General Facts and Figures
- Full name: Joel Scott Osteen
- Net Worth: $40 to $60 Million
- Occupation: Pastor, TV evangelist and author
- Birthday: March 5, 1963
- Birthplace: Houston Texas
- Birth Sign: Pisces
- Marital status: Married to Victoria Osteen
- Education: Humble High School and Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Joel Osteen is an American TV evangelist, pastor and author from Houston Texas. As per Nielsen Media Research, Osteen is the “most-watched inspirational figure in America”. Osteen conducts televised sermons, which have more than 7 million weekly viewers and more than 20 million viewers per month from more than 100 countries. Osteen has also authored 10 books that have topped the New York Times’ Best Seller list.
About Joel Osteen
Born on March 5, 1963, in Houston Texas, Joel Scott Osteen is best known as the televangelical Christian minister and pastor who leads the Lakewood Church, which is among the largest Christian congregations. Osteen is also a popular bestselling author of several Christian books, of which, the most popular is Your Best Life Now.
Early Life and Family
Joel Osteen is the son of Dolores Ann Pilgrim and John Osteen and he has 5 siblings. John Osteen was a Southern Baptist pastor who founded the Lakewood Church and Dolores worked as a nurse. John Osteen started the Lakewood Church in a feed store. In 2017, Osteen’s mother published a memoir titled, If My Heart Could Talk: A Story of Family, Faith, And Miracles. Osteen’s siblings, Lisa, April, Paul, and Tamara are also active full-time members of the ministry. Justin, Osteen’s half-brother, lives in New York and is involved in missionary work.
Osteen studied in Humble High School and attended a public school in Humble, Texas. He graduated from school in 1981, after which, he went to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Osteen studied radio and TV communications; however, he didn’t graduate. In 1982, Osteen decided to quit college after his freshman year.
He decided to return to Houston to help his dad with the church and started Lakewood Church’s TV program and produced his dad’s sermons for around 17 years. In 1999, his father had an unexpected heart attack and died. On 4th April 1987, Osteen married Victoria Iloff, the co-pastor at the Lakewood Church. Currently, Osteen serves in the Lakewood Church along with his wife, Victoria.
For several years, Osteen’s dad urged him to preach; however, Osteen declined every time and preferred to work in production behind the scenes. His father suffered from kidney complications and was admitted to the hospital. Finally, Osteen agreed to preach. He preached his first sermon after he decided to accept his father’s suggestion and Osteen’s 1st sermon was the last that his father heard. Osteen’s father passed away 6 days later after he suffered an unexpected heart attack.
The leadership of the Lakewood Church fell on Osteen and his wife Victoria’s shoulders. Osteen started preaching regularly after his father’s death and on 3rd October 1999, he was appointed as the senior pastor of the Lakewood Church. Ever since the weekly attendance of Lakewood Church grew from around 5,000 people to 28,000 and many services were added to meet this exceptional growth.
As a preacher, Osteen has received many recognitions and accolades and in 2006, Osteen was chosen as one of the 10 Most Fascinating People by Barbara Walters and John McCain, the ex-presidential candidate claimed that Osteen was his favorite inspirational author. In 2019, President Barack Obama invited Osteen and his family for Easter breakfast which was hosted by the President at the White House.
Osteen’s Preaching Style
Osteen usually prepares for his sermons by memorizing his speeches and then recording them on tape and listening to them. According to Osteen, rather than an emphasis on sin, he focuses more on God’s goodness and living a dutiful life. He teaches the principles of the Bible in an easy manner and emphasizing love and positive attitude.
About Lakewood Church
The Lakewood Church was founded and established by John Osteen, the father of Joel Osteen on May 10, 1959, in Houston, Texas. When John Osteen was the pastor of the church, it had around 5,000 members and was one of the fastest-growing churches. The objective of the church is to help all kinds of people, from every walk of life to experience the unending hope and unconditional love that can be found only in a private relationship with Jesus.
Lakewood Church bought the Compaq Center, which was the home of the NBA Houston Rockets in 2003 and made renovations to the tune of $105 million, which took around 18 months to complete. 5 stories were added to the building to accommodate more people and the grand opening was in 2005, which was attended by around 56,000 people, including Rick Perry, Governor of Texas and Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. It is now known as the Lakewood Church Central Campus.
On 15th July 2005, Lakewood held its 1st of the 7 weekly services in its brand-new auditorium which could seat 16,000 people. In that first week, the Lakewood Church had an addition of more than 10,000 members and within a span of 1 year, Lakewood Church became among the most popular destinations in Huston for out-of-town visitors. Over the years, the church has continued to grow and today, it has over 45,000 people who attend the services per week.
The services of Lakewood Church are now present in around 100 countries. And today, the Lakewood Church is among the largest Christian churches and has over 52,000 people who attend per week across the US. The church offers various types of services depending on the members attending. It has the Kidslife service for children, for high school students, it has the Lakewood Youth service and for adults, it has the Main Service. The church has 4 services in English and 2 services in Spanish every week.
About Victoria Osteen
Victoria Osteen belongs to Houston, Texas and started her career by working in the family jewelry business. Her love for the church began quite early in life and while growing up, both her parents were involved in the local church.
Several years later, Victoria met Osteen — they were married — and both of them accompanied Osteen’s father to many mission trips across the world. In these years, Victoria’s passion for the ministry grew and she served in the church in various capacities. She is now the co-pastor and an integral part of Lakewood Church. Victoria wrote her book, Love Your Life in 2008, which ranked No. 2 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Victoria also writes books for children and her books include Unexpected Treasures, My Happy Heart and Gifts from the Heart.
