The Skeptic's Guide to The Universe

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Olsteen update for "A Night of Hope"

This afternoon I was contacted by Andrea from Lakewood Church. The Houston Megachurch that Olsteen leads. When I asked her about the cost of the ticker she explained that it covered the cost of paying for the Scottrade Center employees and various things such as that. I expressed my view that if this is a message that is good for everyone to hear that provision should be made for making the event free. Andrea explained that they used to have free attendance at these events but when they had an event at Madison Square Garden the facility required that a admission be charged for safety reasons. This was Oct. 19, 2007. So the policy continues with "A Night of Hope" Jan 7th at 7:30PM at the Scottrade Center.

MSG Olsteen Event

According to the MSG website they charged $14.95 for the tickets. Andrea explained that from then on they started using a reserved seat ticket system. Andrea said that they had to use TicketMaster but MSG uses there own system for selling tickets. SO according to the representative for Lakewood Church each public event has been forced to charge an admission ever since. I would have to think that is was more of a unexpected windfall myself. The question I have now to this comment is how did you manage to have events prior to this? How did people attend and how was the facility paid for? The bottom line to that part of this issue is that it seems God provided until they made it to New York City. Since then God's provision has not been sufficient for the ministry.

A second point is that Andrea felt that it was simply a legitimate process of the ministry to charge and that they were nothing different from a Christian Music performer or band charging. First of all, concerning a person that has talent and skills in singing and playing a musical instrument, the performance is an accepted means to pay the people for the show. Andrea said several times that these “people” consider their performances to be a “worship service.” I agree they very well may believe that and to them people there it may be that as well but the actually event is a performance of singing and musical instruments. For this, the convention and traditional process is that a performer that comes to a scheduled event is either paid via doors ticket sales or via sales of products during the show or some other prearranged agreement. This is a reasonable thing to happen. Like plays, sports, movies, and other performing arts, the payment is part of the recognition of the skills of those performing.

A short search on the internet will show you many concerts for Christian performers that decide not to charge. It is that somehow the cost of the event simply went away? I doubt it. I think that the priority of the show was to get the message of their faith out. That is more important than the door charge. But with the draw that Olsteen has I guess he doesn't really have to worry about the message as much as the money. To be sure I am sure that Olsteen isn't going to travel coach or by train to St. Louis, and I am damn sure he isn't going to drive. Olsteen may have a driving licensee but I doubt he ever has to use it. But that is all supposition on my part.

When I was talking to Andrea, I came up with several ideas off the top of my head how to make this event free to the public yet still reserved seating. She seemed to think that was a main reason behind it.
One was to have the tickets distributed through local churches and or business. That way the number of tickets could be set and there would be some accounting for the numbers that were given out. So what is someone take a few they don't need, Isn't Olsteen suppose to rely upon God's provision anyway? The second way was to have a $15 to 25 credit that the person could use on another purchase. Maybe a book or CD or something like that. At least then they could say the price of admission is returned in a free gift to cover the cost. But to be honest that is the weakest way to deal with it. The best way would be to have the people buy the tickets and then once they got in trade the purchased ticket for cash and a admission ticket. But like I told Andrea, who should I be the one solving your problems. You all are the professionals at this not me. These were just two ideas I thought of off the top of my head when talking to Andrea.

Now lets look at the history of evangelical Christianity. But before I do, Andrea mentioned several times how she didn't think that the payment of $15 was that much. I would contend that if it was someone that was in need of “A night of Hope” that $15 dollars could be quite an issue. She did go one to say that they give away free tickets at Joel Olsteen's book signings. SO you can get free Joel Olsteen tickets 12:00pm Friday, Jan 7, 2011 at the Pudd'n Head Books on 37 S. Old Orchard Ave in St. Louis 63116 phone: 314.948.1069. But of course if it is like a typical book signing, you usually have to have a book to get it signed. Preferably from the bookstore you are in. As with most book signings. You have to purchase the book at the location which means spending at least $15 for a book and wait in line to have the Olsteen's sign it.

Cost nothing to have this book signed.
Both times that I went to see Richard Dawkins he would sign any book you had even other items. To be quite honest I was surprised how committed he was to the fans and the willingness, albeit, tired commitment to making sure everyone was taken care of. This was no small crowd. At The University of Oklahoma the lines must have had several hundreds of people with multiple books some people had as many as a dozen books. Plus you didn't have to purchase the books at that event either. To be sure the line so long I am one to wait to the end plus I was talking to a friend, I actually got a second book and waited through the line a second time and he happily signed it for me. When I had him sign “The Greatest Show on Earth” it was in Queen's University in Charlotte, NC and while the crowd was much smaller he still had 300 people in line. Plus bot of his events were free to the public. I guess Richard Dawkins has more faith in people then Joel Olsteen does in his God.

Back to evangelical Christianity, Most of the great revival throughout American and Western history have been attempts by the ones so lead by their convictions to proclaim the word of God to the masses without restriction. To try to “save” as many as possible. The motivation behind this can best be describe as the speaker or speaker is motivated to save these souls from the punishment of Hell. Seems like a good idea so with that as a motivation and shared by others in the revivals the masses hear the message and if all goes as planned they have some new adherents. While I do not share the motivation of these men and woman I do at least understand their desire to spread their beliefs as freely as possibler. To be quite honest. If one isn't willing to share their religious beliefs I would have to question the sincerity of them.

Men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, preachers of the Great Awakenings of the past centuries up to and including men like Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Binny Hinn and Billy Graham all promoted open and free attendance. They viewed the value of the message too important to restrict those that needed to hear it. Seems they were able to find a way to make it work. Who knows, maybe Joel Olsteen will have the proof of concept of God that I have been looking for but I will not know because I am broke and can't waste that sort of money on something so extravagant.

All this is before, again, we address the sales of books and CDs and other promotional material that the Olsteen's have seemed to mastered several years ago. Also, I would find it hard to believe that a “love offering” is not asked for from the attendee. One has to wonder, how much money does God need? This reminds me of the Great George Carlin's routine about God, “He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

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