The Life, Family, Biography and Ministry of Joel Osteen
Joel Scott Osteen was born on the 5th of March 1963 in Houston Texas; he is one of the six children of John Osteen and Dolores (Dodie) Pilgrim Osteen.
John Osteen was formerly a Southern Baptist church before he founded Lakewood church in an old food store.
Joel Osteen attended the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma, where he studied Radio and Television communication, but he didn’t graduate. In 1982, he returned to Huston and founded the Lakewood television program, where he produced his father televised sermons for 17 years until January 1999 when his father died unexpectedly from a heart attack.
Joel Osteen never intended to be a Pastor even though has father encouraged him to preach for so many years but he declined preferring to work behind the scenes until January 17, 1999, when his father’s suggestion and he preached his first sermon.
John Osteen died almost a week (6 days) after Joel accepted to preach, his father died of a heart attack.
Two weeks after the death of his father he started preaching regularly and later became a senior pastor of Lakewood church on October 3, 1999.
The Lakewood Church attendance was about 5000 when he became the senior pastor but he has grown the attendance to over 40,000.
As the church was increasing in attendance, there was need to move to a bigger auditorium and Joel has always known that his father does not want the next church to be too far away from the first church so he went looking for a place close and they got one but when it was time for them to make the payment, the agent told them that he already sold it a day before. Joel was disappointed but Victoria told him to be cool that god was planning something better. Just as she has said, not long after the Houston Rockets were leaving the Compaq center their former home, it was also closer than the first place they got. They were able to acquire the place in 2003 and that is now the Lakewood church. The renovations cost $105 million and it took 15 months to complete, including the addition of five stories to increase the capacity.
In 2005, the Lakewood church renovation was finally completed. The ground opening was attended by 56,000 people, including Texas governor Rick Perry and house minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Now Lakewood church services are viewed in over 100 countries of the world.
Joel has developed his own approach to preaching which includes listening to himself in tapes and memorizing his remarks. So many people has asked him why he does not focus on sin and hell but he said that he choose to focus more on the goodness of God and living in obedience rather than sin. He also said he tries to teach the biblical principles the simple way, emphasizing on love and positive attitude.
His first book, Your best life now: 7 steps to living at your full potential was released in October 2004 and reaches the number 1 position on The New York Times best seller list
he released his second book “Become a better you: seven keys to improving your life everyday” in October 2007 and it also took 1st position on The New York Times best seller list and had a first print of four million copies. The book focuses more on relationships.
Joel has stopped collecting salary from the church, which has an annual budget of $70 million. He relies on the income from books and most of the contents of his books come from sermons he has preached.
Joel got married to Victoria on April 4, 1987. They have a son (Jonathan Osteen) and a daughter (Alexandria Osteen). His older siblings (Paul, Lisa and Tamara) and a younger sister (April) are all into full time ministry. His half brother Justin is a missionary In New York.
Joel Osteen has avoided discussing about controversial issues such as politics, abortion and gay marriage. When he is asked about gay marriage, he says he opposes it and also refuses to preach about it because of his belief that God likes, accepts and approves of all people. He also said that homosexuality is a sin according to scriptures and that gay people are welcome in his church. He said that sin is human nature and nobody is perfect and that he is not judging but God is the Judge.
he also believe that a person can be freed from a life style of homosexuality; it is a process and that God can free anyone from any sin or addiction.
Joel’s sermons and writings are sometimes criticized for prompting prosperity gospel, a belief that material gain is a reward for pious Christian.
When he is asked if he is a prosperity teacher, he will respond that if prosperity means that God wants people to be blessed and healthy and have good relationships, then he consider himself a prosperity teacher but if it is about money he does not.
Joel was selected by Barbara Walters as one of her 10 most fascinating people of 2006.
Former presidential candidate John McCain has described Joel as his favorite inspirational author.
The Osteen’s family attended Easter breakfast hosted by former President Barack Obama at the White house in 2010.