Television, Radio and Internet
The church is impacting the lives of people across the globe radically via its live, online and televised church services. Apart from being televised across 100 countries, Osteen’s sermons are also streamed live on the internet.
The weekly services of the Lakewood Church and Osteen’s sermons can be seen on local channels such as Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar Television Network and also on several national channels like Fox Network, USA Network and Freeform. The sermons are aired in over 100 countries and has over 7 million viewers per week.
In 2014, Joel Osteen Radio was launched by Sirius XM and channel No. 128 was dedicated to Osteen and Victoria’s inspirational messages with the teachings being broadcast 24×7 on the channel. Also, over the last 8 years, over 2 million people have attended Osteen and Victoria’s Night of Hope events that are held across the United States and in many countries across the world.
In October 2004, Osteen released his first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. The book ranked No.1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. In October 2007, he released his 2nd book titled, Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, which also topped the New York Times Best Seller List and 4 million copies of the book were printed in the first run. According to Osteen, “the book focuses on relationships and the idea is not to get stuck where we are.”
Osteen released other books such as Hope for Today Bible in 2008. In 2011, he released Every Day A Friday: How To Be Happier 7 Days A Week, The Power Of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today in 2015 and in 2017, the book, Blessed In The Darkness: How All Things Are Working For Your Good was released.
As of 2017, Osteen’s net worth is estimated to be in the range of $40 to $60 million. Osteen lives in River Oaks in a 17,000 sq. ft. mansion, along with his family that is estimated to be around $10.5 million. Osteen says that he does not take any salary from the Lakewood Church of which he is the senior pastor, even though the church has a budget of around $70 million per annum. He also owns a luxury yacht.
Osteen’s Political and Social Views
In general, Osteen avoids discussing controversial topics like abortion, gay marriage and politics. However, when he was asked his opinion on same-sex marriage, Osteen stated that he opposed it.
He said that he did not preach about homosexuality because he believes that God accepts and approves of everyone. And when he was asked if God approved of homosexuality, he stated that according to scripture, homosexuality is sin; however, he welcomed gay people into his church.
Osteen said that no individual is perfect and it is part of human nature to sin. He does not judge anyone and God is the judge. He stated that an individual can be free from homosexuality and God can free anyone of any addiction or sin. He stated that he did not support homophobia and his faith has its basis in the scriptures. He also stated that the church tended to be too excessively focused on certain issues like homosexuality while neglecting other issues.
In 2008, in a Fox News interview, during the Presidential primary race of the Republican party, Osteen said that he thought that Mormons were Christians. He also stated that he had never studied religion.
Criticism for Prosperity Gospel
Considered as being one of the richest pastors, Osteen’s sermons and his writings have been censured for endorsing prosperity gospel, which is also called the “health and wealth gospel”. The theology essentially supports the belief that material gain is God’s will for all Christians who are pious. On 14th October 2007, a 12-minute segment was aired on 60 minutes, which was titled, Joel Osteen Answers his Critics. In the program, Michael Horton, the reformed theologian told Byron Pitts, CBS correspondent that Osteen’s message is sacrilege. Horton claimed that the issue with Osteen’s message is that it made religion about people and not about God.
When Osteen was asked if he was a prosperity teacher, he stated that if prosperity meant God wanting people to be healthy, blessed and have good relationships, then he considered himself to be a prosperity teacher; however, if it is related to money, then he is not. He also stated that because of the reputation that television evangelists have, he does not preach about money.
On 21 April 2013, in a Christian Post interview, Osteen articulated his feelings on being identified as part of the prosperity gospel. He claimed that he is categorized into the prosperity gospel and does not think that it is fair. He believes that prosperity is to be healthy, having children and peace of mind and money is an integral part of it. He believes that if they excel and are blessed, then they can be a greater blessing to others and in turn, feel rewarded.
Response to Hurricane Harvey
In August 2017, when Hurricane Harvey struck, Osteen faced serious criticism for refusing to open up the 606,000 sq. ft. Lakewood Church as a shelter for the people who had been affected by the storm. However, in response to this, on 27
Later, the spokesperson of the Lakewood Church, Don Iloff described that the floodwaters were close to spilling over the church’s floodgate and rushing into the church building. He also claimed that the photos taken of the Lakewood Church without any flooding were taken after the floodwaters had receded on Monday.
Later, Osteen contradicted the claim that the church was closed because of the floodwaters and stated that Lakewood had been open for the refugees from the start. This was a complete contradiction to the statement he made earlier, which stated that the church would be opened when the other centers for refugees were full. On the 28th of August, in the evening, Lakewood Church announced that it would open the following noon and be available as a shelter and it opened its doors to the storm victims on 29th August.
On 15th August 2018, the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner and Huston City declared “Lakewood Church Day” as an honor for the assistance of the Lakewood Church and Osteen in the rebuilding efforts undertaken in the Houston area. It claimed that the Lakewood Church and the pastors had assisted over 1,150 families in Huston whose homes had been destroyed or damaged by the floodwaters and that they had brought $1.1 million worth of building materials, labor, appliances and furniture and also via the contributions of over 2,500 volunteers.
The Lakewood Church and Osteen were sued for copyright infringement The American Dollar, a band in 2011. In 2012, the court ruled in Osteen’s favor; however, it allowed The American Dollar to revise the case.
Social Media Presence
Apart from being very active in the Lakewood Church and a top-rated author, Osteen is extremely active across various social media platforms, which he uses to promote his books and upcoming projects and post the videos of his sermons. On his Instagram account, Osteen has over 3.4 million followers. He started his Twitter account in February 2009, where he has over 9.01 million followers and has tweeted around 18.5k times. Osteen also has a channel on YouTube, where he has around 967k subscribers. He has an account on Facebook and an official website too.