LakeWood Church, Houston

A couple years ago, I was working in Houston and I asked if any of my Facebook friends in Houston wanted to meet up. Mike Carter messaged me and asked if I wanted to go to Lakewood Church with him. I had never heard of it, so he told me it was Joel Osteen’s church.

To be honest, I was like most of my Facebook friends who think the worst of him without really knowing anything about him. I was sure that I would not agree with his theology (without knowing anything about that either). Also, Houston is VERY large city and I wasn’t sure how far I would have drive to get there and I had a very tight work schedule.

However, I figured that I had posted something on Facebook asking to meet my friends and this is what my friend, Mike, offered, so I might as well go and just experience it for myself. As “luck” would have it, I was literally working across the street from Lakewood Church, so I had NO excuses!

I want to know why 45,000 people attend this church every week

 

What makes this church so different?

I‘ve long ago learned that the best experiences in life are those where you are completely open-minded to the experience and don’t pre-judge. So I shifted my thinking to: “I want to know why 45,000 people attend this church every week. What makes this church so different?” I knew that just teaching a “feel good” message would not be enough to keep that many people coming back, week after week.

45,000 people attend this church every week. What makes this church so different? Click To Tweet

Lakewood Church meets in this HUGE sports arena (I don’t remember which one), but Mike told me exactly where to meet him. When I got there, he and his beautiful wife, Beverly, took me to the visitor’s section, which is the front and center section they have reserved for first time visitors. Immediately I felt important, as a visitor.

Before the service began, everyone around me introduced themselves (the members could sit with their visiting guests), and I was made to feel very welcome from my first moment there.

When the praise and worship began, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I have NEVER experienced anything like that! Yes, it was a fairly typical contemporary praise and worship band, only better.

But have you ever praised the Lord with THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of other people, live? That alone was enough to make the whole thing worth it! It was so loud, with so many people singing and worshiping, that I couldn’t hear myself sing, but it made me sing all the louder! And when the band really got going, it rocked that whole arena to the point where we could physically feel it — you know, like going to good rock concert!

 

The Testimonies

I don’t remember the exact details of the service, but I’ve been to several others since then. What I do remember is that they will often bring up someone on stage to give a short testimony of how God, through Joel Osteen’s church, has recently changed their life, usually dramatically. It was not your typical “I prayed a magical prayer” testimony. It was a story of a homeless man who now had a job and a place to live, thanks to the church, and how God was working in his heart to change him from the inside out.

Or the four couples who went to a marriage conference because they were separated or going through a divorce. And how God restored their marriages through the help they received at the church.

Special Needs

Or the way the church helps, both practically and spiritually, families who have special needs kids, like mine. I never had that in any church I’ve ever attended. It was always a hardship at church. Not only does Joel’s mother have a special prayer service once a month for anyone with special needs, and not only do all the Sunday School classes have help for anyone with special needs, but they also provide respite care for those families as well. I cried when I heard that.

Joel's mother has a special prayer service once a month for anyone with special needs Click To Tweet

Or the program Joel Osteen’s church has so that when the state steps in to take children away from their parents in what they deem to be a bad situation. Lakewood has an alternative program where they actually work together with the families, helping them learn better parenting skills, so they can keep their children.

And hundreds more like that. You know, REAL life-changing stuff that I’ve never witnessed in a church before. I heard some stories in real life, and some from the pulpit.

Jesus central to the preaching and teaching

I don’t remember any particular sermon, although I heard both Joel Osteen and John Gray preach. John Gray is much more meatier, as far as teaching Scripture goes, and Joel Osteen was much more encouraging. There was no judgment there. They met people right where they were, BUT at the same time, encouraged them to grow and mature as well.

Jesus was central to the preaching and teaching, and there was an “altar call,” of sorts, for people to give their lives to Jesus at every service. And there were many who responded at each one. And they were helped to moved forward from there.

In the sermons I have heard so far, I found NOTHING wrong theologically, and I’m pretty good at finding theological errors! Now, I am sure if I attended more services, I would find something wrong. But the fact that there was nothing glaringly wrong was encouraging to me!

Joel didn’t focus on the boogeyman, Satan. He didn’t scare people with hell-fire and damnation. And he didn’t give any false prophesies about Jesus coming any time soon. He didn’t twist any Scriptures out of context. Instead, he just brought hope and help to thousands of hurting people.

 

Touring the arena

I found out that they had many Sunday School classes and Bible studies that were designed for more in-depth Bible study and learning, as well as John Gray’s mid-week service.

After the service, Mike and Beverly gave me a tour of the HUGE arena/church and Beverly must have introduced me to a thousand people! It seemed like she knew everyone there!

What struck me most about meeting all these people was, when they found out I was visiting, without prompting, nearly everyone wanted to tell me two things, in addition to welcoming me: “Let me tell you what Jesus has done for me, and let me tell you how this church has changed my life.” I have to say that I have never seen anything like that in all the oodles of churches I have either visited or attended in all my life.

 

The personal touch

Oh, yes, I almost forgot! I did get to meet Joel Osteen and shake his hand at the end of the service. He does that at every service, which is pretty incredible, considering how many people are there each week!

And so what I experienced that first day at Lakewood, and several times afterward, was not only the love of God, which permeated that place and those people. It was also thousands of lives who were truly changed by that love of God, and by all the people at Lakewood, including Joel Osteen.

