Warren was born in San Jose, California, in 1954, the son of Jimmy and Dot Warren. His father was a Baptist minister, his mother a high school librarian. Warren has a sister (Chaundel, who is married to Saddleback pastor Tom Holladay) and had a brother (Jim C. Warren, who died in 2007). He was raised in Ukiah, California and graduated from Ukiah High School in 1972.
Warren was born in San Jose, California, in 1954, the son of Jimmy and Dot Warren. His father was a Baptist minister, his mother a high school librarian. Warren has a sister (Chaundel, who is married to Saddleback pastor Tom Holladay) and had a brother (Jim C. Warren, who died in 2007). He was raised in Ukiah, California and graduated from Ukiah High School in 1972. Warren earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from California Baptist University in Riverside, his Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1979) in Fort Worth, Texas, and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.[citations needed] According to Warren, his call to full-time ministry came as a 19-year-old student at California Baptist when, in November 1973, Warren and a friend skipped out on classes and drove 350 miles to hear W. A. Criswell preach at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco. Rick Warren stood in line to shake hands with Criswell afterward. â€œ When my turn finally arrived, something unexpected happened. Criswell looked at me with kind, loving eyes and said, quite emphatically, â€œYoung man, I feel led to lay hands on you and pray for you!â€ He placed his hands on my head and prayed: â€œFather, I ask that you give this young preacher a double portion of your Spirit. May the church he pastors grow to twice the size of the Dallas church. Bless him greatly, O Lord.â€ â€ Saddleback's first public service was held on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1980, with two hundred people in attendance at the Laguna Hills High School Theater. Warren's church growth methods led to rapid growth. The church has used nearly eighty different facilities in its 28-year history. Saddleback did not build its first permanent building until it had 10,000 weekly attenders. When the current Lake Forest campus was purchased in the early 1990's, a 2,300 seat plastic tent was used for worship services for several years, with four services each weekend. In 1995, the current Worship Center was completed with a seating capacity of 3,500. The multi-million dollar Children's Ministry Center and staff office building were completed over the next few years. In June 2008, a $20 million student ministry facility called the Refinery, was completed. The Refinery houses the middle school (Wildside) and high school (HSM) ministries, consisting of nearly 1,500 students. Warren has been invited to speak at national and international forums including the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvardâ€™s Kennedy School of Government, TED, and TIMEâ€™s Global Health Summit. He is also a signer of a statement concerning the global warming initiative. Warren was named one of "America's Top 25 Leaders" in the October 31, 2005 issue of U.S. News and World Report. Warren was elected by TIME magazine as one of 15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004 and one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" (2005). Newsweek magazine called him one of "15 People Who Make America Great", an award given to people who, through bravery or generosity, genius or passion, devote themselves to helping others. In the summer of 2008, Warren drew greater national attention by hosting a leadership and compassion forum that featured Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama. The forum at Saddleback Church on Aug. 16 marked McCain and Obama's first joint appearance as the presumptive Republican and Democratic presidential nominee. During the two-hour event, each candidate took the stage separately for about an hour to respond to Warrenâ€™s questions about faith and moral issues such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights. Warren said the goal of the civil forum was to â€œrestore civility in our civil discourse.â€ Warren has been married to Elizabeth K. Warren (Kay) for thirty years. They have three adult children (Amy, Josh and Matthew) and three grandchildren. He considers Billy Graham, Peter Drucker, and his own father (who was himself a Baptist pastor and a Southern Baptist Convention missionary), to be among his mentors.