Rick Warren retiring as lead pastor at California megachurch

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has announced his retirement after 42 years of leading Saddleback Church in Southern California

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has announced his retirement after 42 years of leading Saddleback Church in Southern California. A search for his successor will be launched this week.

The well-known evangelical pastor and best-selling author told his congregation on Sunday that the search is not the end but the “beginning of the beginning,” The Orange County Register reported Monday.

Warren, 67, said he will continue to serve as lead pastor until a successor is in place. He said he will then step back into a less “visible position as founding pastor.”

There is no timeline for the search, which will look at candidates both within and outside the church. Warren declined to speak about his retirement plans on Monday.

Warren said then that he was offered a series of jobs with Christian organizations, seminaries and denominations, but never moved.

Warren, who has more than 11 million social media followers, has written multiple books, including “The Purpose Driven Life.” In 2005, Time magazine named Warren one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”