Why I Changed My Mind About Joel Osteen

PATREON SUPPORTERS Log-in here to remove ads Login with Patreon

A couple years ago, I was working in Houston and I asked if any of my Facebook friends in Houston wanted to meet up. Mike Carter messaged me and asked if I wanted to go to Lakewood Church with him. I had never heard of it, so he told me it was Joel Osteen’s church.

To be honest, I was like most of my Facebook friends who think the worst of him, without really knowing anything about him. I was sure that I would not agree with his theology (without knowing anything about that either).

Also, Houston is a VERY large city. So, I wasn’t sure how far I would have drive to get there. And I had a very tight work schedule.

However, I figured that I had posted something on Facebook asking to meet my friends. And this is what my friend, Mike, offered. So I might as well go and just experience it for myself. As “luck” would have it, I was literally working across the street from Lakewood Church, so I had NO excuses!

I want to know why 45,000 people attend this church every week

What makes Joel Osteen’s church so different?

I’ve long ago learned that the best experiences in life are those where you are completely open-minded to the experience and don’t pre-judge. So I shifted my thinking to: “I want to know why 45,000 people attend this church every week. What makes this church so different?” I knew that just teaching a “feel good” message would not be enough to keep that many people coming back, week after week.

Lakewood Church meets in this HUGE sports arena (I don’t remember which one). But Mike told me exactly where to meet him. When I got there, he and his beautiful wife, Beverly, took me to the visitor’s section, which is the front and center section they have reserved for first time visitors. Immediately, I felt important, as a visitor.

Before the service began, everyone around me introduced themselves (the members could sit with their visiting guests). And I was made to feel very welcomed from my first moment there.

When the praise and worship began, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I have NEVER experienced anything like that! Yes, it was a fairly typical contemporary praise and worship band, only better.

But have you ever praised the Lord with THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of other people, live? That alone was enough to make the whole thing worth it!

It was so loud, with so many people singing and worshiping, that I couldn’t hear myself sing. But it made me sing all the louder! And when the band really got going, it rocked that whole arena to the point where we could physically feel it. You know, like going to good rock concert!

The Testimonies

I don’t remember the exact details of the service. But I’ve been to several others since then. What I do remember is, they will often bring someone on stage to give a short testimony of how God, through Joel Osteen’s church, has recently changed their life, usually dramatically.

It was not your typical “I prayed a magical prayer” testimony. It was a story of a homeless man who now had a job and a place to live, thanks to the church. And how God was working in his heart to change him from the inside out.

Or the four couples who went to a marriage conference because they were separated or going through a divorce. And how God restored their marriages through the help they received at the church.

Special Needs

Or the way the church helps, both practically and spiritually, families who have special needs kids, like mine. I never had that in any church I’ve ever attended. It was always a hardship at church.

Not only does Joel’s mother have a special prayer service once a month for anyone with special needs, and not only do all the Sunday School classes have help for anyone with special needs, but they also provide respite care for those families as well. I cried when I heard that.

Or the program Joel Osteen’s church has so that when the state steps in to take children away from their parents in what they deem to be a bad situation. Lakewood has an alternative program where they actually work together with the families, helping them learn better parenting skills, so they can keep their children.

And hundreds more like that. You know, REAL life-changing stuff that I’ve never witnessed in a church before. I heard some stories in real life, and some from the pulpit.

Jesus central to the preaching and teaching

I don’t remember any particular sermon. Although I heard both Joel Osteen and John Gray preach. John Gray is much more meatier, as far as teaching Scripture goes. And Joel Osteen was much more encouraging. There was no judgment there. They met people right where they were, BUT at the same time, encouraged them to grow and mature as well.

Jesus was central to the preaching and teaching, and there was an “altar call,” of sorts, for people to give their lives to Jesus at every service. And there were many who responded at each one. And they were helped to moved forward from there.

In the sermons I have heard so far, I found NOTHING wrong theologically, and I’m pretty good at finding theological errors! Now, I am sure if I attended more services, I would find something wrong. But the fact that there was nothing glaringly wrong was encouraging to me!

Joel didn’t focus on the boogeyman, Satan. He didn’t scare people with hell-fire and damnation. And he didn’t give any false prophesies about Jesus coming any time soon. He didn’t twist any Scriptures out of context. Instead, he just brought hope and help to thousands of hurting people.

Touring the arena

I found out that they had many Sunday School classes and Bible studies that were designed for more in-depth Bible study and learning, as well as John Gray’s mid-week service.

After the service, Mike and Beverly gave me a tour of the HUGE arena/church and Beverly must have introduced me to a thousand people! It seemed like she knew everyone there!

What struck me most about meeting all these people was, when they found out I was visiting, without prompting, nearly everyone wanted to tell me two things, in addition to welcoming me: “Let me tell you what Jesus has done for me, and let me tell you how this church has changed my life.” I have to say that I have never seen anything like that in all the oodles of churches I have either visited or attended in all my life.

