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Megachurch Marketing: 30,000 people attend Houston’s Lakewood Church every weekend to hear Pastor Joel Osteen. 7 million more catch his Sunday sermons on TV, which costs $15 million a year. Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, has sold 2.5 million copies. The flourishing Lakewood enterprise brought in $55 million in contributions last year, four times its ‘99 amount. The church is spending $90 million to transform the massive Compaq Center (former home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets) into a church that will seat 16,000, complete with a high-tech stage for the TV shows and Sunday School for 5,000 kids. After it opens in July, Osteen predicts attendance will rocket to 100,000. He is one of a new generation of evangelical entrepreneurs transforming evangelical Protestantism into one of the fastest-growing and most influential religious groups in America. They employ tools ranging from niche marketing to MBA hiring to lift their share of U.S. church goers, meeting all kinds of consumer needs. Many evangelical pastors focus intently on a huge potential market, the millions of Americans who have drifted away from mainline denominations or simply never joined a church in ...

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