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Discussion Forum : News and Current Events : Lakewood Church sounds like a business

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"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

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 Lakewood Church sounds like a business

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With 300 employees, a projection of $77 million in annual revenue and audited financial statements, Houston's Lakewood Church sounds a lot like a business.

And in many ways, it is.

"It would be naive to say, 'No, we're not a business,' " Senior Pastor Joel Osteen said in an interview. "We obviously are a business because we're dealing with millions of dollars. And I say that because we don't take that lightly."

According to a copy of the church's most recent audited financial statement obtained by the Chronicle and a review of public records including court documents, Lakewood is a sophisticated and successful business operation.

"We have to be good stewards of God's money, so we run it by sound, solid business principles," said Osteen, who this year stopped taking his $200,000 salary from the church and instead lives on profits from sales of his best-selling book, Your Best Life Now, which has sold 2.8 million copies.

The documents show revenue for the 2004 fiscal year of $54 million, including $3.4 million from the church bookstore, which sells religious videos, CDs and books.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2005/7/25 20:42Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4496


 Re: Lakewood Church sounds like a business

That's quite amazing, Greg. The sad thing is that there are so many churches that desperately seek to become like these mega-churches. It seems that many churches have become "institutions," with dreams and ambitions of growing even larger. Unfortunately, the emphasis seems directed almost entirely on quantity -- physically, mentally, and economically. Even small churches are not immune to this phenomenon.

It seems that today's accepted measure of a "successful church" concerns how good the praise and worship (music) sounds, how involved the youth are, and how entertaining the services can be. Its almost like a "marketing formula" for church growth. I used to shutter when I imagined this image of "church" or christianity being broadcast into other nations via christian television. What would a congregation in North Korea, Sudan, Iran or Saudi Arabia think after having watched today's modern megachurch services?

Interestingly, I surfed through the Lakewood Church website earlier today. I performed a Google search (using the terms Lakewood Church) and the first link was for Lakewood. The first link Google supplied the official Church website, including a subheading that stated that Lakewood is a "large Assembly of God church." Do you know if this is true?

I searched the Assembly of God's official online minister directory for Joel Osteen, but there was no listing. However, I know that Benny Hinn was at one time an Assembly of God minister, but his name was not listed in the online directory either (due to privacy concerns).

Anyway, my prayer is that local churches return to their original intent. I love to hear the Word of God taught. And I enjoy attending services. Since my mother was converted (when I was in the fourth grade), I have attended churches that ranged in size from huge mega-churches -- to a small church that met in an old one-room schoolhouse. But I think that I have actually felt more blessed when worshipping, fellowshipping, studying and breaking bread with believers in their homes.

It might be interesting to learn what the perception of a proper church is from people that frequent this website. How (according to the Scriptures) should a local church be administrated?


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Christopher

 2005/7/25 23:23Profile
MrBillPro
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3201
Texas

 Re:

http://www.lakewood.cc/site/PageServer

I guess I attend there because I Love it and God has his reasons and most are not understood by man. :-)


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Mr. Bill

 2005/7/25 23:29Profile
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Joined: 2003/10/15
Posts: 1632


 Re: champion

I see as I go to their site that at the top there it says clearly "Discover the champion in you". I do hope they mean the champion is Jesus and He is in us. I know the only champion in me is Jesus, not me. If not, then this sounds just like my old Zig Ziglar motivational meeting I used to listen to. "You're a winner!" :(

I thought christianity was all about Him, not us.

I pray that we will make our faith about Him and not about us.

In Him, chanin


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Chanin

 2005/7/25 23:40Profile
geddingsm
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Joined: 2003/11/3
Posts: 61
south carolina

 lakewood church is a business

I just received the annual financial report from Gospel for Asia.
In 2004 their total budget was a little over $12 million dollars. The total operating expenses were about $5 million dollars. The rest went to ministries and projects.
The reason I'm writing this is to show that with small budget they did the following:

-planted 2347 churches in Asia, 6.4 a day!

-opened 3425 mission stations in Asia, 9.3 a day!

-they have 14512 missionaries

-planted 558 churches in the slums of Asia, real slums not like we have in the west

-have 1300 mission stations in the slums

My, how our churches could learn from this! Instead of stained glass windows, printed programs and other such "necessities" maybe we could put our money to God's purpose.

