"Everyone, and I mean everyone, is carrying a Bible."
One very interesting thing: Everyone and I mean everyone
is carrying a Bible. In the bustling lobby, I meet my guide for the day,
Andrea. Once these escalators were filled with anxious Houston Rockets fans
ready to cheer Hakeem Olajuwan catching an alley-oop from Sleepy Floyd. But
today they are here for hope, not hoops.
Despite the sheer massiveness of the facility and vast
number of people moving about, there is something curiously cozy about the
place. Andrea explains that Joel has made every effort, from the carpet to the
signs to the seats to the lighting, to make this feel less like an arena and
more like a church. It works. It certainly helps that there are cheery
volunteers at every turn. Every one of them tells me how much they like to
serve. Somehow getting up two hours early is an honor in their world. When I
ask how many volunteers there are for a typical Sunday I am utterly floored by
the answer, “Approximately 5,000.” WHAT?! I try to catch my breath and
Andrea adds that there are also a couple hundred paid church staffers as well.
I used to work as a church janitor back in the day
(hey it was the Lord’s work) and to get someone to help me often required
bribery – which included rides in my 1985 Pontiac Fiero, access to the church
candy coffers and, for those with less integrity, a peek at the answers for
next week’s Bible Bowl questions. The idea that Lakewood could drum up 5,000
happy, willing volunteers just blows my mind. It all goes back to the
philosophy here I suppose, the 5,000 are here not only to serve but to help
themselves in the process. It’s amazing, but it kind of makes sense.
Time’s a’wasting and I’m anxious to see everything, so
I head over to the kids’ area. Having four of my own, ages 6, 4, 2 and 1 (yes,
I married Superwoman), I know how important a good children’s program is for a