Posted by: watchman | August 15, 2009

Shallow Dreamin

In this video, Pastor Ed Young Jr. enters the worship center of Lakewood Church in Houston (of Joel Osteen fame) and says “look at this place!” and that “it is the dream of every pastor” to preach at a building the size of the Lakewood Worship Center.

Um… Huh?

Now, I don’t disagree with Ed Young that many pastors do dream of the huge crowds and the TV cameras, but many that hold these never stop to question their legitimacy. I mean, what is Ed Young talking about? He has 20,000 members at his church.

Many pastors point to their numbers, budget, or building as evidence of God’s blessing. So, they implore their people to pray harder and give more for the glory of God. Because, if the church meets its goals, then God will be glorified. The problem is most of these churches have the same goals as some Medieval robber baron – squeeze the peasents for every penny!

I mean, what would Luther have said to this nonsense? I know what he would have said:

Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church?

“Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”



  1. Ed said, “Isn’t it amazing what God has done?” Then he refers to the ceiling, crowd and choir? I don’t know that my reading of scripture tells me that God’s movement is specifically recognizable in any of those things really. Jesus healed a man who came through a shredded ceiling, he ran away from some of the crowds, and was never recorded as “singing” a note by himself or in a group that I’m aware of.

    Hmm…what if God didn’t do a thing? Or didn’t do what they though God did? What happens then?

  2. Just watched the video and I must say this turns my stomach ! It makes me question all preachers …… do they all have a monologue to share with us on Sunday morning….is it all part of a show …. a smoke screen from the music that draws us in, to the facade that hides truth from us. Then, after we have all gone home , do they stand behind the scene and mock simple trust in them…..seriously , is there anyone that is for real….

  3. Kathy, maybe I’m naive–but I think Ed and Joel are for real. Maybe they don’t speak to everyone, but I think God is using both of them.

  4. Mark, of course God uses them.

    Other interesting facts:

    The sky is blue.
    The earth is round.

    Comments such as yours have been typical of the disinformation used to derail criticisms of the institutional church.

    Of course God uses these pastors. Of course God can use their giant “worship centers.” He also used Pope Leo X and St. Peter’s Basilica. He has used con-artists, murderers, drunks, and villainous ne’er do wells.

    So what? The criticisms remain the same. What do these men say to Luther? What do they say to the spirit of the Reformation? What do they say to the cry of the poor and exiled refugees who long for justice and truth in the church of God?

  5. Corey, I suppose I should have an automatic email notification when my conversation here has been continued. I apologize for coming back to this so much later. Just now, as I was looking back over some of the older posts, I realized I had missed your response. I didn’t mean to rile you or anyone up with my comment, and I wasn’t being facetious or sarcastic. I certainly did not intend to spread “disinformation.” Obviously by saying I think God uses these men I didn’t mean in spite of them. What I meant was that they intentionally glorify God through their actions and words. One source said St. Peter’s cost $60 billion. In contrast, Osteen’s church building cost $100-$200 million. The two building complexes can potentially serve a similar number of people. What’s the point of bringing up Leo X? I’m sure he could have done a lot of good with the money he spent on wars. I’ll bet there can be no comparison between his prodigal lifestyle and that of Joel Osteen. I honestly don’t believe Luther would have had the same condemnation for Osteen that he had for the Pope. Maybe I owe you an apology. I do understand that you were trying to draw a parallel between what happened in the 16th century and some things that are happening now. I see the legitimacy of this parallel to some extent. But I don’t think it’s necessary to vilify these two men in the process. It is not my intention to “derail criticisms of the institutional church.” I’m just trying to provide my viewpoint to this interesting conversation. As always, I endeavor to inject every conversation with as much balance, fairness, and moderation as possible. I know you find my tolerant fence sitting infuriating at times.

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