Lakewood Church

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Lakewood Church
Lakewood worship.jpg
Worship in 2013
LocationFlag of Houston, Texas.png Houston, Texas
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Denomination Non-denominational, Charismatic
Weekly attendance52,000
FoundedMay 10, 1959
Founder(s) John Osteen
Senior pastor(s) Joel Osteen and Victoria Osteen
Pastor(s) Nick Nilson, John Gray, Dr. Paul Osteen, Craig Johnson

Lakewood Church is a non-denominational Christian megachurch located in Houston, Texas, US. It is one of the largest congregations in the United States, averaging about 52,000 attendees per week. [1] The 16,800-seat Lakewood Church building, home to four English-language services and two Spanish-language services per week, [2] is located at the former Compaq Center. [3] Joel Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church with his wife, Victoria, who serves as co-pastor. Lakewood Church is non-denominational (not affiliated), while the leadership may be considered part of the Word of Faith movement. [4]

Nondenominational Christianity consists of churches which typically distance themselves from the confessionalism or creedalism of other Christian communities by calling themselves nondenominational.

Christianity is an Abrahamic Universal religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Megachurch very big church within some Protestant Christianity; specifically, one having 2000 or more people in average weekend attendance

A megachurch is defined by the Hartford Institute as any Protestant Christian church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term, first documented in 1984, as a church with an unusually large membership, especially one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity and also offering a variety of educational and social activities.



Lakewood's original facility, a converted animal feed store, was used for the first years of the ministry. Lakewood Feedstore.jpg
Lakewood's original facility, a converted animal feed store, was used for the first years of the ministry.
Current building in Houston Lakewoodchurch.jpg
Current building in Houston
Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, September 21, 2018 Joel Osteen Preaching At Lakewood Church.jpg
Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, September 21, 2018

Lakewood Church, originally called "Lakewood Baptist Church", was founded by John Osteen and his second wife, Dolores (Dodie) on Mother's Day, May 10, 1959, inside an abandoned feed store in northeast Houston. [4] John was a Southern Baptist minister, but after experiencing baptism in the Holy Spirit, he founded Lakewood as a church for charismatic Baptists. The church soon dropped "Baptist" from its name and became non-denominational. By 1979, attendance was over five thousand, and the church was becoming prominent among Pentecostals and Charismatics. John and Dodie created and hosted Lakewood's weekly television program, which could be seen in 100 countries worldwide. Upon John Osteen's death on January 23, 1999, his youngest son, Joel Osteen, became the pastor.

John Hillery Osteen was an American pastor and founding pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, from its beginnings in 1959 until his death in 1999. His television program, John Osteen, ran for 16 years and was broadcast to millions in the U.S. and nearly 50 countries weekly.

In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison caused flooding in the Houston area. Lakewood church was opened as a shelter to approximately 5,000 displaced persons. [5] [6] [7]

Tropical Storm Allison Atlantic tropical storm in 2001

Tropical Storm Allison was a tropical storm that devastated southeast Texas in June of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. An arguable example of the "brown ocean effect", Allison lasted unusually long for a June storm, remaining tropical or subtropical for 15 days, most of which when the storm was over land dumping torrential rainfall. The storm developed from a tropical wave in the northern Gulf of Mexico on June 4, 2001, and struck the upper Texas coast shortly thereafter. It drifted northward through the state, turned back to the south, and re-entered the Gulf of Mexico. The storm continued to the east-northeast, made landfall on Louisiana, then moved across the southeast United States and Mid-Atlantic. Allison was the first storm since Tropical Storm Frances in 1998 to strike the northern Texas coastline.

Under Joel Osteen, Lakewood's congregation increased almost fivefold. [8] Attendance increased to 30,000 weekly, prompting a move from its location at 7317 East Houston Road [9] [10] to a larger facility. [3] In late 2003, the church signed a long-term lease with the city of Houston to acquire the Compaq Center, a 29-year-old former sports arena. [11]

Lakewood Church Central Campus former sports arena and current megachurch in Houston, Texas

The Lakewood Church - Central Campus is a megachurch in Houston, Texas. It is located about five miles southwest of Downtown Houston, next to the Greenway Plaza.

Lakewood Church relocated to the Compaq Center on July 16, 2005. It is a 16,800-seat facility in southwest downtown Houston along U.S. Highway 59, that has twice the capacity of its former sanctuary. [3] [12] The church was required to pay $11.8 million in rent in advance for the first 30 years of the lease. [11] Lakewood renovated the new campus at an estimated cost of $100 million. [8]

On March 31, 2010, the Houston City Council voted 13–2 to sell the property to Lakewood for $7.5 million. [13]


Lakewood Church believes that the entire Bible is inspired by God, and the church bases its teachings on this belief. The church also holds in account the belief in the Trinity, as well as the recognition of the death of Christ on the cross and resurrection.

