June 14, 2024

This past Sunday, we were visiting my parents in Houston, so we decided to go visit Lakewood church (Joel Osteen’s church). It is currently the largest church in the US. We’ve never been there before and since I don’t really think too highly of Joel Osteen, my expectations were low.

We went to the 11 AM Sunday service. Not knowing how busy it would be, we arrived a little past 10. Turned out that getting in is not a problem. It was easy to find a parking spot and easy to get inside. So, we waited around in the bookstore, which is a pretty good sized bookstore. We got a seat at 10:45 and there were a lot of seats empty. Only by 11:30 was the stadium pretty full.

Praise and worship was a pretty dynamic time. I don’t think they say that they are charismatic, but it rivals any charismatic worship time with plenty of shouting, clapping, hand raising, and dancing. Afterwards, they had prayer lines to pray with prayer counselors. Lines were formed all over the stadium, all were fairly long. And they prayed with everyone in the lines, which took about 15 minutes to get to everyone. I was pretty impressed with this, since I haven’t seen this done in any church service. They also had communion concurrently during the prayer time.

Joel Osteen spoke at another church that Sunday, so the Spanish pastor, Marcos Witt preached. He was actually pretty good, and in some ways even better than Joel Osteen. He was funny, had great facial gestures, and can act. And of course he can also sing.

But the thing that impressed me the most about the church is that it is very diverse. I would say Whites are the minority there. There are a lot of Blacks and Hispanics there. And there also was a decent size of Asians there. People are dressed from flip-flops to suits. Age also spans from young to old. I have not seen that much diversity in a church of any size.

Leaving the church is a problem. It took us awhile just to get out of the building to our car. And once we made it to the car, it took us over 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot.

What don’t I like about the church? What I find is that the messages are quite shallow and only emphasize on prosperity and victory. Though there’s nothing wrong with being prosperous and victorious, it is a skewed view of Christianity and life. The theme of the entire service is positive thinking and the tendency to focus on self. But, as evidenced by the size and diversity of the church, this is a theme that many people are attracted to.

But, if you’re ever in the Houston area, it’s definitely worth the trip to go visit there.