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Joel Osteen

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Joel Osteen
Osteen preaching at Lakewood Church in July 2016
Joel Scott Osteen

(1963-03-05) March 5, 1963 (age 61)[1]
ReligionNon-denominational Christianity, Charismatic Christianity, Word of Faith
(m. 1987)
Parent(s)John Osteen (father)
Dolores Pilgrim Osteen (mother)[2]
SchoolHumble High School
Alma materOral Roberts University
RelativesPaul Osteen (brother), Lisa Osteen (sister)
ChurchLakewood Church
Senior posting
PostSenior pastor (1999–present)
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Joel Scott Osteen (born March 5, 1963) is an American pastor, televangelist, businessman, and author based in Houston, Texas, United States. Known for his weekly televised services and several best-selling books, Osteen is one of the more prominent figures associated with prosperity theology and the Word of Faith movement.[3][4][5]

Early life and education

Osteen was born in Houston, 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.[6]

He graduated from Humble High School, a public high school in the city of Humble, Texas, in 1981,[7] and attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he studied radio and television communications but did not graduate.[8][9][10]

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 of a heart attack.[8][11]


Osteen was ordained through his father's church in 1983 and preached his first sermon on January 17, 1999. By October 3, he was the new senior pastor of Lakewood Church.[12] In 2003, Lakewood Church acquired the Compaq Center, former home of the NBA Houston Rockets and the AHL Houston Aeros and subsequently renovated it.[13][14] According to Osteen, in 2008, Lakewood Church's weekly service TV program was viewed in more than 100 countries.[15]

Preaching style

Osteen memorizes his planned remarks before he delivers them, and listens back to previous ones on tape.[16] His sermons have been criticized as self-serving and revealing a poor command of Scripture.[17][18][19][20] Osteen says he chooses to focus more on the goodness of God and on living an obedient life rather than on sin,[21] and that he tries to teach Biblical principles in a simple way, emphasizing the power of love and a positive attitude.[22] 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.[11]


Since 2004, Osteen, along with his wife, have hosted Night of Hope events, as well as their annual stadium event called "America's Night of Hope", in the U.S. and around the world.[23][24][25] The event incorporates contemporary Christian music and inspirational messages to reach the masses at the venue and others watching online.[26] Osteen also hosted an event at his Lakewood Church in 2018, in collaboration with rapper Kanye West, called Sunday Service. According to media reports, the event was attended by 17,000 as well as joined by many people streaming online.[27] He also held his Easter service during COVID-19 with Mariah Carey and Tyler Perry.[28]


On February 11, 2024, a woman with a history of mental health issues, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, accompanied by her 7-year-old son, entered the church between services and began firing an AR-15 rifle. Two off-duty police officers working security returned fire and killed her. Her son was critically injured with a gunshot to the head by the police officers during the exchange of gunfire. Another man who was present was wounded in the hip, treated at a local hospital and released.[29][30]


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.[31]

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[32] and had a first printing of three million copies.[33] Osteen has said that the book focuses more on relationships and not getting stuck where we are in life.[34]

Personal life

On April 4, 1987, Osteen married Victoria Osteen (née Iloff), who later would become co-pastor of Lakewood Church.[35] They have two children.[36] In 2002, some of his siblings, including Paul, were also involved in full-time ministry.[12]

Osteen lives with his family in a 17,000 square-foot mansion in River Oaks, with an estimated value of $10.5 million.[37] Osteen says that as senior pastor, he draws no salary from the church, which has an annual budget of $70 million,[38] and that he instead relies on income from book sales.[39]

Political and social views

Osteen has generally avoided discussing or preaching about controversial issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and politics.[40][41] Having gone on record saying homosexuality is "not God's best",[42] 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.[40][43] 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.[44][45][43][46]

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.[47] In an interview in 2011, Osteen stated his support for Israel.[48]


Prosperity gospel

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.[41][47][49][3] Critics of prosperity gospel consider its teachings anathema to the gospel of Mark:[50]

Jesus, looking at the man, loved him and said, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' When the man heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

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.[22]

Osteen is estimated to have a net worth of over $50 million, with his church taking in $43 million a year in collections.[51] According to the Houston Chronicle, Osteen's church's income was $89 million in the year ending March 2017. More than 90 percent of that was raised from church followers and barely one percent of its budget went to charitable causes.[52] Osteen denied taking any pandemic CARES Act assistance, but U.S. Small Business Administration data revealed his church actually received $4.4 million from the fund.[53]

Hurricane Harvey response

During the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, Osteen was criticized 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.[54][55][56][57][58][59] 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 posted further, "If WE could get there WE WOULD OPEN THE DOORS."[60][61] Lakewood spokesperson Don Iloff later described floodwaters as one foot from spilling over the facility's floodgate and surging into the building.[62] He also stated that pictures showing Lakewood free of flooding were taken on Monday, after the flood waters had lowered.[63][64]

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."[58][65] This contradicted his earlier statement that the church would open when other refugee centers were full.[58][66] 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.[58]