The personal touch

Oh, yes, I almost forgot! I did get to meet Joel Osteen and shake his hand at the end of the service. He does that at every service, which is pretty incredible, considering how many people are there each week!

And so what I experienced that first day at Lakewood, and several times afterward, was not only the love of God, which permeated that place and those people. It was also thousands of lives who were truly changed by that love of God, and by all the people at Lakewood, including Joel Osteen.

So when ignorant, but well-meaning, friends want to slander Joel Osteen, usually because they don’t know anything about him in real life, I stand up for a man who has given his life to help thousands and thousands of people, both in real life and on TV. And for a man who relentlessly teaches about the love of God.

In the end, LOVE wins. And Joel Osteen “gets” that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. That report about Joel Osteen is so encouraging and comforting. People always think they are the exberts on things they don’t have a clue about. I’ve stopped listening to all these negative comments about people. Some may be true but some are gravely false. It only causes more division in God’s Kingdom here in the earth. Bravo to Lakewood Church and Pastor Osteen Ministry for doing what Jesus would do, help heal and love hurting people.

  2. I am from Pensacola, FL. I watch Joel constantly. God has put it in my heart to go to Lakewood to hear his message. I’m super excited to find out what it is! I will be there 10-29 to find out what God has for me through Joel! Joel Osteen has truly changed my life & attitude!

  3. Gossip gossip gossip. All I see here is what people are saying about him without facts. Sometimes promoted by jealousy because he is wealthy. If someone is in error God will deal with it not a lynching mob.

    As for the ministries claiming this and that about certain preachers in the disguise of apologetics – they should concentrate on sharing the Gospel.

  4. I won’t stop you from attending his church. I’ll be honest with you. You’ll see him of not using Bible in his teaching. You’ll hear him of not preaching about hell and sin. he’s not a real pastor. I’m just being honest with you

  5. I have a problem with anyone walking closely to the Lord, doing His work and gleaning multi-millions of dollars. It is anti-gospel and smacks of the love of money. The closer the walk, the more we are convicted of our worldliness and if a pastor, a pastor, is not seeing this glaring contradiction in their own lives while many children are dying daily in Africa from bad water when they can dig many wells to help the masses, and instead keeps/hoards money…I cannot listen to the sermons. Unclean.

    1. So you have a problem with God blessing someone who is faithful to the field of favour God has placed him in. Jealousy hah oh well have a gossip. Slander a man’s rep. Oh well.

  6. According to the internet, every preacher is a false teacher in the eyes someone, and critics are not without fault either and others might call them a false teacher too if they were the ones preaching their correct version. For that reasons, we should not be too quick to judge.
    We need to remember that no Christian has a perfect understanding of scripture or knows God perfectly and struggles with a sin nature. Everyone also comes from a different background, has a different life experience and thinks differently and that can also effect how we understand scripture and how we apply it to our lives. No two preachers are going to present the Gospel in exact same way that will please everyone. Sometimes we need to look inside and pray if we are the ones who are wrong about something or someone before we call out false teachers over trivial matters.

    We also need to take into account that every preacher has a different calling and a different target audience. Joel has said many times that he is called to be an encourager because some people need that. Others might need a meaty sermon while others need a kick up the backside. We should not rely on one single pastor to get fed, but rather we should listen to variety of pastors to get what we need for the season we are in. Even prosperity doctrine has its place if applied correctly.

    Nor do I understand the critics of Joel. Sure he doesn’t speak condemnation like people would like him too, but since when does condemnation point people in the right direction? But rather he speaks about the solution and how to do live a righteous life in a practical way. He talks a lot about character and staying away from toxic behaviors [ sin] and trusting God though thick and thin. Its easy for a legalist to stay, “Just repent stop sinning” but they don’t teach people how to do that in a practical way. Critics say he teaches prosperity, but do they honestly think God is harsh who wants them to struggle and miserable all the time? In my experience God has helped me though many problems and bought me out of many and healed me of depression.

