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Houston, TX, 17:48

Apr 20, 2008

9,133 अवलोकनें
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Visiting Lakewood Church

Yesterday evening I landed Houston, TX. This I morning was able to participate in two services at Lakewood Church - one behind the scenes and one in second row. I had the great privilege to be toured through the facilities by Lakewood Media Director Brian Tankersley, formerly known as one of the most influential music producers of Christian music in the 80s and 90s. The church of course is state of the art in every thinkable way and it's quality of music, lighting, set design and tv production can definitely rival any Las Vegas Show at any time. In our western world, where secular media tends to look down upon Christians and their little churches, a church like Lakewood can brake any stigmatism of cultishness and end any suspicion towards Christianity's legitimacy. And that is especially true for good old Europe. Now, the one thing that impressed me the most was it's spiritual life, the anointed atmosphere, the spirit led worship and totally home hitting sermon. It is astonishing how a church of this size (45.000 visitors per week) managed to be such an intimate, personal and spirit filled church.

It is absolutely stunning to see God's mandate on Pastor Joel Osteen - the gifts and anointing is very unique and exactly what many people were hungry for. Lakewood's enormous growth confirms that.

After looking behind the scenes, being amazed by the efficiency, sleekness of staff, progression of media technology (but in an extremely efficient way!) and having the enormous pleasure to sit in Brian's "private mix" of the first service, listening into the various channels (and tracks) of the audio mix during worship, I had the great pleasure to meet Pastor Joel Osteen and Pastor Duncan Dodds. Feeling very humbled and impressed by Pastor Joel's heart to reach the nations, I finally got to sit in the second service - live in the auditorium.

Let me tell you about my personal experience during the service:
First of all I got to sit right behind Joel and Victoria Osteen, next to a wonderful woman in her 60s from SoCal, originally from Germany, who spoke fluently German. She had seen Joel Osteen on TV and extended her Houston visit to experience a church service live. We were both first time visitors. The worship was powerful and very anointed (although perfectly arranged and outrageously perfected of course!). And totally entering into the worship myself was astonishing for me as media and music person being highly distracted by all the cool stuff going on (background color changes, jib moves, fog, lighting moods, drum breaks, guitar licks, the list of nuances to be observed is endless and a mere pleasure to any artistic person...) Worship was far longer than I had expected! The services did not feel rushed, or timed, or squeezed in any way.

Pastor Joel is up on the platform encouraging people in challenging life situations, taking time for ministry. The worship team goes back to a song, while hundreds and hundreds of people are standing, coming to the front, being prayed for all over the 16.000 seat auditorium. Amazing.

Worship ends with a joyful, uplifting song.

After a warm welcome, Victoria share a great thought on smiling and thankfulness. The choir performed and the service had already gone on more than an hour. Ah yes, and somewhere in between an offering had been taken - I had hardly noticed, but I remember throwing something into a bucket. I am sure it was the offering bucket and I hope it was money I threw in...

Alright. Pastor Joel is on the platform again, preaching. The sermon is enormously encouraging and goes right along the uplifting spirit throughout the whole service. In this moment it strikes you: whenever you might be sad or down - here is a place where you will be lifted up, strengthend and encouraged. The sermon speaks about mindsets - about overcoming a limited mindset, overcoming doubt, overcoming discouragement. There are some really funny and thought provoking jokes and parables that hit home. Pastor Joel shares about his father overcoming poverty and the challenges of being surrounded by doubters. At this moment he starts of a sentence, daring every listener to believe in God's plan for their lives and to overcome a limited mindset, as he interrupts, unable to speak further. Moved with compassion and moved by the Holy Spirit he finds words again, continuing a story of a woman who never knew why she cut of the ends of the ham. (now, it was truly humorous, but nonetheless completely convicting). That was the moment for me, where I personally felt a strong inner shaking by God's presence.

The tender and sensitive altar called was answered by hundreds of people around the humongous venue, including the wonderful lady next to me. With determination and courage she stood up immediately and asked Christ into her heart. After praying together with the local and the TV-audience, Joel Osteen encourages everyone to find a living church, even though it may not be Lakewood. The counseling center offers help at a specially designated reception following the service.

I can only tell you one thing: everyone might have different opinions on large churches and personal preferences. But one thing is for sure: God uses everyone - the big and the little - and he loves the diversity of his body! He loves all the different members and he gave us all different gifts. It is naturally to for to consider our own gifts and revelations as the most significant ones. But the truth is: we all need each other and God uses each and every one of us and each and every church and ministry, according to our individual calling and assignment on this earth. Let us all cherish each other and revel in the diversity and beauty of God's enormous kingdom! It is bigger than me, it is bigger than my surroundings. It is greater - far greater! And I am loving every little bit of it!

Andreas & the team