TX Vacation 2008 – Lakewood Church and Galveston

[lakewood outside]
photo by mlsnp

When deciding where to go to church on vacation, we thought we’d dip our toe in to water of a mega-church. The closest one to where we were: Lakewood, where Joel Osteen is pastor.

Since it is such a huge church and because it was mostly out of curiosity that we were even going, Rachel and I discussed whether or not it was appropriate to bring our camera. I opted just to snap a few discrete shots with my phone.

Once we found the parking garage, we took a shuttle to the arena/sanctuary.

We were greeted with a firm handshake and a “Welcome to Lakewood.”

Right inside the front doors and up the escalator was a huge bookstore and what was apparently the mission statement of the church emblazoned on the wall.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11

Seemed quite obvious based on everything we’d seen so far that this verse was a central to everything at Lakewood.  Osteen’s book, Become a Better You, was on display in several places around the sanctuary.

We looked around a bit and headed over to the help desk. They pointed us in the direction of the floor where they had children’s church. The children’s ministry was divided up between two different floors.

[lakewood 1]The check-in process was impressive. You can’t tell very well from this picture. Each kid filled out a card that was immediately entered into a database at one of the eight check-in kiosks. We got 3 stickers — one for each of the kids and one for us parents. We had to present the parent sticker when we picked up the kids.

Rachel and I headed for the sanctuary. Most all of the “good seats” were already filled. We ended up in the upper level stage right section, right next to the platform. Here’s a good shot (that I didn’t take) of all the whole sanctuary.

[lakewood 2]The service started out real nice. The music and band sounded amazing considering where we were sitting.  There was a choir on both sides and up from the platform. The band was behind, but in front of the golden spinning globe. The worship team had about 8 vocalists. Once the band was done, the whole platform the band was on sunk into the floor and all of the musicians walked out into a lower level. That was pretty slick.

It pretty much went downhill from there, IMO. Osteen’s wife and “co-pastor” got up and did a little sermonette after one of the songs.


She had another little spiel before the offering.  The word “offering” is apparently very clappable.

I wish I could find the sermon that Osteen preached online somewhere, so I could post it here for you to have a listen.  Nearly all of the verses were taken out of context.

[chuck-e-cheese]It was basically a steady stream of God’s blessings on your life, prosperity, destiny, just believe it, free will, nothing is impossible, ad nauseam.

We picked up the kids with our sticker and headed back to the shuttle and then to our car. We quizzed the kids about their worship experience. Something about Peter.

I’m so disgusted just pondering it all again, that I’m not even going to write about the altar call, and my thoughts about whether Osteen is a Chuck-E-Cheese robot or a real person.

If I find that sermon, I’ll post it.

[goode company]We ate lunch at the Goode Company Hamburgers and Taqueria which was pretty close to the church. We got there when they were still serving breakfast. I ate a fajita dish. It was pretty good. It just happened to be right across the street from the Houston’s that I ate at while attending Nazarene Youth Congress in Houston in 2003.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel, changed clothes and hit the road for Galveston. Not only was there construction on the road, but everyone from the whole United States of America was heading there for Spring Break. It really wasn’t that far from the hotel, but it ended up taking almost 2 hours to get there. Once there it was cold, very windy and frankly, not that great.

The highlight probably was the dead jellyfish on the beach. Caleb had fun poking it with a stick. I think I’d rather visit a tropical beach next time — one with out the Spring Break, my stereo / car / girlfriend / motorcycle / six-pack-is-better-than-yours morons.

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