Raised in Houston, Texas, with a loving family of seven and world-renowned parents in full-time ministry, Joel Osteen never imagined that he would follow so closely in his father’s footsteps. As a young man, his training and interests were behind the scenes in television production though he was close to his father in ministry.
His father always encouraged him to preach, but Joel would politely decline time and time again until one day in October 1999 when his father was admitted to the hospital with kidney complications. Joel finally agreed to preach the next Sunday, and his father passed the following week. Joel’s first sermon was the last his father ever heard. Joel and his wife, Victoria, were suddenly thrust into full-time leadership of Lakewood Church.
Within a year, the weekly service attendance grew from an average of 5,000 to more than 28,000, and additional services were added to accommodate the unprecedented growth. By 2001, according to Forbes magazine, Lakewood had grown to be the largest non-denominational church in America.
In 2003, Lakewood Church acquired the Compaq Center, former home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The next 18 months were spent renovating the arena, and on July 15th, 2005, held the first of seven weekly worship services in the new 16,000-seat auditorium. That first week, Lakewood added over 10,000 new members, and within a year became one of the most popular out-of-town visitor destinations in Houston. Over the next few years, Lakewood continued its growth and currently draws more than 45,000 weekly attendees.
Today the ministry is radically impacting lives all over the world through live, televised, and online church services. Each week, Joel’s sermons are broadcast by television into every U.S. television market and to over 100 nations around the world. In addition, Joel’s weekly sermons are streamed live over the internet allowing his inspirational messages to reach into virtually every nation.
According to several sources, he has become the most watched inspirational figure in America, and in 2014, Sirius XM launched Joel Osteen Radio, (#128) a channel dedicated to the inspirational messages of Joel and Victoria. Additionally, over the past eight years, more than two million people have attended Joel and Victoria’s Night of Hope events across the U.S. and around the world.
Joel’s far-reaching impact can be found in the simplicity of his core message: Our God is a good God Who has good plans for those who choose to follow Jesus and are faithful and obedient to God’s Word.