SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. – Hoping to inspire a new youth movement among college-age Christians, Saddleback Church held its first three-day outdoor festival featuring music, art, and teaching, at its 170-acre conference center in San Juan Capistrano.
More than 500 people from churches and colleges in Southern California attended the event called “Radicalis Festival,” which ended Saturday morning. Many of those attending the festival slept in tents set up on the conference center’s soccer field.
Saddleback Church lead pastor Rick Warren developed the “Radicalis” concept with church and ministry leaders from around the United States in mind. Two previous conferences held in the last two years included renowned speakers teaching on Christian leadership concepts to no specific age group.
Warren is now, in a sense, passing the Radicalis baton to the next generation of Christian leaders, college-age ministry Pastor Brad Baker told The Christian Post.
Warren, who taught during two of the five sessions over the three days, said that although the word “radical” often means “extreme,” it comes from the Latin word “radicalis.” The Latin word means “rooted.”
“It means rooting our lives in Jesus Christ and in our church family,” Warren said on the opening night of the festival. “It means uprooting poverty, illiteracy, disease, and injustice.”
The sessions held at the Rancho Capistrano center opened with worship music, including a performance by Christian vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist Phil Wickham. Art exhibited during the festival included murals, paintings, and drawings by college ministry members and commissioned artists.
Baker, 35, said that he looks forward to next year when the festival will be promoted to the rest of the United States.
“Our desire was to create an engaging context for people to experience God for the first time or as an existing believer in a fresh way,” Baker said. “Radicalis is really focused on mobilizing the next generation to do something about the greatest problems on the planet – spiritual emptiness, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, corrupt leadership and lack of education.”
Baker said the focus he was referring to is already in place and in motion as part of Saddleback Church’s PEACE Plan. The mission of P.E.A.C.E. is to outreach locally and globally to “Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation.”
The Radicalis Festival is also aimed at educating young people about Christian church history, Baker said.
“This is about uncovering that fiery, missional focus of the early church,” he said.
Baker said he is also hoping the festival serves as a bridge between generations.
“With the emergence of every new generation, the church has a decision to make. Are they willing to let go of their preferences as the older generation in order to speak the language and connect with the new young leaders that need to be raised up?”
“I felt this conference provided that place. I think that part of Radicalis is passing the torch and mentoring this next generation,” Baker added.