So when ignorant, but well-meaning, friends want to slander Joel Osteen, usually because they don’t know anything about him in real life, I stand up for a man who has given his life to help thousands and thousands of people, both in real life and on TV. And for a man who relentlessly teaches about the love of God.

In the end, LOVE wins. And Joel Osteen “gets” that.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Joel has touched my life in so many ways!!! After the death of my daughter from the hands of her ex-boyfriend, I fell into a deep depression for years. I have been a powerful force in public schools as a Principal who work in behavioral schools, but was able to turn them around helping thousands of student to become successful in life!!! Then in 2009, my oldest daughter was missing after taking my grandson to visit his father… her ex-boyfriend. He murder my child, and throw her body in a lake with chains and bricks to keep her below the water. For days, he indicated that she left her son with him, and had ran off with another man!!! Her body was discovered on the third day after she went missing by two fishermen on the lake. It took 8 years to complete the trial, but he was founded guilt of the killing of my daughter. In between that years I developed PTSD, and major depression. I was removed for my job of 21 years, which cause more depression. One day, I watch Joel on a TV show talking about his new book. I heard him say ” You need to look in the mirror and tell yourself , I am free!!!” He went on to tell how powerful God is, and how the devil is not!!! I started looking in the mirror telling myself that I am free of sickness, free of depression, free of hate toward the man who took my baby life, and free of the devil’s control!!! I now watch and read Joel’s daily messages and shows!!! I hope to meet him one day, just to say THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT!

  2. Wow! Love is in abundance over there, even towards strangers! If only I wasn’t thousands of miles away in Nairobi, Kenya – I would also have made plans to visit Lakewood. Joel Osteen, you are God’s gift to mankind. I watch you on television regularly and get encouraged. I am a widow and things got somewhat tough initially, but God is great and I am who HE says I am! Today I am stronger and filled with the joy of the Lord. Through your Ministry I found peace! What Joel’s mother is doing is awesome. I would like to emulate her when I retire in a year’s time, that is my prayer. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry and mission on earth as you fulfill your purpose in His service – for His own glory – and as you give hope to the hopeless, and lots of love to humanity. GLORY BE TO GOD!!

  3. When Jesus was on earth, he preached on love which is the greatest commandment and to love on another. This is the gospel to be focused on. Nothing wrong with Joel Osteen preaching on love and helping the people to restore to normal functioning in society. If he has the gift of doing so, God blesses him richly. In this world you cannot please man because their mind is so canal that it affects them with sin, negative thoughts and evil. You see now, many are blind by the truth that which is love, light and life to accept. Grey scales cover the eyes of truth and allow darkness to cloud the mind by becoming judgmental. We know hell exist, but our focus should not dwell there. My point to Joel is that he is not focusing on hell the path to destruction but to the path of destiny through grace by faith we will receive our inheritance with him. Joel is an exception, he found rest in Jesus since he is at peace. In other words, who wants to hear about hell if you not doing anything wrong and even you do anything wrong the blood of Jesus is still powerful to forgive. Joel is on target that is why the enemies is after him with bad intention just like when Christ was on earth the devil use the people to disgrace his throne. Stay alert and become good watchmen and even prayer warriors to resist these attacks that is coming against the church in the latter. Don’t let the enemy break your marriage with the church it is God’ s ministry to you all that is under the new covenant. Stay focus for critics because me and you are heading into our destiny no matter who the devil use to brings us down.

  4. Thank you for this encouraging comment about Ptr.Joel Osteen but who are we to judge his ministry. We don’t even know him personally and visited his church.

  5. I do not understand Joel Osteen decision under Huston Crisis. But I see more of Christ in Mattress Mack and all Huston people and around world. Money vs Sacrifice?

  6. The Word of God says people are saved by the love of God. God sent his own son Jesus so that we might believe in God and have eternal life. Hell needs to be taught, but to the mature not the baby Christian. See scriptures below.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not of works, so that no one can boast.

    Titus 3:5-7 he saved us, not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.

    Romans 4:1-5 What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh, has discovered regarding this matter? 2 For if Abraham was declared righteous by the works of the law, he has something to boast about (but not before God). 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.

    Ladies, it also says, “do my prophets no harm.” Your slander will be judged by God himself. Also, if Pastor Olsteen has committed sin, and has not repented, God will judge him. God also says, judge not or you will be judged. You are on very shaky ground. God forgive you.

  7. First of all I want to say I agree with William Virella.
    Joel is not preaching “Soul-Saving messages”, and just as you said he doesn’t preach about “hell fire” messages, which is what “itching ears” want. … It does not matter how many people he “helps” if HE DOES NOT REACH OUT TO THEIR SOUL WITH SALVATION!!!! “Works” does not get you to heaven. (Ephesians 2:9 (KJV) Not of works, lest any man should boast.)
    DO NOT BE DECEIVED!!!

    • spot on!!!!! As long as hell fire is real, people need to be warned about it. Any preacher who decides to leave that out of his teachings is a false prophet

  8. If you read your Bible and then hear his preaching then you could say i’ts ( ◄ 2 Timothy 4:3 )
    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

  9. MY COMMENT : I couldn’t understand the slander or how Joel could be the opposite of his DAD! HE’S NOT!! Just a Different anointing! These slanders is touching an Anointing! Not kool!!

    TOUCH NOT MY ANOINTING! MY PERSONAL COMMENT: PRAISE THE LORD!!!

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