Imagine what they could do with a Lakewood budget!

In Him
geddingsm


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marvin geddings

 2005/7/26 20:34Profile
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4496


 Re: lakewood church is a business

That is truly amazing, geddingsm!

I read a report somewhere about how much money a certain christian television network brings in per day through donations. It was an incredible amount of money!

I've always wondered why such organizations don't spend a large portion of that money on more tangible purposes. The network could purchase Bibles (print, mp3 or audio) and distribute them free of charge to as many people as possible. Or they could build church buildings, feed and clothe the poor, or train and provide for christian workers. Instead, the network seems to lavish itself in excess. The report showed very little of such projects. The bulk of the income was spent on operating costs.

I don't resent churches or ministries that bring in vast sums of donations. I just feel that there should always be a very open and public accountability for the funds (including the aggregate incomes of ministry leaders). It saddens me to see the world mock christian ministries whose leaders live a life of flamboyant luxory. This is even more disheartening when the minister defends his hefty salary or lavish lifestyle by misquoting the Word of God.

That is why I appreciate ministries that are open with their budgets. I know of a few, like David Wilkerson, who have "open-record" policies.

I recently watched a recording of a major TV news magazine's expose on a famous television evangelist (not affiliated with Lakewood or Joel Osteen). It was revealed that his salary was a "modest" $1 million per year. The bulk of his income, the evangelist claims, comes from his numerous "bestselling" books. But this minister fails to mention that most of those books are "bestsellers" because [i]the ministry buys them in bulk[/i] -- and uses them as "love offering gifts." He also fails to mention that his wife, daughter and son in law are all on the ministry's payroll, accumulating huge salaries -- with no accountability as to what work their positions entail.

The ministry also pays nearly all of his daily expenses. This includes luxiorious $1000 a night hotels, flights on private luxory jets and the Concorde (at $8000 one way), $750 single meal expenses, recuperation trips at lavish resorts, multiplied million dollar parsonages, and yearly luxory "ministry" vehicles (provided for by the ministry). This minister does not release these cars back to the ministry, but instead keeps them. In other words, the salaries and income he obtains is not used for any type of living expenses.

While the information provided in the show was bad -- the response of this evangelist was even worse. Instead of acknowledging any truth, he spent time and resources defending his lifestyle and belief in the [i]prosperity[/i] message. He never disputed the bulk of the reports.

I realize that there are some people who defend the lifestyles of such men. But I remember that Jesus [i]could have[/i] lived a luxorious lifestyle if he had wanted. But he [i]chose[/i] not to. Instead of being born in a palace, the King of Kings was born in a barn. Instead of sleeping in luxory, he had no place to lay his head. Instead of coveting the things of this world -- Jesus gave up his very life. And this attitude was not just confined to Jesus. All of the apostles lived such lifestyles. Instead of coveting luxory, they chose to spend their lives for others.

I know that there are many non-Americans who participate on this website. One large christian television network holds alot of telethons for the purpose of raising money to build Christian television stations around the world. I was wondering what type of "Christian television" programs are broadcast in other nations by this major Christian television network? Anyone?


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Christopher

 2005/7/26 23:07Profile
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"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

Online!
 Re:

Quote:
My, how our churches could learn from this! Instead of stained glass windows, printed programs and other such "necessities" maybe we could put our money to God's purpose.


Tremendous stats, imagine if the whole western Church world spent money in the way gfa does! it would be radical. That is amazing to have 6 churches on average being planted each day, what fruit!


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2005/7/27 12:58Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
It might be interesting to learn what the perception of a proper church is from people that frequent this website. How (according to the Scriptures) should a local church be administrated?



We had a stab at this once before, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved on. It was called [url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?viewmode=flat&order=0&topic_id=4793&forum=35&post_id=&refresh=Go]what is a church?[/url]


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Ron Bailey

 2005/7/27 13:05Profile
Eli_Barnabas
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Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 621
Cache Valley, Utah

 Re:

Some words of Jesus:

[i]"You cannot serve God and mammon."[/i]

[i]"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."[/i]

Let's hope for the best, that they consider these words.


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Eli Brayley

 2005/7/27 13:24Profile





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