4 Things to Like about Joel Osteen

While I think it is fine to correct problematic theology (2 Timothy 3:16), it should be done with kindness and respect. But, there seems to be a growing number of Joel Osteen “haters” out there. So, I thought I would point out a few things I really like about the guy and his ministry at Lakewood Church.

1. Joel Osteen leads his congregation during the service

Of the few church services from Lakewood Church that I’ve scanned through, I’ve noticed that Joel regularly comes out onto the stage after a couple minutes of music to intentionally lead his church.

Joel commends his congregation for making their worship to God a priority: “There’s a lot of things you could be doin’ [insert Texan accent here], but you said, ‘I’m going to start a new week off right. I’m goin’ go to the house of the Lord.’”[1]

He looks out into the crowd and implores them to turn their cares and concerns over to God: “If there’s anything tryin’ to weigh you down today, this is a perfect time to say, ‘God, I’m turnin’ it over to you right now.’ The Scripture says to cast your burdens on the Lord.”

He lifts his hands and persuades the congregation: “We’re going to lift up God today… join in with us.”

2. Joel gives prominent space to women

After Joel speaks for a couple of minutes, his wife, Victoria, takes over. And when the two of them are done, she prays, not him.

Forty minutes into the service, Victoria is out on stage again. This time she’s by herself, teaching on hope for about fifteen minutes. From what I’ve seen, if Joel and Victoria aren’t present for a service, another woman is given a prominent moment of teaching in the service.[2]

Churches should make space for women (in general, not just pastor’s wives) to use the gifts that the Spirit has given them. And this includes preaching and teaching.[3]

3. Joel helps people realize that God is daily at work in their lives.

About 26 minutes into the service, Joel walks out onto the stage again, lifts his hands, and prays, “We wouldn’t be standing here, if it wasn’t for your goodness in our lives. …We recognize today that you are the giver of every good thing in our lives.”

And he helps those listening acknowledge the ways that God has led them through difficulties in their lives.

4. Joel doesn’t take a salary from his church.

Apparently Joel made some profitable financial investments long before he ever became pastor of Lakewood Church. He’s also probably making thousands off his books (unlike me, FYI) and other resources. But, I still think it’s pretty cool that he isn’t paid by his church.

As a bonus, here is a fifth thing I like about Joel Osteen.

(Bonus!) 5. His smile.

Really, who couldn’t love that smile!

Seriously though, I had a colleague of mine review one of my sermons, and he told me that I needed to smile more. I imagine many other preachers would do well to smile more too.

You will note that I didn’t recommend his theology or the content of his preaching.

In conclusion, I’m sure I could find some good things to say about you too, even though I disagree with some of your theology ;-).

Stay tuned for a follow-up post next week.

Question: What do you appreciate about Joel Osteen’s ministry? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

You might also be interested in my posts,”The Main Thing that Concerns Me about Joel Osteen’s Theology” or “Is God For You…Not Against You?

Andrew K. Gabriel, Ph.D., is the author of Touched by God: Experiencing the Holy Spirit (forthcoming) as well as three academic books, including The Lord is the Spirit. He is a theology professor at Horizon College and Seminary and serves on the Theological Study Commission for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. You can follow him on Facebook or on Twitter.

[1] All quotations are from a service at Lakewood Church, recorded Sunday, September 24, 2017, previously available at https://www.lakewoodchurch.com/Pages/Watch-Online.aspx.

[2] I checked out a service from Sunday, October 1, when Joel wasn’t present. I found that Cindy Cruse Ratcliff, Lakewoods Sr. Worship Leader, came out and spoke at about the 25 minute mark.

[3] To be clear, I’m not saying that we should expect every pastor’s wife to be front and center.

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4 thoughts on “4 Things to Like about Joel Osteen

    • My dad has an amazing smile, and it is nearly always there. People always commented on “Pastor Roy’s smile”. I think for some, it’s the only smile they see all week. He taught me to smile too.

  1. I like how you mentioned all the times that Joel preaches the Gospel and tells people to repent of their sin…

    Oh wait, you didn’t.