From the commands found in the Bible, the church practices the following:

Lakewood Church is known for its Word of Faith teaching. [4] It is also known, before every sermon, for a confession (originally led by John and continued by Joel) which the congregation repeats in unison. [15]

Church organization

Lakewood offers different types of ministries, fellowships, and services depending on the age, marital status, and need of its members.


During Weekend services, Joel Osteen, Victoria Osteen, John Gray or Danilo Montero preach. On Sunday nights, Nick Nilson or John Gray preach. On Wednesday nights, the Associate Pastors John Gray, Paul Osteen, Lisa Osteen Comes, or guest speakers preach.


Various classes are offered through the Compass Classes ministry, meeting before and after weekend services. [16]


The church's weekly services are broadcast on Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar Television Network, as well as local channels in most major U.S. markets. Lakewood also appears on secular networks, such as Fox Network, Freeform, and USA Network. In 2007, Lakewood reported spending nearly $30 million every year on its television ministry. [17] Osteen's sermons are also televised in more than 100 countries, with an estimated 7 million viewers each week. [18] Lakewood also hosts a Night of Hope every month. This is when the church hosts a Christian service event in one of the arenas or stadiums all across America.

Hispanic ministry

In 2002, Lakewood began a Hispanic ministry, Iglesia Lakewood, founded by Hispanic Pastor Marcos Witt and his wife, Miriam Witt. In September 2012, Danilo and Gloriana Montero assumed the role of associate pastors for the Hispanic ministry. Lakewood has two services each week in Spanish and translates all English services into Spanish. The weekly attendance at the Spanish services is approximately 6,000 people. [19] [20]


Prosperity gospel

Osteen's sermons and writings are sometimes noted for promoting prosperity theology, or the prosperity gospel, a belief that material gain is a reward for pious Christians. [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] However, when asked if he is a prosperity teacher, Osteen responded that if prosperity means God wants people to be blessed and healthy and have good relationships, then he considers himself a prosperity teacher, but if it is about money, he does not. He has specifically stated that he never preaches about money because of the reputation of televangelists. [28] In an interview with The Christian Post on April 21, 2013, Osteen expressed his sentiments on being perceived as being part of the prosperity gospel. "I get grouped into the prosperity gospel and I never think it's fair, but it's just what it is. I think prosperity, and I've said it 1,000 times, it's being healthy, it's having great children, it's having peace of mind. Money is part of it; and yes, I believe God wants us to excel ... to be blessed so we can be a bigger blessing to others. I feel very rewarded. I wrote a book and sold millions of copies; and Victoria and I were able to help more people than we ever dreamed of. But when I hear the term prosperity gospel, I think people are sometimes saying, 'Well, he's just asking for money'." [29] On October 14, 2007, 60 Minutes ran a twelve-minute segment on Osteen, titled "Joel Osteen Answers his Critics", during which Reformed theologian Michael Horton told CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts that Osteen's message is heresy. Horton stated that the problem with Osteen's message is that it makes religion about us instead of about God. [30]

Hurricane Harvey response

During the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Osteen received significant criticism in response to not making Lakewood Church, a 606,000 sq. ft., 16,000 seat, former basketball arena, available as an emergency shelter for those displaced by the storm. [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] On August 27th, posts from the church and a Lakewood Church associate pastor's social media accounts stated that the church was "inaccessible due to severe flooding," and associate pastor John Gray posting further, "If WE could get there WE WOULD OPEN THE DOORS." [36] [37] In a subsequent interview, Osteen countered the claim that flood waters closed the church, saying "the church has been open from the beginning," and, "We’ve always been open … How this notion got started, that we’re not a shelter and we’re not taking people in is a false narrative.” [35] [38] [35] [39] [40] On the evening of August 28th, it was announced by Lakewood that it would open at noon the next day as an available shelter, opening to storm victims and emergency personnel on August 29. [35]

On August 15th, the City of Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed a "Lakewood Church Day" in honor of Lakewood's assistance in rebuild efforts across the Houston area. [41] [42] It stated Lakewood has provided "assistance to more than 1,150 Houston-area families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by floodwaters" and bought "1.1 million dollars in building materials, furniture, appliances, and paid labor, as well as through the contribution of more than 2,500 volunteers". [43]

