- Well that was simply the best praise & worship service I've seen at Lakewood. Whatever Cindy & company brought back from Hillsong, I truly hope they bottled it and ration accordingly for the coming year. Adding to this was spotting some new well-deserved additions to the choir and a few long-lost members that I suspect are back in town from college (or they've been hiding out rather well on Sunday mornings).
- Is there a magnet somewhere on me that attracts people who clap out of time to the music? I know, I know ... I hate to whine and nag on here. But seriously, it's been about 3 weeks in a row and involves people sitting right beside me. I'm not exactly Captain Drum Machine or anything, but I think I keep fairly good rhythm. I guess what's really distracting about it to me is that it forces me to keep an eye on a section of folks clapping in time instead of ... well ... anything else.
- So I order books from Amazon on the 4th of this month. Apparently Amazon decides to ship them via UPS this time and suddenly UPS cannot locate my address (though they never had problems before). Long story short, I finally got my bounty on the 15th. So I'm just now diving into Andy Stanley's "Visioneering" and loving it far more than I thought I might. As irritating as the delayed 2-day delivery turned out to be, I find myself having a heck of a time thinking up a book of the month for August since I'm still in the early pages of one of my two books from July. Just saying is all.
- During the altar call, Joel made one of the rare references to the one-year mark for the current Lakewood location. It just strikes me as a bit unusual that there'd be so little mention given to that mark. Unusual because of the fanfare at the opening. Unusual due to the recent sermon about celebrating the successes God has allowed us to experience. Unusual due to the fact that the entire story of getting the facility is rather heavily woven into a great deal of sermons ... it's practically a narrative unto itself. But last week was not only a week where the pulpit was turned over to Paul Osteen, but it was a repeat sermon at that. Maybe this weekend will have something in store to give this anniversary a bit more attention. Dunno.
- On that note of the location's one-year anniversary, I've been mulling what type of observations to really note for my own membership at Lakewood for the past year. At almost every altar call, Joel asks those who can continue attending to give Lakewood a year of your life and you'll never be the same. I'm sure at one point, I thought I'd have a few thousand words to write about what the past year has done for me. But the more I mull it over, the more I just come down to something as pithy as "Yeah, what he said." It has been the best year I've had yet. Simple as that.
When I first set foot in Lakewood, I had every bit of hesitancy one can have. I knew that I had left the search for a church home on the back burner for too long, but when you don't truly understand what you're missing from church life, there's not enough cognitive dissonance to really push you out more. Those first, early forrays into the search for a church were as uncomfortable and awkward as it gets. Hardly the stuff that fuels the fire to keep searching. But when you see the people of Lakewood, it's easy to see that everyone is welcome. Among my first signposts was a poorly dressed older man who, for all I know, came in off the street. I knew if this guy was welcome here, then I'd be ok. Who knows, maybe he felt the same when he saw me. But the point was that this wasn't the type of church where every Sunday was a dressup contest ... it was a come-as-you-are church. It was friendly, without being overbearing. It's big enough that, if you wanted to hide somewhere on the back rows, you could. But it gets sufficiently small when you're in a class of about 30 or so ... or at a table of 8 ... and you meet some of the best friends you can hope to find. It's populous enough that I've run into friends and acquaintances on the way to work or at the bookstore. Just this past weekend, I had a young couple sit next to me and tell me know they'd seen me for months in the same general area they sit in, but just hadn't introduced themselves before. In short, Lakewood offers fellowship at it's best. There are great friends there just waiting for the opportunity to meet you.
Inevitably, there comes a point in time when you're no longer the new guy and you become a veteran. I'm not sure precisely where that point is, but I know I've passed it. Little signs along the way bear that out - learning the quasi-sign language used by ushers to make their job easier; recognizing that look in the eyes of new visitors and offering a welcome; catching up with someone you haven't talked to for a few weeks; realizing you're the longest-tenured church member at your Compass table; recognizing that you're one of the longest-tenured members at a Compass Class; having an in-depth conversation with someone about a sermon that was given over a month ago; or just being conned into facilitating a table at Koinonia ... and finding it to be far easier than once feared.
But what it really says is that you've found "home." And for that, I thank everyone I've come in contact with over the past year. You all represent the Body of Christ wonderfully ... even if you clap out of time.