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Joel Osteen

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Joel Osteen
Joel Osteen Preaching (cropped).jpg
Osteen preaching at Lakewood Church, August 12, 2018
Joel Scott Osteen

(1963-03-05) March 5, 1963 (age 58)
ReligionNon-denominational Christianity, Charismatic Christianity, Word of Faith
(m. 1987)
ParentsJohn Osteen (father)
Dolores Pilgrim Osteen (mother)[1]
SchoolHumble High School, Texas
Alma materOral Roberts University
ChurchLakewood Church
Senior posting
PostSenior pastor (1999–present)
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Joel Scott Osteen (born March 5, 1963)[2] is an American pastor, televangelist, and author, based in Houston, Texas. As of 2018, Osteen's televised sermons were seen by approximately 10 million viewers in the US and several million more in over 100 countries weekly.[3] Osteen has also written several best-selling books.[4]

Early life and family[edit]

Osteen was born in Houston, Texas, and is one of six children of John Osteen and Dolores ("Dodie") Pilgrim. His father, a former Southern Baptist pastor, founded Lakewood Church (of which Osteen is the current senior pastor) in the back of an old feed store.[5] He graduated from Humble High School, a public high school in the city of Humble, Texas, in 1981,[6] and attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he studied radio and television communications, but did not graduate; he did not receive a degree from a divinity school.[7][8] In 1982, he returned to Houston, founded Lakewood's television program, and produced his father's televised sermons for 17 years until January 1999, when his father died unexpectedly from a heart attack.[7][9]


Osteen's father encouraged him to preach for many years, but he declined, preferring to work behind the scenes until January 17, 1999, when he accepted his father's suggestion and preached his first sermon. John Osteen died six days later of a heart attack. Two weeks after his father's death, Osteen began preaching regularly and later that year was installed as the new senior pastor of Lakewood Church on October 3, 1999.[10] As of 2014, Lakewood's attendance had grown from 5,000 to 43,000.[11]

In 2003, Lakewood Church acquired the Compaq Center, former home of the NBA Houston Rockets and the AHL Houston Aeros. Renovations cost $105 million.[12] The renovations took over 15 months to complete, and included the addition of five stories to add more capacity.[13] Lakewood's 2005 grand opening was attended by an estimated 56,000 people, including Texas Governor Rick Perry and then-House Minority Leader and future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.[14] According to Osteen in 2008, Lakewood Church's weekly service TV program was viewed in more than 100 countries.[15] Lakewood Church estimates that 7 million viewers per week watch the services.[16][circular reference]

Osteen was included on Barbara Walters's list of the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006.[17][18] Former presidential candidate John McCain described Osteen as his favorite inspirational author.[19] The Osteen family attended Easter breakfast hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House in 2010.[20]

Preaching style[edit]

Osteen's sermon preparation involves memorizing his remarks and listening to himself on tape.[21] Osteen says he chooses to focus more on the goodness of God and on living an obedient life rather than on sin.[22] He says that he tries to teach Biblical principles in a simple way, emphasizing the power of love and a positive attitude.[23] When asked why he does not focus more on sin, the devil and hell in detail, Osteen stated in an interview with CBN News:

When I grew up, the devil was a reason why I had a headache or the devil was the reason I got mad today. We always blamed the devil. I think today when I say the enemy, I like to make it broader. Sometimes the enemy can be our own thoughts. We've trained ourselves the wrong way. Or the enemy can be our own lack of discipline. Some people preach about hell like you're already going there, and to me the Gospel means 'Good News.' I'd rather say God is a God of mercy. So I think the people already know what they're doing wrong, and I certainly believe in hell. But to me, when I see thousands of people before me, it just doesn't come out of me to say, 'You guys are terrible, and you're going to hell.' I'd rather say that God is a God of mercy. You've got to live an obedient life, but for every mistake you've made, there's mercy there, and I believe we can do better.[9]


Osteen's first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, was released in October 2004, and reached the number 1 position on The New York Times Best Seller list.[24]

He released his second book, titled Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, in October 2007. It also topped The New York Times Best Seller list[25] and had a first printing of three million copies.[26] Osteen has said that the book focuses more on relationships and not getting stuck where we are in life.[27]

Personal life[edit]

On April 4, 1987, Osteen married Victoria Osteen (née Iloff), who later would become copastor of Lakewood Church.[2] They have a son and daughter.[28] In 2002, his older siblings, Paul, Lisa, and Tamara, and his younger sister, April, were also involved in full-time ministry, and his half-brother Justin was doing missionary work.[10]