See also

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  2. "Services". Lakewood Church.
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  4. 1 2 3 Conser Jr, Walter H.; Rodger M. Payne, eds. (2008). Southern Crossroads:Perspectives on Religion and Culture. The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 67–68. ISBN   978-0-8131-2494-0.
  5. "Joel Osteen's Houston megachurch opens doors as shelter". Denver Post. Associated Press. August 29, 2017. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  6. "Faithful return to Houston church to worship and to help storm's refugees". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Associated Press. June 18, 2001. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  7. Kuzydym, Stephanie; Phillips, Kristine (August 30, 2017). "Joel Osteen calls claim he shut church doors on Harvey victims 'a false narrative'". Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  8. 1 2 "Nation's largest church opens in stadium". MSNBC. Retrieved February 25, 2007.
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  10. "Contact Us." Lakewood Church. June 23, 2003.
  11. 1 2 Pristin, Terry (March 10, 2004). "A Sports Arena Gets Religion". New York Times. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2007.
  12. Lonsway, Brian. “Spiritual Summit.” The Houston Journal of Architecture. 74 (2008): 14–19.
  13. Bradley Olson and Moises Mendoza. "City Council OKs sale of ex-Compaq to Lakewood." Houston Chronicle. March 31, 2010.
  14. "What We Believe" . Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  16. Compass Bible Studies Archived June 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  17. "Interview: Joel Osteen on the Future of America's Churches and Him Pastoring One". The Christian Post. Retrieved February 25, 2007.
  18. "No Politics From This Pulpit". Newsweek. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
  19. "Horario de servicios". Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  20. "Marcos Witt". Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  21. Blumenthal, Ralph (March 30, 2006). "Joel Osteen's Credo: Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate Prosperity". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  22. "Transcript: Pastor Joel Osteen on 'FNS'". FOX News. December 23, 2007. Retrieved May 13, 2011. Now, as with most successful people, you have critics who say that what you offer is gospel 'lite,' the prosperity gospel.
  23. Stephen Brooks (2013). American Exceptionalism in the Age of Obama. p. 51. ... Joel Osteen and T. D. Jakes, the most prominent contemporary messengers of the prosperity gospel ...
  24. "Does God Want You to Be Rich?". Time . September 10, 2006. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 'Does God want us to be rich?' [Osteen] asks. 'When I hear that word rich, I think people say, 'Well, he's preaching that everybody's going to be a millionaire.' I don't think that's it.' Rather, [Osteen] explains, 'I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. It's all relative, isn't it?' ...
  25. Cathleen Falsani. "The Prosperity Gospel". Washington Post . Retrieved March 19, 2015. 'God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us,' Osteen wrote in a 2005 letter ....
  26. "Meet the Prosperity Preacher". Business Week . May 23, 2005. Retrieved March 19, 2015. Osteen is also a leading proponent of what is sometimes called the 'prosperity gospel', which teaches that God wants people to prosper in all areas of their lives – including material success.
  27. Pastor Rick Henderson, The False Promise of the Prosperity Gospel: Why I Called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, The Huffington Post, 2013.08.21
  28. "Joel Osteen: The Man Behind America's Largest Church". Retrieved November 16, 2013.
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  33. Sinclair, Harriet (August 8, 2017). "Is Joel Osteen's megachurch too flooded to help hurricane Harvey victims?". Newsweek . Retrieved September 8, 2017.
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  35. 1 2 3 4 Kuzydym, Stephanie; Phillips, Christine (August 30, 2017). "Joel Osteen pushes back against accusations he closed his megachurch to Harvey victims". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
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  37. "Joel Osteen's Houston megachurch opens doors as shelter after pastor slammed by critics". Redlands Daily Facts. August 29, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
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  39., Oliver McAteer for (August 29, 2017). "Pastor opens his megachurch for shelter after video showing it empty". Metro. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  40. Prince, S.J. (August 29, 2017). "PHOTO: Joel Osteen's Wikipedia Trolled Over Church's Response to Hurricane Harvey". Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  41. "Joel Osteen honored by city of Houston for post-Harvey help". ABC13 Houston. August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  42. Martin, Florian (August 14, 2018). "Lakewood Church Receives Mayor's Proclamation for Harvey Support – After Initial Criticism | Houston Public Media". Houston Public Media. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  43. FOX. "Lakewood Church pastors recognized for work during Hurricane Harvey". KSAZ. Retrieved August 15, 2018.

Coordinates: 29°43′48″N95°26′4″W / 29.73000°N 95.43444°W / 29.73000; -95.43444