Joel Scott Osteen (b. 1963) is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, and author of the New York Times bestselling book Your Best Life Now. He is a proponent of the word of faith movement and prosperity gospel.
Osteen took over the ministry of North America's largest and fastest-growing church in 1999 upon the death of his father, founder John Osteen. He assumed leadership of the church and the role of pastor-teacher with limited biblical training and no experience as a pastor, having dropped out of Oral Roberts University after just one semester to manage Lakewood's television production department.
Osteen was born in Houston as the oldest son of John Osteen, a former Southern Baptist pastor who became a charismatic in the late 1950s and founded Lakewood Church. After graduating from high school, Joel Osteen attended Oral Roberts University. However, after his first semester he moved back to Houston where he became director of television production for Lakewood Church in 1982-1999.
Osteen's father developed Lakewood into a body of approximately 6,000 members with an active television ministry, crusades, conferences, missionary support and food distribution. He died of a heart attack in 1999. Having produced his father's television program for years, Joel Osteen succeeded him on October 3, 1999. Joel Osteen never received any formal religious training. Adopting the slogan "Discover the Champion in You," Lakewood was holding six weekly services in a 7,800 seat sanctuary by fall 2004. Osteen is associated with the Word of faith movement in charismaticprotestantism.
Osteen lives in the Houston area with his wife Victoria and two children, Jonathan and Alexandra. Critics have decried his lifestyle as "lavish" pointing to the fact that he lives in a house valued at over $1 million. Supporters, however, say that his income is largely the result of his book sales and state that he declined to take his 2005 annual salary of $174,000 as pastor of the church, in order to use the money for other ministries. They also point to the church's charity work, particularly during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison. According to Lakewood, the church donated over 1 million dollars to flood victims in one year alone. [citations needed]
You can cancel out God's best plan by speaking negative words.
Many of you today know this, you believe it down here in your heart. But the reason that you're not experiencing as much as you should is because your not declaring it. You've got to give life to your faith by speaking it out. Your words have creative power. When you go around saying, 'I have favor, people want to be good to me and supernatural doors are opening.' When you make those declarations of faith, you are charging the atmosphere. And your own words can help to bring it to pass. That is why we should get into the habit of every day consistently speaking God's favor over our lives.
I believe one of the main ways that we grow in favor is by declaring. It's not enough to just read it. It's not enough to just believe it. You've got to speak it out. Your words have creative power. One of the primary ways we release our faith is through our words. There is a divine connection between you declaring God's favor and seeing God's favor manifested in your life. And some of you are doing your best to please the Lord. You are living a holy consecrated life, but you're not really experiencing God's supernatural favor. And it's simply because you're not declaring it. You've got to give life to your faith by speaking it out.
You know, it's wonderful to know that faith is a power and a force. And I'm starting a series of messages today to help you understand faith in God. Bible faith. Because you see, when you realize that God works by faith, then you'll know how important it is. The Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Impossible. So, if it's impossible for us to please God without faith, we ought to understand what faith is.
I don't in the least bit consider myself a prosperity-type preacher. I don't think I've ever preached a message on finances.
Hope for Today Bible, NLT. Featuring notes and encouragement from Joel and Victoria Osteen. Free Press, 2009.
Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day. Free Press, 2007.
Making Wise Choices: Your Decisions Determine Your Destiny. Joel Osteen Ministries, 2005.
Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. Warner Faith, 2004.