LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren will be joined by three renowned doctors, including cardio surgeon and TV show host Dr. Mehmet Oz, for a health conference and rally to be webcast live from Saddleback Church Saturday morning.
The conference marks the nine-month mark for Saddleback’s Daniel Plan, which is a churchwide campaign that includes a curriculum for small groups and an interactive website with healthy menus, exercise tips, and inspirational stories.
The year-long plan was launched by Warren in an effort to help his congregation and those outside the church learn healthy principles while honoring God with their physical bodies.
“God is as interested in your physical health as he is your spiritual health,” Warren said in an introductory video of the plan. “He wants you to be not just spiritually healthy, but physically healthy … whole in mind, body, and spirit. That’s why I got together three of my friends, three well-known doctors to put together a one year plan.”
Oz, who has won two daytime Emmy's, will be joined by brain-health expert Dr. Daniel Amen and functional medicine specialist Dr. Mark Hyman at the free conference.
“These three men are going to join me to talk to you about how we can be healthier not just through the Christmas season, but for all of next year,” said Warren in a video invitation.
Warren said about 12,000 Saddleback Church members have signed up to participate in the Daniel Plan.
“Over the last nine months we have lost over a quarter of a million pounds. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds myself,” he said. “You are going to learn some life-changing information that will help you and your family be healthier.”
Amen, who wrote the bestselling Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and other popular books, said that his participation in the plan was an answer to prayer.
He writes, “I had an experience last year that was very disturbing. I went to my own church one Sunday and watched them serve such bad food to the congregation … donuts, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, cupcakes and ice cream … and I wondered if they were trying to send people to heaven early.”
“New research from Northwestern University suggests if people spend too much time at church they are more likely to be obese. It is not surprising with pot luck dinners, spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts, ice cream socials, etc. I was so upset that day that I prayed God would use me to help change churches to be healthier places,” he recalls.
“Then, no lie, two weeks later Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church called to ask if I would help get his church healthy … Wow, I thought, now that is an answer to prayer!”
Dee Eastman, the church’s director of the Daniel Plan, said that she has seen some dramatic changes in church members and staff.
“The Daniel Plan focus has been on complete health improvement, because it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle,” Eastman said. “We've seen profound health improvements in a variety of areas including weight loss results from five to 100 pounds, increased energy, and better sleep.”
“Overall, there's been an enhanced vibrancy for those who have embraced the plan,” she said.
In an email to The Christian Post, Eastman listed some examples of success stories:
"Pastor John Baker, who leads the Celebrate Recovery ministry, reached his weight-loss goal of 70 pounds and now incorporates food-related addictions in the program.
One young man, who is 16-years-old, has lost 50 pounds and between his mom and dad, they've made it a family affair and have lost a total of 140 pounds.
Deborah reported to being out of energy, lackluster and unable to walk a flight of stairs without losing her breath. Her small group started the plan, she had her blood work done and learned she was anemic. She adopted the Daniel Plan foods, and is now back to hiking, biking, yoga and feels great!"
Amen said he believes a large part of the reason for the program's success is because it is done with the support of small groups.
“The plan is filled with great content, but the secret sauce is that it is centered around a small group format, where 5-8 people meet weekly to support each other,” Amen stated. “We have leveraged one of the most effective tools for change … the power of human connection.”
The live webcast on Saturday is scheduled 9-11:30 a.m. PT and can be viewed at www.danielplan.com. Former contestant of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" Austin Andrews is scheduled to give a motivational talk to children at the church campus as well.