Pastor Rick Warren will be featuring his special Christmas Eve services at Saddleback Valley Community Church on television for the first time ever.
Fox News Channel and the Armed Services Television Network will broadcast the special hour-long program – "The Purpose of Christmas with Rick Warren” - on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 multiple times throughout Christmas Eve and Day.
Televised services or televangelism was never part of the megapastor's mission. Warren had always refused to do local television network broadcasts, not wanting to be a televangelist and wanting people to attend church rather than watch services from their homes, according to a Purpose Driven Ministries staff.
This time, it's different. Warren, best-selling author of "The Purpose Driven Life," wants to encourage people to find a church during the season of hope, according to a news release Wednesday.
"The message of this program is encouragement," Warren said in a statement. "Though Christmas is all about giving, hope, and joy, it is actually one of the loneliest times of the year for many people."
His messages will focus on the three purposes of Christmas.
Christmas services at Saddleback begin Friday evening and conclude Sunday night, totaling 13 services nearly back to back over the holiday weekend.
More than 35,000 people have attended Saddleback during the Christmas season in previous years. Services feature musical selections, the living nativity, and candlelight worship along with children's programs.
"Christmas is the celebration of an invasion when God came to earth 2,000 years ago, and the world has never been the same since,” said Warren. “It is a time for celebration – ‘don’t be afraid for I bring you good news of great joy;’ salvation - ‘for unto you is born a Savior;’ and reconciliation - ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’
"Christmas is also a time of coming together, and we need reconciliation in so many areas – in families, in communities and between nations," he added. "Many times when families get together over the holidays, there is a lot of brokenness, dysfunction, hurt and heartache. That’s why this message of reconciliation – peace with God, of God and with each other – is one that will ring true in a lot of hearts."
Warren will culminate his message by sharing the P.E.A.C.E. plan – a worldwide effort to mobilize one billion people to address the five global giants that encompass leadership, finance, health, education and faith, according to the announcement. The P.E.A.C.E. plan is currently being tested in nearly 70 countries by providing hope, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick and educating the next generation.
Viewers will be invited to visit www.thepeaceplan.com, which will feature a proprietary new "church finder" engine to help viewers locate a Purpose Driven church in their area.
"Though this message of encouragement is important for all to hear this Christmas season, the purpose of this broadcast is not to benefit Saddleback Church but to help and support other local congregations," said Warren. "We want people who are inspired or encouraged by this program to find a church in their community."
"The Purpose of Christmas with Rick Warren" is currently scheduled to air in the U.S. on the Fox News Channel on Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. EST and Dec. 25 at 12 a.m., 6 a.m., 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST. It is also scheduled to air on the Armed Services Television Network, reaching an additional audience of 800,000 uniformed service men and women and their families in more than 177 countries.