Known for his gleaming smile and positive preaching, televangelist, and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen is a worldwide sensation. Since becoming the head of Houston’s Lakewood Church, Osteen has grown the church’s membership to more than 40,000.
But it is not his preaching alone that is responsible for his fame. Joel Osteen is also a best-selling author and popular motivational speaker. His most recent speaking tour, dubbed “A Night of Hope,” even sold out Yankee Stadium.
Here we have compiled 10 facts you might not know about the illustrious pastor:
1. He lives in a $10.5 million home, which boasts six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators, five fireplaces, a guest house, and pool house, and he also owns his former home, valued at $2.9 million, according to CultureMap Houston. Some critics of Osteen take issue with this fact.
2. His estimated net worth is over $40 million. “Joel Osteen, whose book sales and related stuff generates a reported $55 million, claims an individual should not feel guilt for possessing lots of material wealth. Instead, one needs to thank and praise God for the acquired wealth,” Celebrity Net Worth reported.
3. He no longer takes his $200,000 salary from the Lakewood church.
4. Prior to becoming a pastor, Osteen had a fear of public speaking, Forbes magazine reported.
5. His teachings about prosperity have been publically called into question. Writing for The Huffington Post, pastor Rick Henderson said he has preached against Osteen’s teachings, as well as those of Joyce Meyer, at his church.
“They both teach a twisted form of Christianity that teaches obedience, giving, and faith as a way to get things from God,” he wrote. “They are both products of what is known as the Prosperity Gospel and The Word of Faith Movement, or the Seed Faith Movement.”
6. The megachurch Osteen pastors, Lakewood, was started in 1959 by his father, John Osteen, in a small feed store, The Guardian reported. For 17 years, Osteen ran his father’s television ministry behind the scenes, never intending to become a preacher himself. He has said he always planned to remain behind the camera and never in front of it. A college dropout, Osteen resisted his father’s frequent invitations to follow in his footsteps as a pastor for years, according to The Guardian.
7. Once Joel Osteen became the pastor, Lakewood quickly quadrupled its membership, reported the Guardian.
8. His first book, released in 2004, “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential,” has since sold more than 10 million copies, according to the Star-Telegram.
9. Osteen met his wife, Victoria, at a jewelry store. Their first date was at the church he now pastors with her, Beliefnet reported.
10. Osteen’s services include no crosses or religious symbols at all, which is one aspect of his ministry that sparks frequent intense debate among other Christians.
“I think it's a cotton candy gospel,” the Rev. Michael Horton, professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, told CBS News. “His core message is God is nice, you're nice, be nice. It's sort of a, if it were a form of music, I think it would be easy listening. He uses the Bible like a fortune cookie. ‘This is what's gonna happen for you. There's gonna be a windfall in your life tomorrow.' The Bible's not meant to be read that way.”