"I'm going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell." -- Joel Osteen
Joel Osteen (born March 5, 1963) is an American best-selling author and the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. His ministry reaches over seven million broadcast media viewers weekly in over 100 nations around the world.
"A good thing to remember is somebody's got it a lot worse than we do.""A lot of churches have not moved with the times.""Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life.""Do all you can to make your dreams come true.""Faith activates God - Fear activates the Enemy.""God didn't make a mistake when He made you. You need to see yourself as God sees you.""God wants to bless us where we are.""God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.""I don't go down the road of condemning.""I don't think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be.""I don't want to just preach to the church. I feel like I have a broader message.""I have always believed in God.""I made a decision when my father passed away that I was going to be who God made me to be and not try to preach like my father.""I think Bible principles are principles for life.""I think God's justice is making wrongs right.""I try to speak in everyday language. I feel like God has gifted me to take Bible principles and make them practical.""I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know.""I've never preached one sermon on money, on just finances. I want to stay away from it.""If Jesus were here today, he wouldn't be riding around on a donkey. He'd be taking a plane, he'd be using the media.""If we say it long enough eventually we're going to reap a harvest. We're going to get exactly what we're saying.""If you give, you will be blessed.""If you want to rear financial blessings, you have to sow financially.""It's God's will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It's God's will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt.""Most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change.""Only God can look at somebody's heart.""People respond when you tell them there is a great future in front of you, you can leave your past behind.""Prospering just doesn't have to do with money.""To me, we're marketing hope.""We were old sinners - but when we came to Christ we are not sinners anymore.""When you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure that you are always blessed in abundance.""You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church.""You can be happy where you are.""You can change your world by changing your words... Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.""You may make some mistakes-but that doesn't make you a sinner. You've got the very nature of God on the inside of you."
Born in Houston, Osteen married Victoria L. Iloff on April 4, 1987. They have two children, Jonathan and Alexandra. Joel, son of John and Dodie Osteen, is one of five children. His older siblings, Paul, Lisa, and Tamara, and his younger sister, April, are also involved in full-time ministry. Joel's half-brother Justin does missionary work out of New York. Joel's father, John Osteen, a former Southern Baptist pastor who became Charismatic in the late 1950s, founded Lakewood Church on Mother's Day, 1959. Osteen's father developed Lakewood into a body of approximately 6,000 members with an active television ministry, conferences, missionary support and food distribution.
After 17 years with his father, producing the church's television program, Joel succeeded his father on October 3, 1999, as pastor of Lakewood Church. Joel had only preached once in his life, the week before his father's death. Today, Lakewood Church services, led by Pastor Joel Osteen, are seen in over 100 nations around the world. Joel Osteen's first book, 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, was released in October 2004. In December 2006, he was named one of the year's "Ten Most Fascinating People" by Barbara Walters. Former presidential candidate John McCain has described Osteen as "inspirational".
Currently, Osteen and several Lakewood Church team members travel across the nation, presenting programs in large stadiums. The event, titled "A Night of Hope," includes worship music led by the church's music ministry, a testimony by Joel's mother Dodie and a sermon from Osteen. In 2007, the tour expanded to include stops in several other countries, including Canada, England, Northern Ireland and Israel. Osteen released his second book, titled Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day in October 2007, which also topped the New York Times Best Sellers List with a first printing of four million copies.Osteen told Larry King the new book will focus more on relationships and not getting stuck where we are in life. "Just my basic message of becoming all God's created you to be," he added.Osteen's popularity led to him being featured as one of ABC News' "10 Most Fascinating People of 2006", and was named "Most Influential Christian in America" in 2006 by The Church Report.
Osteen says that he chooses to focus on the goodness of God rather than sin. In answer to questions raised over why he does not include many Bible verses in his books, he says that he sees himself as more of a life coach. Osteen explains that he tries to teach Biblical principles in a simple way, emphasizing the power of love and a positive attitude.
Osteen has received much criticism from some in the Evangelical community. After a 2005 appearance on Larry King Live, he was accused of not clearly affirming that Jesus Christ is the only way a person can reach Heaven. He stated repeatedly that only God knows a person's heart, but that as a believer in the Christian faith he believes in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In late 2006, Osteen again appeared on Larry King Live and clarified his prior statement, saying he does in fact believe a personal relationship with Christ is the only way to Heaven.
On October 14, 2007, 60 Minutes ran a twelve minute segment on Osteen titled "Joel Osteen Answers his Critics" during which the Reformed theologian Michael Horton can be seen critiquing him. Horton tells CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts that Osteen's method of teaching is Christian heresy.
On the December 23, 2007, edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace brought up criticisms of Osteen's lack of Scripture reference in his sermons, as well as his hesitancy to discuss sin as an integral part of life. Osteen responded: "And I am ultimately trying to do that, but I'm trying to teach people how to live their everyday lives, and so I do focus on it, probably not as much as some people would like." His sermons and writings are sometimes reproached for their use of the concepts of prosperity theology, or the prosperity gospel, a belief that wealth and power are rewards for pious Christians.