John Osteen

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John Osteen
Religion Non-denominational Christianity
Church Lakewood Church
Born John Hillery Osteen
(1921-08-21)August 21, 1921
Paris, Texas
Died January 23, 1999(1999-01-23) (aged 77)
Houston, Texas
Spouse Emma Jean Shaffer (divorced); Dolores (Dodie) Pilgrim Osteen (m. 1954–1999; his death)
Children 6 children: Justin Osteen, Paul, Lisa, April, Tamara, and pastor Joel Osteen (Victoria)
Senior posting
Title Founder and Senior Pastor, Lakewood Church
Religious career
Website Lakewood Church website

John Hillery Osteen (August 21, 1921 – January 23, 1999) was the founder and first pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, from its beginnings in 1959 until his death in 1999. His son Joel Osteen then succeeded him as pastor.

Life and work[edit]

Osteen was born on August 21, 1921, in Paris, Texas.[1] He earned his bachelor's degree from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and his master's degree from Northern Baptist Seminary. He also held a Doctorate of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University.[2]

In his biography, John said he did not begin thinking seriously about God until 1939, after leaving a nightclub he frequented. Within a couple of months, he began preaching in Paris, Texas and was apparently ordained to the gospel ministry shortly before his 18th birthday by a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. He served as an Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church in San Diego after completing his studies at NBTS and by the late 1940s as a minister at First Baptist Church, Hamlin, Texas. John left Hamlin in 1948 to become an itinerant preacher, but within a year he became pastor of Central Baptist Church, Baytown, Texas.

During his pastorate of Central Baptist Church, Osteen and his first wife, Emma Jean Shaffer, began to experience marital unrest and subsequently divorced. He married Dolores "Dodie" Pilgrim (b. October 22, 1933 in Paris, Texas) on September 17, 1954, a young lady, who is 12 years his junior, and the following year resigned his pastorate. In an 2009 interview with the Houston Chronicle, his widow said how he first met John: "He was my pastor when I was younger. After high school, I went to nurses school. I noticed that he began to come in, and thought it was to visit with patients. And finally I said, 'He’s got the sickest people in the world because he comes in here so often.' And then one day I finally realized he was coming to see me. And we fell in love. For six months after we began dating I called him 'Brother Osteen.'"[3] Before long, Osteen again entered pastoral ministry at Hibbard Memorial Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, but left in 1958.

That same year, John and Dodie's first daughter Lisa was born with severe health issues. As he wrestled with her circumstance, his theological beliefs began to shift and he had ecstatic religious experiences, based on what he called "baptism of the Holy Ghost." A year later, on Mother's Day May 10, 1959, he and Dodie started Lakewood Baptist Church in "a dusty, abandoned feed store" in northeast Houston as a church for charismatic Baptists.[4] The church soon dropped "Baptist" from its name and became independent and nondenominational.

In the mid-1980s, Osteen launched the Lakewood Bible Institute (LBI), an "unaccredited school devoted to biblical training from a charismatic perspective." LBI offered a variety of classes including principles of Bible study, healing, conversion, and prayer. Osteen served as LBI's president until its closure in the late-1980s.[5]

Lakewood Church[edit]

Main article: Lakewood Church

John Osteen founded Lakewood Church in 1959 in Houston, Texas and developed Lakewood into a body of approximately 15,000 members with active ministries in televangelism, conferences, missionary support, and food distribution.[6] He hosted the weekly John Osteen television program for 16 years, reaching millions in the U.S. and in many other countries with his preaching. On January 23, 1999 he died after a heart attack at the age of 77. His youngest son Joel Osteen later succeeded him as pastor.


  1. ^ "John Osteen's Biography". The John Osteen Television Program. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  2. ^ "From the Oasis of Love to Your Best Life Now: A Brief History of Lakewood Church" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  3. ^ "50 years later, Dodie Osteen is Lakewood's 'Queen Mother'". 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  4. ^ "A Tribute to Pastor John Osteen". Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  5. ^ "From the Oasis of Love to Your Best Life Now: A Brief History of Lakewood Church" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  6. ^ "Popular Texas evangelist John Osteen dies". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 

External links[edit]