  7. I am so glad that you found the good amidts the evil! God tells us not to judge the faults of our brethrem. He calls us hipocrits when we do look at the sins in others. God warns us because we too are sinners, and doing so would make us to be insencere! However, you have missed to see the most important point about the critics voices. The bible warns about woolfs among us! Paul warns of those that deny the power of Christ and the true gospel. Dear you have been deceived by the lier ! I am not talking about Joel, I am talking about the devil, satan, the serpent that first appeared in the garden to tell Eve; ” so God has said…..”. Let me explain; the falling away and the deception of the end times will be so hidden that if possible even the elect would be deceived. What God is warning us about is about what Joel is doing. He has removed Jesus as the only way and positionned him as “a way”, that is why when you stepped into the church you witnessed Jesus being preached and calls to the altar. Saddly the deception is so slick that those that attend get overwhelmed by what they see and experience. I was one of those in a local mega church, a church were devil was casted out, people delivered from sickness, tormenting spirits, addictions and more! We have to remember that when confronted by God at the final day many will come and say that they casted out demonds and preached in His name and God will tell them, “depart from me, you workers of evil”. Who can possibly be these people?, how can someone preach and cast out demons in Jesus name and still be casted out? There is only one answer to this puzzling account! Jesus is the way the, the truth and the life, any other way to heaven is a deception from the pits of hell! My friend, Joel denied Jesus when he went on national tv, on three of the most seen programs, with the most popular top three hosts and repeated the same lie. God gave Joel 3 chances to exhault the name of Jesus to the largest unbelieving audience in America and the world and as Peter he denied Jesus 3 times! Please dona follow up to this comment and try to explain your view once again, this time with the fore-knowledge that Uoel is a false teacher, not because he preaches about Jesus but because he denied Christ as the only way to heaven! Inpray that the Spirit of God shows you the truth!

    1. What are you talking about lady?!!!!
      Please, if you don’t have anything nice to say it would be wise not to say anything at all . I pray that you find the love, hope, and inspiration wherever that may be , I have found mine at Lakewood and it has changed my life forever . God bless you❤️?

      1. I saw Joel deny Christ being the only way also. Hope he repented but from then on, he needed to get off the pulpit.Unfit.

    1. I agree 100% with you Jennifer he is a motivational speaker and mixes Jesus words in it the Bible warns us of these persons..Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.This is what people lack to realize that searching for someone or something to hold on to they accept anything that seems real to them..keep you head in God’s word,,

    2. What are you talking about lady?!!!!
      Please, if you don’t have anything nice to say it would be wise not to say anything at all . I pray that you find the love, hope, and inspiration wherever that may be , I have found mine at Lakewood and it has changed my life forever . God bless you❤️?

      1. Thank you Andrea for sharing this. I am in a discussion right now with a bunch of Joel haters. I started out skeptical and after listening to over 60 sermons in reading books I have not found any of the claims against him to be true. He preaches Jesus is the way. He preaches believing in a big God that wants to bless his children, not that people should just make a bunch of money. I’m so glad I listened with an open mind because that is how people are saved not through condemnation and fear of going to hell.

    1. I work in television and film, the power of editing to make it sound like people said something they didn’t and being taken out of context and manipulated is very very easy.

    2. That interview with Oprah actually helps Joel’s case as he clearly stated Jesus is the only path to God. He said Jesus reveals himself differently to people so I’m confused why you think that interview poses issues when it does the opposite for his image.

  8. Joel has touched my life in so many ways!!! After the death of my daughter from the hands of her ex-boyfriend, I fell into a deep depression for years. I have been a powerful force in public schools as a Principal who work in behavioral schools, but was able to turn them around helping thousands of student to become successful in life!!! Then in 2009, my oldest daughter was missing after taking my grandson to visit his father… her ex-boyfriend. He murder my child, and throw her body in a lake with chains and bricks to keep her below the water. For days, he indicated that she left her son with him, and had ran off with another man!!! Her body was discovered on the third day after she went missing by two fishermen on the lake. It took 8 years to complete the trial, but he was founded guilt of the killing of my daughter. In between that years I developed PTSD, and major depression. I was removed for my job of 21 years, which cause more depression. One day, I watch Joel on a TV show talking about his new book. I heard him say ” You need to look in the mirror and tell yourself , I am free!!!” He went on to tell how powerful God is, and how the devil is not!!! I started looking in the mirror telling myself that I am free of sickness, free of depression, free of hate toward the man who took my baby life, and free of the devil’s control!!! I now watch and read Joel’s daily messages and shows!!! I hope to meet him one day, just to say THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT!

    1. Are you referring to his book: The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today?

    2. Yes am with you George, well, Joel Osteen changed my life in so many ways, My life now is totally changed because of Joel Osteen, when I miss his daily word program it’s like I miss God, my father,

      Thank you, Joel, for changing my life for the better, from hopeless to Hope. God bless you Joel.

  9. Wow! Love is in abundance over there, even towards strangers! If only I wasn’t thousands of miles away in Nairobi, Kenya – I would also have made plans to visit Lakewood. Joel Osteen, you are God’s gift to mankind. I watch you on television regularly and get encouraged. I am a widow and things got somewhat tough initially, but God is great and I am who HE says I am! Today I am stronger and filled with the joy of the Lord. Through your Ministry I found peace! What Joel’s mother is doing is awesome. I would like to emulate her when I retire in a year’s time, that is my prayer. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry and mission on earth as you fulfill your purpose in His service – for His own glory – and as you give hope to the hopeless, and lots of love to humanity. GLORY BE TO GOD!!