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.[67][68]


In 2011, Osteen and Lakewood Church were sued by the band the American Dollar for copyright infringement.[69] A judge in 2012 ruled in favor of Osteen.[70]


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

Selected works

  • 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)[71]
  • 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)[72]
  • 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)
  • You Are Stronger than You Think: Unleash the Power to Go Bigger, Go Bold, and Go Beyond What Limits You (2021)
  • Rule Your Day: 6 Keys to Maximizing Your Success and Accelerating Your Dreams (2022)
  • Your Greater is Coming: Discover the Path to Your Bigger, Better, and Brighter Future (2022)
  • 15 Ways to Live Longer and Healthier: Life-Changing Strategies for Greater Energy, a More Focused Mind, and a Calmer Soul (2023)
  • Psalms and Proverbs for Everyday Life: 100 Daily Devotions (2023)
  • Believe: Hope Has Your Name on It (2023)
  • Speak the Blessing: Send Your Words in the Direction You Want Your Life to Go (2024)

See also


  1. ^ "Joel Osteen | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica". February 18, 2024.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Pastor John H. Osteen". Houston Chronicle. January 26, 1999. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Perspective | Here's why people hate Joel Osteen". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  4. ^ Bowler, Kate (2013). Blessed : a history of the American prosperity gospel. New York. ISBN 978-0-19-982770-1. OCLC 841172074.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ Romano, Lois (January 30, 2005). "'Smiling Preacher' Builds a Huge Church". Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Joel Osteen Books and Ministry". ChristNotes.org. Archived from the original on June 25, 2012.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b "About Joel". JoelOsteen.com. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  9. ^ Brown, Matthew (October 2, 2013). "Popular positive pastor Joel Osteen brings 'Night of Hope' to Utah". Deseret News. Archived from the original on November 23, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  10. ^ Kellner, Mark A. (September 12, 2022). "Televangelist Osteen baptizes 1,000-plus in four-hour ceremony, first in two years". The Washington Times. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  11. ^ a b "Joel Osteen: The Man Behind America's Largest Church". CBN.com. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Mathieu, Jennifer (April 2, 2002). "Power House". Houston Press. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  13. ^ Somers, Meredith (April 29, 2012). "Osteen draws 40,000 to Nationals Park". The Washington Times. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  14. ^ "Nation's largest church opens in stadium". NBC News. Associated Press. July 17, 2005. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  15. ^ "Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen Ministries. About Pastors Joel & Victoria". Archived from the original on July 29, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  16. ^ Menzie, Nicola (April 25, 2013). "Joel Osteen: By the numbers and other interesting facts". Christian Post.
  17. ^ Miller, Christine; Carlin, Nathan (February 1, 2010). "Joel Osteen as Cultural Selfobject: Meeting the Needs of the Group Self and Its Individual Members in and from the Largest Church in America". Pastoral Psychology. 59 (1): 27–51. doi:10.1007/s11089-009-0197-7 (inactive May 3, 2024). ISSN 1573-6679. S2CID 143635448.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of May 2024 (link)
  18. ^ Butler, Anthea (August 31, 2017). "Opinion | The Cheap Prosperity Gospel of Trump and Osteen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  19. ^ Henderson, Rick (August 21, 2013). "The False Promise Of The Prosperity Gospel: Why I Called Out Joel Osteen And Joyce Meyer". HuffPost. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  20. ^ R., Geiger, Wayne (October 10, 2023). Joel Osteen : a critical analysis of sermonic methodology. University of Central Missouri. ISBN 978-1-109-60661-4. OCLC 651017356.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "Fox News on Osteen". FoxNews.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  22. ^ a b "Joel Osteen Answers His Critics". 60 Minutes. Houston: CBSNews.com. December 23, 2007. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  23. ^ Tucker, Jill (August 8, 2015). "Preaching pep in a troubled world, Joel Osteen comes to AT&T Park". San Francisco Chronicle.
  24. ^ Ibanga, Imaeyen (March 29, 2009). "Pastor Joel Osteen to Give Message of Hope at Yankee Stadium". ABC News.
  25. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (April 29, 2012). "Osteen's 'Night of Hope' draws crowd to Nationals Park". The Washington Post.
  26. ^ Barnhart, Melissa (April 21, 2013). "Joel Osteen at Night of Hope Miami: Relinquish Control to God". The Christian Post.
  27. ^ Smith, Morgan (December 17, 2019). "Joel Osteen on Collaborating with 'Very Genuine' Kanye West: 'We Just Struck Up a Friendship'". People magazine.
  28. ^ Yancey-Bragg, N'dea (April 13, 2020). "5 powerful quotes from livestreamed Easter Sunday services around the world". USA TODAY.
  29. ^ Woman Firing Rifle Killed By 2 Off-Duty Officers At Joel Osteen's Church, 2 Others Hurt, Police Say, Huffington Post, Juan A. Lozano, February 11, 2024. Retrieved February 12, 2024.
  30. ^ Maxouris, Christina; Mascarenhas, Lauren; Miller, John (February 12, 2024). "Shooter at Houston megachurch had lengthy criminal history including weapons charges, police say". CNN.
