domingo, novembro 27, 2005

Lakewood Church

See just this Post & Comments / 1 Comments so far / Post a Comment /   Home
Next, Back.

I went over to Lakewood Church this morning, to listen to Joel Osteen, the Houston evangelist. My friend Big Mike the taxi driver, says he should be President.

It is a HUGE church, seating for 15,000 or so - they bought an arena of some kind and converted it. It sits at the intersection of the Southwest Freeway #59 and a street, Edloe, which does connect with the expressway - so it is a big square box of a building wrapped up in on-ramps and off-ramps and parkades and surrounded by high-rise buildings and asphalt. The sanctuary has its hard surfaces all covered up for good sound, three large screens and a dozen booms carrying cameras, well lit in full colour, comfortable seats. I did not see a cross anywhere. The place was not full, maybe it was 1/4 full, this was the early service - but people sat up front first so it felt fuller than it was.

This merits emphasis - I have passed through a lot of sanctuaries in a lot of churches; and I have seen full ones before, in Brasil they fill to the doors five times and more of a Sunday, standing room only; but I have never seen a church fill at the front first, not one time, never.

Joel himself was not there this morning - his brother Paul, a woman - I didn't get her name, and the spanish language pastor Marcos Witt filled in for him.

There was a large-ish choir, and a band with a brass section. The music was that kind of new-age christian stuff that I find very hard to sing - not enough melody - but the message was good: "I am still standing", well yes, as a matter of fact I am. They might do well to try some of those old Methodist hits, take fifteen minutes and teach one or two to the congregation, it could be done. Well now, nevermind the music, this room had every colour and age of person, some dressed up and some dressed down, some loudly praising, some dancing, some standing and and some sitting quietly.

Marcos Witt preached on hurt and anger and bitterness. He said put them away. He said put it all in the garbage, because it is garbage and it makes you stink. He gave a few practical tips to help you do that - love your enemy and forgive those who hate you. He called the congregation 'champions'. He said you can't be champions if you are dragging around all of the rebukes you have ever received so put them down and leave them down.

Good preaching. Good advice.

The woman beside me put her hand on my shoulder and I put my hand on hers, and we exchanged names and prayed for one another, that we would find the strength to forgive and get on with joyful living.

I am posting this because I know that some of my friends hear about churches like this and think that they somehow represent an intolerant, ultra-conservative, ultra-right-wing America, some kind of evil empire working to swallow up suggestible minds, put them in brigades and send them off to make war on intellect. Maybe this goes on somewhere else, but from what I saw it does not go on at the biggest church in Houston.

Witt was inviting people to come along to the spanish service later on - at one point he said, "bring your yard man". He said it with a smile. Now the fact is that in Houston, lots of the yard men are indeed spanish, there is an under-class, surprise, surprise - and in most other places such a politically incorrect phrase would not be openly spoken. But of all I saw and heard today that little sentence moved me the most, proved something to me, and made me want to go back there again sometime for more.

I say, form your own opinion, check it out for yourself:
Lakewood Church / Joel Osteen

Tags: , , , .
Posted dezembro 01, 2005 4:31 PM by Blogger Doug /  

Thanks for visiting land in love. You have a real nice blog here. Wisdom, humour and art grace the commentary and it is a welcome change of scenery. It is enjoyable reading the lyrics of songs I have partly forgotten, songs at one time or another I endeared myself to. I notice Cockburn is fairly incisive and I always meant to look more into his stuff but hopefully I will get around to that. Much more here, of course.
I recall in my listening to different preachers in the "Christian celebrity TV nation" that Osteen never did get so behind Bush and Iraq as some preachers did or at least I do not remember or maybe it is because it is harder to imagine him in a fitfull fervent bullfest of emotion promoting invasion of Iraq (death and destruction) down upon others as I have seen from some of them. That one point would keep me from going to that preachers church much like the racial undertones back in the 70's & 80's did but Times they are a chang'in or at least except where Louisiana is concerned. Is is amazing how some christians seemed so quick to come to Bush's defense where hundreds of poor were just left to die. Ok, on a more positive note, I think if a person already has their walk in Christ together then a large church can offer many opportunties to expand and increase their talents helping others come to and grow in Christ. Amazingly, from my experience, the majority of these churches have not had the "cold" rap that you might expect in a large congregation and I think much of their fundamentals are good but what I think it gets into is just where the church is going and how the market orientedness of the mega church can keep it from preaching a truth that the people may not want to hear but need to hear and will the church preach it even if it means it will turn some or even many from the doors. Does living in such a money oriented, prosperity oriented society keep preachers from bringing up any sobering observations about monied influence or even observations about the pillars of society that undergird that corrupt influence? Having said that, I think that people that are aware of this dynamic should remain in the megachurch, rather than leave it, in order to help move it in the right direction. I have always felt that God does not want us running off becoming offended but would rather we look at a churches potential for good and do what we can to make a difference or in other words be an instrument of God in His desire to turn that church around. A megachurch naturally has a ton of potential and if people leave it they will probably just end up in another imperfect church. The botton line of it is that church leaders need to be focused on God's will, not money's influence and to the extent they do the former the better off the body of believers will be. Anyway I'm going on here so, again, thanks for the comment you left.
On Chavez you might try at the bottom of this Wikipedia link for some of his speeches.