I have a theory about church calendars: they suck in people with social events that have nothing at all to do with theology, so the people become so dependent on the church that they really can't leave even if they do crack open the Bible and see what an incoherent mess it is.
In my case, just having a great organist was enough to keep me coming for awhile. As a child I kept going because I enjoyed singing in the choir. That's the Episcopalian way. It's probably why the Episcopal church is losing members. And now that the "faithful" are mainly blue-haired old ladies, it's too late to start up a softball team.
As I drove through small towns in Indiana over the weekend I kept wondering what there was do to in these places besides work the farm and go to church. Some of these towns were so small they didn't even have bars!
Some of the people I know here are in churches that fill up their schedules with the kind of thing you'd have to live in a small town to find interesting. In a big city you'd have a million more interesting things to do on a Saturday night. In a small town you might have a choice between church bingo and a spaghetti dinner at a different church. So I have a bit of sympathy for small-town Christians. They don't know any better.
Their schedule is truly frightening. They have a series of psychobabble "courses" and they promote it with this lovely line: "We would love for you to join us for the entire series and join your faith with ours to see God’s abundance brought forth in the area of your finances in 2011!" (Osteen is famous for "prosperity theology")
They also have a movie night. What does watching "Secretariat" and eating popcorn have to do with being a Christian?
Osteen has also brought his wife into a leadership role as "co-pastor." This is something I think I've seen before, though it's not like I obsess about churches. Still... the preacher's wife is supposed to be a kind of adjunct preacher in these fundy churches. Osteen and his wife have a blog together. I'd post the header photo but it's just too creepy. Their most popular post has this gem: "Today, you may feel like you're in the back of the line and nothing is going your way, but get ready because God is about to turn things around for you!"
Yep, self-centered theology at its best! I haven't read all their blog posts but I have read enough to be thorougly disgusted. There's nothing about charity, kindness, being part of a loving society, etc. Meanwhile, "evil" evolution is starting to probe how these behaviors are adaptive and part of our instinctive behaviors.
So.... it's not really theology that's appealing, though being taken care of by a sky-daddy after your death is a comforting idea. The real draw for country people is having something to do, and for city people it's almost the same. If you were new in Houston and wanted to make new friends, the ladies' night out movie and popcorn event would be a safe way to meet people.
Fortunately, in the age of the internet we can find friendships online or through online searches for events we find interesting. If I were to move to Houston, I'd look for atheist meet-ups, or a club that would involve my hobbies. If I were to move to small-town Indiana I probably wouldn't get out much, but I do wonder how long it would take for me to feel lonesome enough to go to the local church's spaghetti dinner or bingo night. And then once I did I'd play "spot the other atheist" in the room, looking for the other people who roll their eyes at the mention of God or praying.