority of current ‘church planting’ is that it simply reproduces that which is already only working in limited ways. My experience is also that most church planting in the UK seems to target the most churched communities which are often the most well-off and middle-class.

    If Saddleback come from the States (where church attendance is around 40%) to London and create forms of church that look nothing like existing forms of churches here in the UK (which obviously are not working all that well!), go to the least churched communities in our capital, prioritise the poor and target readers of The Sun (our biggest selling newspaper) … then I will be pleasantly surprised and my cynicism will melt away! Bring on the reverse missionaries 🙂

  10. Anthony Milgate says:

    I think it’s great that saddleback want to plant in London. I have no idea how it could make you ‘angry’ or ‘depressed’.

    If you wanted to light something up, you would get more light fittings. If we want to light this city of ours up with the reflected glory of Jesus we need as many places for people to plug in and shine away…

    There are thousands and thousands of people in London who are desperately in need of hope and light in their darkness. The church (us) functioning properly will bring that by showing the way, which is Jesus and the hope of salvation which is found in him.

    Maybe I’m being naive, but I really don’t get why there’s even any question over this being a good thing…

    1. Pat Joy says:

      Yes, Anthony, shine a light, but what’s wrong with using the churches that are already there. Help them to know how to get the people in and listening, not plant another church, it’s not needed. As I’ve said before, we just need to fill the churches that are already in these cities.

      1. Anthony Milgate says:

        I hear what you’re saying. But, what’s wrong with using the churches that are already there as well? There’s no problem with partnering with other churches, we are all one after all. I don’t think Saddleback are coming with some new amazing formula or ‘method’ for filling churches. They want to plant a church because they have a passion to see people come to know Jesus and discover the freedom that’s available to all who believe. If the churches that are already in London have a heart for that too, if they live out the great commission, if they preach the Gospel and not any other agenda and if they’re open to the work of the Holy Spirit, then they won’t be able to stop themselves from growing.

        People are drawn to passion and joy, both of which we should all have because of the Grace given to us by the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross. If the empty churches in London (and anywhere else come-to-that) want to see growth they simply need to surrender to the will of God and watch what happens. Jesus will build his church, not us.

        There are more than enough people in London to fill every church more than twice over, but the workers are few, so get some more workers in. And yes, they could join other churches that are already doing the stuff, but people like different ‘flavours’ and styles of church. I love what some churches are doing but know I wouldn’t find my home in them. That doesn’t mean that what they’re doing is wrong, it just means it’s not by bag. I live in an area of London that has two fairly big established churches, one a Baptist church and the other a CofE. I love those churches and I love what they do, but I know that the church I’m a member of does things differently – not better, just different. We also get together and do various forms of outreach to the town. If another church came along and planted in our town, I honestly think it would be awesome, because it would mean that we would have another bunch of people to partner with… strength in numbers and all that!

        As I said before, maybe I’m being naïve, but I’m honestly struggling to see how this is a problem. If another group like Vineyard, New Frontiers, or a CofE church like HTB wanted to plant another church in London, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation. Our focus should be on seeing lives changes through people coming to know Jesus, not on growing churches. So I fear that it’s slightly disingenuous to be concerned because of the effect it may have on existing churches, when we should be excited about the effect that adding more disciple makers will have on the lives of people who don’t know Jesus, yet!

  11. Michael Hall says:

    lets not forget that some (not all) of the churches that are already exist have falling numbers for a reason. In some cases they would be unwilling to change or even be “filled” up with people who aren’t the same as them. Filling up the churches that already exist is not as simple as it sounds.

    Also, I don’t know that we could say that there are enough existing churches. If every church in my town (Hartlepool – so obviously a lot different to London) had 500 people in it then that would only be about 1% of the population in church! So, while existing churches should not be forgotten, I don’t think that we do have enough churches.

    Having said that, I agree with the comments about needing to target unchurched areas.

  12. Murray says:

    Want to become a franchisee church planter?

    Zwinglian inerrantists with a passion for male-oriented language apply here…

  13. Joy says:

    I am so excited about this project. Surely saddleback can reach us many aspects of reaching out. Please keep us posted with the progress. God bless

  14. Roda says:

    I feel there is a need for a model like Saddleback’s in London. I agree that there are lots of churches in London, but a few have a model that targets the un-churched and takes them from one level to the other in their christian walk until they themselves become actively involved in the work of the ministry.

    I also believe that the coming of Saddleback to London is going to strengthen the body of Christ especially in reaching the White population in London. Saddleback’s approach (from what I have read about them)does not target Christians, it targets the unsaved, but they work with Churches especially in training.

    Lord thank you for their vision. thank you also for already established churches in London. There is so much more to do. There are many more unsaved – thank you sending more labourers to the London field.

  15. I am very much excited to meet saddleback my ministry is praying hard that God should touch your heart to bring the project to us in Ghana here or allowing us to be your members. please kindly reach us as many are aspects of reaching out. Remember The Grace Hour Ministry International Ghana and its members, we need your help.
    Members in my church and myself are looking forward to hear from about how we can be come a member of saddleback in Ghana here, because the group have a visions to the world. If Mafi Kumase in the Volta Region of Ghana, can benefit from your projects, the whole country will be very happy because Ghanaians are ready to do the work of God but no helper.
    Keeping The Faith.
    Rev. Prophet Stephen Gbeve.
    ( FOUNDER ).

  16. M.M. says:

    You need to talk to people who have been chewed up and spit out of Saddleback’s Church. It sounds awesome but the reality is not a Biblically based church. It’s a church based on Rick’s formula’s and philosophy of how to make a big church. These are people who are building into their own network of power and influence, not into the kingdom of God.

    Ask yourself this? Do the Purpose Driven formulas taught in the church matching the word of God? Is the Great Commission passe and do we need Rick’s PEACE plan instead? Why are Saddleback members who do not agree with their formulas and want to focus on following the word of God asked to leave the church? Ask yourself a lot of questions before you invest your life and money in this group. This group is about BIG money. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you direction. You are going to need it if you get involved.

  17. John says:

    As someone who has commenced this application process what coming evident is creating local church, in the local context. Having led and planted congregations I am impressed with Saddleback’s vision and having studied in London found certain British churches with the view ‘one size fits all’ hard to fit into…even if I am unsuccessful in the process I certainly will be praying for the success of Saddleback London.

  18. Gerald says:

    Replanting and Church planting are both key. Ultimately the gospel has to be at the centre of any church for it to flourish and be healthy.

    This is a good thing that I hope will be a wake up call for us in the UK to be serious for the gospel. That like Paul we would say, I am not ashamed of the gospel.

    Lets role our sleeves up and get out the trenches. Thanks for the post.

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