Osteen lives with his family in a 17,000 square-foot mansion in River Oaks, with an estimated value of $10.5 million.[29] Osteen says that as senior pastor, he draws no salary from the church, which has an annual budget of $70 million,[30] and that he instead relies on income from book sales.[31]

Political and social views[edit]

Osteen has generally avoided discussing or preaching about controversial issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and politics.[17][32] Having gone on record saying homosexuality is "not God's best" [33], he has stated he believes the church has a tendency to become overly focused on single issues (such as homosexuality) to the point of neglecting others.[17][34] When asked if he thought God approves of homosexuality, Osteen said homosexuality is a sin according to his interpretation of Scripture, but said gay people are welcome in his church without judgment.[35][36][34][37]

In an interview on Fox News in 2008 during the Republican Party presidential primary race, when discussing whether he thought that Mormons were Christians, Osteen indicated that he believed that they were. He further revealed that he had not studied the religion.[38] In an interview in 2011, Osteen stated his support for Israel.[39]


Prosperity gospel criticism[edit]

Osteen's sermons and writings are sometimes criticized for promoting prosperity theology, or the prosperity gospel, a belief that the reward of material gain is the will of God for all pious Christians.[32][38][40][41][42][43][44]

On October 14, 2007, 60 Minutes ran a 12-minute segment on Osteen, titled "Joel Osteen Answers His Critics", during which Reformed theologian Michael Horton told CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts that Osteen's message is heresy. Horton stated that the problem with Osteen's message is that it makes religion about us instead of about God.[45]

Osteen is estimated to have a net worth of over $50 million, with his church taking in $43 million a year in collections.[4]

Hurricane Harvey response[edit]

During the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, Osteen received significant criticism for not making Lakewood Church, a 606,000-square-foot, 16,000-seat former sports arena, available as an emergency shelter for those displaced by the storm.[46][47][48][49][50] On August 27, posts from the church and a Lakewood Church associate pastor's social media accounts stated that the church was "inaccessible due to severe flooding," and associate pastor John Gray posting further, "If WE could get there WE WOULD OPEN THE DOORS."[51][52] Lakewood spokesperson Don Iloff later described floodwaters as one foot from spilling over the facility's floodgate and surging into the building.[53] He also stated that pictures showing Lakewood free of flooding were taken on Monday, after the flood waters had lowered.[54][55]

Osteen disputed the claim that flood waters closed the church, saying "the church has been open from the beginning," and, "[w]e've always been open ... How this notion got started, that we're not a shelter and we're not taking people in is a false narrative."[50][56] This contradicted his earlier statement that the church would open when other refugee centers were full.[50][57] On the evening of August 28, it was announced by Lakewood that it would open at noon the next day as an available shelter to storm victims and emergency personnel, which it did.[50]

On August 15, 2018, less than a year after Harvey struck, the City of Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed a day in honor of the assistance of Lakewood and Osteen in rebuilding efforts across the Houston area.[58][59] It stated Lakewood and its pastors have provided "assistance to more than 1,150 Houston-area families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by floodwaters" and bought "1.1 million dollars in building materials, furniture, appliances, and paid labor, as well as through the contribution of more than 2,500 volunteers".[60]


In 2011, Osteen and Lakewood Church were sued by the band The American Dollar for copyright infringement.[61] A judge in 2012 ruled in favor of Osteen, but gave The American Dollar leave to amend the case.[62]

In 2020 Osteen's Lakewood Church received $4.4 million in federal PPP loans (COVID relief) which is seen as controversial.[63]


List of film and television appearances
Year Title Role Notes
2007 Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi Himself Documentary
2014 Words of Art Himself Documentary
2015 I Hope You Dance: The Power and Spirit of Song Himself Documentary
2017 The Star Caspar Voice role

Partial list of books[edit]

  • Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (2004)
  • Daily Readings from Your Best Life Now: 90 Devotions for Living at Your Full Potential (2005)
  • Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day (2007)[64]
  • Your Best Life Begins Each Morning: Devotions to Start Every New Day of the Year (2008)
  • It's Your Time : Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor (2009)[65]
  • It's Your Time: Finding Favor, Restoration, and Abundance in Your Life Every Day (2009)
  • Everyday a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week (2011)
  • I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life (2012)
  • Break Out!: 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life (2013)
  • You Can You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner (2014)
  • Fresh Start: the New You Begins Today (2015)
  • The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today (2015)
  • Think Better, Live Better: A Victorious Life Begins in Your Mind (2016)
  • Blessed in the Darkness: How All Things Are Working for Your Good (2017)
  • Empty Out the Negative (2017)
  • Next Level Thinking: 10 Powerful Thoughts for a Successful and Abundant Life (2018)
  • The Power of Favor: The Force That Will Take You Where You Can't Go on Your Own (2019)
  • The Abundance Mind-Set: Success Starts Here (2020)
  • Peaceful on Purpose: The Power to Remain Calm, Strong, and Confident in Every Season (2021)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Obituary: Pastor John H. Osteen". Houston Chronicle. January 26, 1999. Retrieved November 12, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Joel Birthday-1963-March-05". Archived from the original on August 30, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  3. ^ "Overcomer with Joel Osteen on DStv Channel 343". TBN Africa. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Adams, Dwight. "Joel Osteen in Indianapolis: Why the televangelist is so beloved and controversial". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  5. ^ Christ Notes, Joel Osteen Books and Ministry Archived June 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Phillip Luke Sinitiere (November 13, 2015). Salvation with a Smile: Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, and American Christianity. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814708149. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "About Joel". Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  8. ^ "Popular positive pastor Joel Osteen brings 'Night of Hope' to Utah". October 2, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Joel Osteen: The Man Behind America's Largest Church". Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Matthieu, Jennifer (April 2, 2002). "Power House". Houston Press. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  11. ^ "Joel Osteen". World Vision. Archived from the original on February 17, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  12. ^ Somers, Meredith (April 29, 2012). "Osteen draws 40,000 to Nationals Park". The Washington Times. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "Nation's largest church opens in stadium". NBC News. Associated Press. July 17, 2005. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  14. ^ "God's Stadium". Houston Press. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  15. ^ "Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen Ministries. About Pastors Joel & Victoria". Archived from the original on July 29, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  16. ^ Lakewood Church
  17. ^ a b c "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006". 20/20. ABC. December 12, 2006.
  18. ^ Kwon, Lillian (December 11, 2006). "Joel Osteen Dubbed 'Most Fascinating'". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2018.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ Tibbs, Jonathan J (June 20, 2013). "A Story of Joel Osteen". CNN iReport. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  20. ^ "Osteen and others attend White House Easter breakfast". Houston Chronicles. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  21. ^ "Joel Osteen: By the numbers and other interesting facts". Christian Post. April 25, 2013.
  22. ^ "Fox News on Osteen". Fox News. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  23. ^ "Joel Osteen Answers His Critics". CBS News. October 11, 2007. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  24. ^ Hunter, Bob. "Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential". Christian Research Institute. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  25. ^ Osteen, Joel (August 4, 2009). Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day. ISBN 9780743296922. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  26. ^ "New Osteen Book at Three Million". Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  27. ^ CNN Larry King Live: Interview With Joel and Victoria Osteen. December 11, 2006. Archived August 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ McCaugherty, Stephen (April 12, 2020). "Joel Osteen's Kids & Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy, Inc. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  29. ^ "Joel Osteen Net Worth: Pastor Closes Megachurch During Hurricane Harvey". August 28, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  30. ^ Bogan, Jesse. "A Conversation With Joel Osteen". Forbes. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  31. ^ Wyatt, Edward (March 15, 2006). "Religious Broadcaster Gets Rich Contract for Next Book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  32. ^ a b Blumenthal, Ralph (March 30, 2006). "Joel Osteen's Credo: Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate Prosperity". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b Piers Morgan (January 24, 2011). " Video". CNN. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  35. ^ "Joel Osteen: Being Gay Is A Sin, But I Don't Dislike Gay People". The Huffington Post. May 2, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  36. ^ Tapper, Jake (March 29, 2013). "Televangelist Joel Osteen on the power of Twitter, and same-sex marriage". CNN.