  10. When Jesus was on earth, he preached on love which is the greatest commandment and to love on another. This is the gospel to be focused on. Nothing wrong with Joel Osteen preaching on love and helping the people to restore to normal functioning in society. If he has the gift of doing so, God blesses him richly. In this world you cannot please man because their mind is so canal that it affects them with sin, negative thoughts and evil. You see now, many are blind by the truth that which is love, light and life to accept. Grey scales cover the eyes of truth and allow darkness to cloud the mind by becoming judgmental. We know hell exist, but our focus should not dwell there. My point to Joel is that he is not focusing on hell the path to destruction but to the path of destiny through grace by faith we will receive our inheritance with him. Joel is an exception, he found rest in Jesus since he is at peace. In other words, who wants to hear about hell if you not doing anything wrong and even you do anything wrong the blood of Jesus is still powerful to forgive. Joel is on target that is why the enemies is after him with bad intention just like when Christ was on earth the devil use the people to disgrace his throne. Stay alert and become good watchmen and even prayer warriors to resist these attacks that is coming against the church in the latter. Don’t let the enemy break your marriage with the church it is God’ s ministry to you all that is under the new covenant. Stay focus for critics because me and you are heading into our destiny no matter who the devil use to brings us down.

  11. Thank you for this encouraging comment about Ptr.Joel Osteen but who are we to judge his ministry. We don’t even know him personally and visited his church.

  12. I do not understand Joel Osteen decision under Huston Crisis. But I see more of Christ in Mattress Mack and all Huston people and around world. Money vs Sacrifice?

    1. Then you need to read up. The city had opened up shelter in the lead up to the Hurricane which housed many other people and had showers and bathrooms and so Lakewood chose to instead focus on food as they had no showers on site, but they were prepared if the many other shelters became full. However at the same time Lakewood church itself was flooded which as a very big safety issue. As soon as the water had receded and they were able, they were able to open their doors.

      1. Thank you Josh for your facts and spot-on comments. It’s refreshing because the false claims against Joel are just ignorance of people with their own selfish reasons.

  13. The Word of God says people are saved by the love of God. God sent his own son Jesus so that we might believe in God and have eternal life. Hell needs to be taught, but to the mature not the baby Christian. See scriptures below.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not of works, so that no one can boast.

    Titus 3:5-7 he saved us, not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.

    Romans 4:1-5 What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh, has discovered regarding this matter? 2 For if Abraham was declared righteous by the works of the law, he has something to boast about (but not before God). 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.

    Ladies, it also says, “do my prophets no harm.” Your slander will be judged by God himself. Also, if Pastor Olsteen has committed sin, and has not repented, God will judge him. God also says, judge not or you will be judged. You are on very shaky ground. God forgive you.

  14. First of all I want to say I agree with William Virella.
    Joel is not preaching “Soul-Saving messages”, and just as you said he doesn’t preach about “hell fire” messages, which is what “itching ears” want. … It does not matter how many people he “helps” if HE DOES NOT REACH OUT TO THEIR SOUL WITH SALVATION!!!! “Works” does not get you to heaven. (Ephesians 2:9 (KJV) Not of works, lest any man should boast.)

    1. spot on!!!!! As long as hell fire is real, people need to be warned about it. Any preacher who decides to leave that out of his teachings is a false prophet

      1. you actually think that because God sits in heaven
        you don’t have to fear hell
        are you leaving for God or do you think
        he’s going to save you just because he’s in heaven
        Each of us will give an account of our lives to God,
        and He is fully aware of everything we think,
        desire, speak,
        and do.
        >>> joel osten
        he is a Entertainer
        he’s more concerned about making money
        than getting people into heaven
        false prophet

    2. Have you actually watched an entire Lakewood Church Service? Please don’t just make judgements based on one part of the entire church service, what you don’t seem to realize is that the call to holiness and obedience to Christ is in the early parts of the service before the main message.

      It goes like this… Worship->sometimes testimonies->worship->admonish to holiness->worship->message (which is to build up after the admonition earlier in the service)…

      Please take some time to actually dig deeper, you might find the very things you claim are missing.

  15. If you read your Bible and then hear his preaching then you could say i’ts ( ◄ 2 Timothy 4:3 )
    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    1. That’s true. I agree. Joel preaches the health and wealth prosperity gospel which is against the Word of God

      1. i believe in health and prosperity. However, those are not the reasons for coming to God. I believe in heaven and hell. The ENTIRE bible should be preached not just bits and pieces so soothe the ears of people

  16. MY COMMENT : I couldn’t understand the slander or how Joel could be the opposite of his DAD! HE’S NOT!! Just a Different anointing! These slanders is touching an Anointing! Not kool!!