Lakewood church in Houston has over 29,000 members. The small European country of Liechtenstein has a population of just over 33,000. For Joel Osteen, the church's pastor, the size is just about right for their congregation.
"Quite frankly we've outgrown the Houston area." Said Osteen. "It's time to look elsewhere, perhaps at a place where our whole church family can stick together and live closely."
During services this past Sunday Osteen unveiled his vision before the congregation which now meets in a former sports arena. Osteen stressed the need for unity among the members of the congregation.
"It's time for us to take our vision elsewhere." He stated. "We need a place we can call our own. It's time to start thinking towards the future, and our future is in having our own country. The vision begins here today. We're going to purchase Liechtenstein and call it Laketenstein!"
The congregation's response was more than enthusiastic, and now the church has committed itself to a 5 billion dollar fund raising campaign to establish its own country.
"We hope to meet this goal in 5 years." Said Osteen. "We have some very generous people in our church, and already we've raised a substantial amount of money. There are so many advantages, though, to us making this move. We'll basically have complete autonomy in what we do as a church. Citizenship in our country will be the same as being a member. I will, of course, be ruler of the country, but we'll have other leaders as well. We'll govern ourselves, have our own businesses and such, and a tourist will simply be referred to as a 'visitor.'"
While the Laketenstein Campaign began with much enthusiasm, there are still a number of questions that must be answered and obstacles to be overcome, namely getting the purchase approved by the Liechtenstein government and where to put of the current citizens.
"I've got an email in to Hans-Adam II, the prince." Said Osteen. "I haven't heard back from him yet about the purchase, so that might delay our efforts a bit. Some people have already asked me what we're going to do about Liechtenstein's current citizens, and we've already thought about that. Those that wish to join our congregation and learn English will be able to join our congregation of Laketenstein. Those who do not want to join will be relocated to either Germany, Switzerland or Austria."