Born Name: Joel Scott Osteen
Date of Birth: March 5, 1963
Place of Birth: Houston, Texas, United States
Religion: Non-denominational Christianity, Charismatic Christianity, Evangelical, Word of Faith
Spouse: Victoria Osteen (m. 1987)
Children: Jonathan Osteen, Alexandra Osteen
Parents: John Osteen (father), Dolores Pilgrim Osteen (mother)
School: Humble High School, Texas
Alma mater: Oral Roberts University
Church: Lakewood Church
Official website: joelosteen.com
Joel Scott Osteen (born March 5, 1963) is an American pastor, televangelist, and author, based in Houston, Texas. Osteen has been called the "most popular preacher on the planet" and is often listed as one of the most influential religious leaders in the world.
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. Alongside pastoring America's largest church, Osteen has also written seven #1 New York Times bestselling books.
Early life and family
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. He graduated from Humble High School, a public high school in the city of Humble, Texas, in 1981 and studied at 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. 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.
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. As of 2014, Lakewood's attendance had grown from 5,000 to 43,000.
In 2003, Lakewood Church acquired the Compaq Center, former home of the NBA Houston Rockets. Renovations cost $105 million. The renovations took over 15 months to complete, and included the addition of five stories to add more capacity. Lakewood's 2005 grand opening was attended by an estimated 56,000 people, including Texas Governor Rick Perry and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. According to Osteen in 2008, Lakewood Church's weekly service TV program was viewed in more than 100 countries.
Osteen was included on Barbara Walters's list of the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006. Former presidential candidate John McCain described Osteen as his favorite inspirational author. The Osteen family attended Easter breakfast hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House in 2010.
Osteen's sermon preparation involves memorizing his remarks and listening to himself on tape. Osteen says he chooses to focus more on the goodness of God and on living an obedient life rather than on sin. He says that he tries to teach Biblical principles in a simple way, emphasizing the power of love and a positive attitude. When asked why he does not focus more on sin, the devil and hell in detail, Osteen stated in an interview with CBN News:
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.
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 and had a first printing of three million copies. Osteen has said that the book focuses more on relationships and not getting stuck where we are in life.
Osteen married Lakewood Church co-pastor Victoria Osteen (née Iloff) on April 4, 1987. His older siblings, Paul, Lisa, and Tamara, and his younger sister, April, are also involved in full-time ministry. His half-brother Justin does missionary work and is based in New York.
Osteen's net worth was variably reported to be $40 million and $60 million in 2017. He lives with his family in a 17,000 square-foot mansion in River Oaks, with an estimated value of $10.5 million. Osteen says that as senior pastor, he draws no salary from the church, which has an annual budget of $70 million, and that he instead relies on income from book sales.
Political and social views
Osteen has generally avoided discussing or preaching about controversial issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and politics. 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. When asked if he thought God approves of homosexuality, Osteen said homosexuality is a sin according to his interpretation of Scripture, but stressed gay people are welcome in his church without judgment. Osteen has also stated he does not approve of homophobia.
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. In an interview in 2011, Osteen stated his support for Israel.
Prosperity gospel criticism
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. When asked if he is a prosperity teacher, Osteen responded that if prosperity means God wants people to be blessed and healthy and have good relationships, then he considers himself a prosperity teacher, but if it is about money, he does not. He has specifically stated that he never preaches about money because of the reputation of televangelists.
In an interview with The Christian Post on April 21, 2013, Osteen expressed his sentiments on being perceived as being part of the prosperity gospel. "I get grouped into the prosperity gospel and I never think it's fair, but it's just what it is. I think prosperity, and I've said it 1,000 times, it's being healthy, it's having great children, it's having peace of mind. Money is part of it; and yes, I believe God wants us to excel ... to be blessed so we can be a bigger blessing to others. I feel very rewarded. I wrote a book and sold millions of copies; and Victoria and I were able to help more people than we ever dreamed of. But when I hear the term prosperity gospel, I think people are sometimes saying, 'Well, he's just asking for money'."
Hurricane Harvey response
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 basketball arena, available as an emergency shelter for those displaced by the storm. On Sunday, August 27, posts from the church stated that the building was "inaccessible due to severe flooding," and that normal Lakewood services would be cancelled. After criticism arose, Osteen countered the claim that flood waters closed the church to victims, 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." Osteen argued that Lakewood's announcement about flood waters making the church inaccessible were released to deter congregants who might try to come to weekend services, not to shut doors on victims. On the evening of August 28, it was announced by Lakewood that it would open at noon the next day as an available shelter, opening to storm victims and emergency personnel on August 29. Lakewood spokesperson, Don Iloff, later described floodwaters as one foot from spilling over the facility's floodgate and surging into the building. He also stated that pictures supposedly showing Lakewood free of flooding were taken on Monday, after the flood waters had lowered.
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 Lakewood and Osteen's assistance in rebuild efforts across the Houston area. 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".
In 2011, Osteen and Lakewood Church were sued by the band The American Dollar for copyright infringement. A judge in 2012 ruled in favor of Osteen, but gave The American Dollar leave to amend the case.
- Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (2004)
- Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day (2007)
- Your Best Life Begins Each Morning: Devotions to Start Every Day of the Year (2008)
- Good, Better, Blessed: Living with Purpose, Power and Passion (2008)
- Hope for Today Bible (2009)
- It's Your Time : Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor (2009)
- Living in Favor, Abundance and Joy (2010)
- Every Day 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)
- 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)
- Next Level Thinking: 10 Powerful Thoughts for a Successful and Abundant Life (2018)
Joel Osteen Quotes