  31. ^ Hunter, Bob (June 11, 2009). "Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential". equip.org. Christian Research Institute. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  32. ^ Osteen, Joel (August 4, 2009). Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743296922. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  33. ^ Garrett, Lynn (April 13, 2007). "New Osteen Book at Three Million". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  34. ^ "CNN Larry King Live: Interview With Joel and Victoria Osteen". CNN.com. December 22, 2006. Archived from the original on August 29, 2014.
  35. ^ "Joel Birthday-1963-March-05". Archived from the original on August 30, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  36. ^ McCaugherty, Stephen (April 12, 2020). "Joel Osteen's Kids & Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Heavy, Inc. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  37. ^ "Joel Osteen Net Worth: Pastor Closes Megachurch During Hurricane Harvey". ibtimes.com. August 28, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  38. ^ Bogan, Jesse. "A Conversation With Joel Osteen". Forbes. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  39. ^ Wyatt, Edward (March 15, 2006). "Religious Broadcaster Gets Rich Contract for Next Book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  40. ^ a b "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006". 20/20. ABC. December 12, 2006.
  41. ^ a b Blumenthal, Ralph (March 30, 2006). "Joel Osteen's Credo: Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate Prosperity". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  42. ^ "Joel Osteen says homosexuality is not God's best for man". ChristianToday.com. January 28, 2011.
  43. ^ a b Morgan, Piers (January 24, 2011). "CNN.com Video". CNN.com. Archived from the original on March 1, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  44. ^ "Joel Osteen: Being Gay Is A Sin. But I Don't Dislike Gay People (Video)". The Huffington Post. May 2, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  45. ^ Tapper, Jake (March 29, 2013). "Televangelist Joel Osteen on the power of Twitter, and same-sex marriage". CNN.com. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013.
  46. ^ Tenety, Elizabeth (January 28, 2011). "Joel Osteen: 'Homosexuality is a sin'". The Washington Post. p. B2.
  47. ^ a b "Transcript: Pastor Joel Osteen on 'FNS'". FOXNews.com. December 23, 2007. Archived from the original on September 17, 2008. 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.
  48. ^ "Joel Osteen, Israel and the Jews: an exclusive Q&A". JewishJournal.com. January 19, 2011.
  49. ^ Sources:
  50. ^ "Joel Osteen is successful: But does God want us all to be rich?". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  51. ^ Adams, Dwight. "Joel Osteen in Indianapolis: Why the televangelist is so beloved and controversial". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  52. ^ "A preacher for Trump's America: Joel Osteen and the prosperity gospel". Financial Times. April 18, 2019. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  53. ^ "Here's How Joel Osteen and His Tax-Exempt Megachurch Legally Got $4M in COVID-19 Funds". Law & Crime. December 15, 2020. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  54. ^ Kuzydym, Stephanie (August 30, 2017). "Joel Osteen calls claim he shut church doors on Harvey victims 'a false narrative'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  55. ^ Bromwich, Jonah Engel (August 29, 2017). "Joel Osteen Says Lakewood Church Is Open to Harvey Victims After Criticism". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  56. ^ Sinclair, Harriet (August 8, 2017). "Is Joel Osteen's megachurch too flooded to help hurricane Harvey victims?". Newsweek. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  57. ^ 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.
  58. ^ a b c d Kuzydym, Stephanie; Phillips, Christine (August 30, 2017). "Joel Osteen pushes back against accusations he closed his megachurch to Harvey victims". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  59. ^ "Joel Osteen defends not opening megachurch to Harvey victims". NBC News. August 29, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  60. ^ "Joel Osteen's megachurch blasted for lack of outreach during Houston flooding". Fox 13 News. August 29, 2017. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  61. ^ FOX (September 4, 2017). "KWalking – Should Osteen have opened church as a shelter sooner?". KRIV. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  62. ^ Lohr, David (August 29, 2017). "Inside The Megachurch Accused Of Closing Its Doors During Harvey". HuffPost. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  63. ^ Phillips, Stephanie Kuzydym, Kristine. "Joel Osteen pushes back against accusations he closed his megachurch to Harvey victims". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved July 27, 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  64. ^ "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.
  65. ^ "Joel Osteen calls claim he shut church doors on Harvey victims 'a false narrative'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  66. ^ 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". Heavy.com. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  67. ^ "Joel Osteen honored by city of Houston for post-Harvey help". ABC13 Houston. August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  68. ^ 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.
  69. ^ Perkins, Joseph. "Joel Osteen, Church Sued by Band for $3M". Christian Post.
  70. ^ Connelly, Richard (February 21, 2012). "Joel Osteen & Lakewood Mostly Win Copyright Suit Filed by Indie Duo". Houston Press. Archived from the original on September 6, 2017.
  71. ^ "Joel Osteen – Become A Better You – Book Review". Archived from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  72. ^ 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.