I got away with Melinda for a couple days this week. We flew out on Sunday PM heading for Houston to meet at Lakewood Church and Joel and Victoria Osteen; about the Champions Network.
To our surprise some of our favorite people were on our plane, Judah and Chelsea Smith. As you know Judah’s parents, Wendell and Gini, have been our pastors since mom and dad went home with the Lord. We love the Smith’s huge, and it was cool to catch up on the plane. Seriously, if you live anywhere around the Eastside or downtown and don’t drive out to The Rock Church go to The City Church. These guys are the real deal, and hitting home runs for Jesus.
Landing in Houston well after midnight we checked into our hotel right next to Lakewood Church, got some rest and prepared for the morning.
Walking downstairs we ran into so many people we knew from all over the country. Friends like, Kevin and Beth Green from The Living Room and Eli and Teresa Moreno from Changing Pointe, greeted us as we waited in line at Starbucks. Well, Melinda waited in line, ya all know I only like coffee as long as it’s not in my mouth!
The gathering would begin after meeting dozens of movers and shakers from around the nation. I’d say there were about 85-100 leaders representing about 300,000 folks! That’s pretty awesome.
Joel Osteen is the real deal. He told us how humbled he was to receive the church at the time of his father’s death. He was talking about what God had done, and he was talking through the emotion of it all. It is always great to see Christian leaders who are completely vulnerable in front, Joel was that way on this trip. As he was sharing I was reflecting about the loss of my dad. My story resonates with Joel a lot because I never asked to be a lead pastor. I was completely content doing what I was doing, but the graduation of my father and mother meant it was time to step up.
We heard stories of how God is using Joel and Victoria to build the local church, not just their church, but churches like The Rock. With 20 million people watching their program every month they have a lot to say about building the church. Research has taught them that nearly 50%, or half, of those watching, 10,000,000, are un-churched or de-churched. Meaning, they are not connected anywhere. Champions Network exists to help those 10 MIL people find the churches represented in the room I was sitting in. I was completely stoked at the possibilities.
Imagine what could be possible if 500 people were added to The Rock Church this year? It would be epic! Well, that’s what we are doing. By partnering with Joel and Victoria we will be offering The Rock as a local church opportunity for all those people connected with Joel’s books, television show and teaching. I am pumped about this.
At the end of the day I was talking with Victoria about a phone call I made the summer after my parents died. Back then, I knew of Joel taking over for his dad, so I called Lakewood Church and left a message for Joel, telling of my story. You know what? He called me back in the summer of 2000. We talked for a brief moment about our dad’s, church and filling big shoes. It wasn’t a long conversation, but I’ve never forgotten it. Victoria remembered Joel telling her about that phone call 10 years ago this summer.
She led me to the front to speak with Joel about it. Guess what? He remember it also. A guy who speaks to 20 million people per month on TV nationally, and most likely billions world-wide. He pastors Lakewood Church which is so big it meets where the Houston Rockets used to play. Not only that, but he’s written best selling books and keeps a schedule rivaling a President. And after all that he remembered talking with a 29-year old pastor who’d just lost his parents. That’s the real deal friends. I am honored to be included in the Champions Network.