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Lakewood Church is located a block from Richmond Ave., at Timmons and Southwest Frwy. and, doesn’t look like the home to one of America’s more popular Mega Churches and its pastor, Joel Osteen. It’s only once you get inside that you realize how the former Compaq Center was transformed from a sports venue into a large and welcoming, religious institution, home to a 53 year old Houston, multicultural, congregation, proud of its Christianity.
There is a lot going on here, every day, and the best way to learn about it all is to explore the website. Walking the hall, past several entry ways to the service venue, several themed info/merchandise tables and several conference rooms, today, I found myself surrounded by hundreds of people, friendly, upbeat, and welcoming to people they knew, as well as complete strangers.
The centerpiece of this vast hall is the Religious Book and Gift Store, one of the best, varied and well stocked Christian Stores I’ve been in and admittedly, I’ve only been in a few, and only one other run by a Televangelist/Mega Church. A major plus are its extensive child, young adult, and Hispanic, sections.
Yes, books and multi-media products by Joel and his wife, Victoria, are on prominent display, but they do not overwhelm the place and I give them credit for selling books by other famous evangelists and Christian thinkers, past and present, including other prominent Texas names, and even a few of those folks who are the latest, in America’s long religious history, to be pre-occupied with prophecy and “End Times” hand wringing. There are also many varieties of Bibles, & Bible study resources, adult, and young adult, fiction, of the religious, and historical/religious, genres.
The “Church” part of the complex is a huge, multi-level, bowl, with a huge stage positioned where the seating spreads out in front, and above it, with several huge TV screens that bring the stage into closer view for those who didn’t bring a pair of binoculars. :-D
Another reason to be grateful to God and Joel’s designers, for the TV’s, will be appreciated during the service if you prefer not to stand for an hour and bounce up and down, sway side to side &/or wave your hands toward the heavens. Unless you stand the screens are the only way, in some parts of the room, that you will be able to see the stage. :-D