  37. ^ Tenety, Elizabeth (January 28, 2011). "Joel Osteen: 'Homosexuality is a sin'". The Washington Post. p. B2.
  38. ^ a b "Transcript: Pastor Joel Osteen on 'FNS'". FOX News. December 23, 2007. Retrieved May 13, 2011. Now, as with most successful people, you have critics who say that what you offer is gospel 'lite,' the prosperity gospel.
  39. ^ (January 19, 2011). "Joel Osteen, Israel and the Jews: an exclusive Q&A — Jewish Journal".
  40. ^ Stephen Brooks (2013). American Exceptionalism in the Age of Obama. p. 51. ISBN 9780415636414. ... Joel Osteen and T. D. Jakes, the most prominent contemporary messengers of the prosperity gospel ...
  41. ^ "Does God Want You to Be Rich?". Time. September 10, 2006. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 'Does God want us to be rich?' [Osteen] asks. 'When I hear that word rich, I think people say, 'Well, he's preaching that everybody's going to be a millionaire.' I don't think that's it.' Rather, [Osteen] explains, 'I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. It's all relative, isn't it?' ...
  42. ^ Cathleen Falsani. "The Prosperity Gospel". Washington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 'God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us,' Osteen wrote in a 2005 letter to his flock. ...
  43. ^ "Meet the Prosperity Preacher". Business Week. May 23, 2005. Archived from the original on March 27, 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2015. Osteen is also a leading proponent of what is sometimes called the 'prosperity gospel', which teaches that God wants people to prosper in all areas of their lives—including material success.
  44. ^ Pastor Rick Henderson, The False Promise of the Prosperity Gospel: Why I Called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, The Huffington Post, 2013.08.21
  45. ^ "Joel Osteen Answers his Critics". CBS News 60 Minutes. October 14, 2007. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  46. ^ Kuzydym, Stephanie (August 30, 2017). "Joel Osteen calls claim he shut church doors on Harvey victims 'a false narrative'". Washington Post. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  47. ^ Bromwich, Jonah Engel (August 29, 2017). "Joel Osteen Says Lakewood Church Is Open to Harvey Victims After Criticism". New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  48. ^ Sinclair, Harriet (August 8, 2017). "Is Joel Osteen's megachurch too flooded to help hurricane Harvey victims?". Newsweek. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  49. ^ Associated Press (August 29, 2017). "After criticism, televangelist Joel Osteen denies closing Houston megachurch to people seeking shelter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  50. ^ a b c d Kuzydym, Stephanie; Phillips, Christine (August 30, 2017). "Joel Osteen pushes back against accusations he closed his megachurch to Harvey victims". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  51. ^ "Joel Osteen's megachurch blasted for lack of outreach during Houston flooding". Fox 13 News. August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  52. ^ FOX (September 4, 2017). "KWalking - Should Osteen have opened church as a shelter sooner?". KRIV. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  53. ^ Lohr, David (August 29, 2017). "Inside The Megachurch Accused Of Closing Its Doors During Harvey". HuffPost. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  54. ^ Phillips, Stephanie Kuzydym, Kristine. "Joel Osteen pushes back against accusations he closed his megachurch to Harvey victims". Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  55. ^ "Hurricane Harvey Flood: Joel Osteen Didn't Turn People Away, Says There Was Safety Issue At Lakewood Church". The Inquisitr. August 31, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  56. ^ "Joel Osteen calls claim he shut church doors on Harvey victims 'a false narrative'". Washington Post. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  57. ^ McAteer, Oliver (August 29, 2017). "Pastor opens his megachurch for shelter after video showing it empty". Metro. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
    Prince, S.J. (August 29, 2017). "PHOTO: Joel Osteen's Wikipedia Trolled Over Church's Response to Hurricane Harvey". Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  58. ^ "Joel Osteen honored by city of Houston for post-Harvey help". ABC13 Houston. August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  59. ^ Martin, Florian (August 14, 2018). "Lakewood Church Receives Mayor's Proclamation for Harvey Support – After Initial Criticism | Houston Public Media". Houston Public Media. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  60. ^ "Lakewood Church pastors recognized for work during Hurricane Harvey". FOX 26 Houston. August 14, 2018. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  61. ^ "Joel Osteen, Church Sued by Band for $3M". Christian Post.
  62. ^ "Joel Osteen & Lakewood Mostly Win Copyright Suit Filed by Indie Duo". Houston Press.
  63. ^ "Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church got 4.4M in PPP". Houston Chronicle.
  64. ^ "Joel Osteen – Become A Better You – Book Review". Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  65. ^ Osteen, Joel (October 1, 2009). It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Anticipate God's Favor. Simon & Schuster, Limited. ISBN 9781847376572. Retrieved April 16, 2017 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]