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Joel Osteen is known as an American preacher and televangelist. He is most famous for being the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church. Joel Osteen was born on March 5, 1963, in Houston, Texas. Joel's father was a former Southern Baptist pastor and the founder of Lakewood Church. He grew up in a large family with five siblings. Joel received his education from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he studied radio and television communications. After college, he returned to Houston and began Lakewood Church's televised programming in 1982.
Joel married his wife, Victoria, in 1987. Together, they have had a son, Jonathan, and a daughter, Alexandra. Due to his negative stance on gay marriage, he has received public backlash. He believes that being gay is a sin and being straight is natural. Victoria has also been dragged into many public issues, and the public perceives her as rude and arrogant. Joel and Victoria do not receive a salary for working as pastors at the Lakewood Church; most of their income comes from donations and publications. Joel is worth a total of $60 million, and his home is estimated to be around $11 million. His wealth, earnings from his books, media appearances, and donations enable him to preach as a pastor without a salary. A report estimated that one of his books had made a whopping $13 million.
On January 17, 1999, Joel began his career as a preacher after finally accepting his father's long-standing offer. Six days later, tragedy struck when his father suffered a heart attack and died. This spurred Joel to preach full-time, and two weeks after his father's death, he began preaching frequently. By the end of that year, the church had inaugurated him as the senior pastor of Lakewood Church.
Lakewood Church's attendance saw a rapid increase from 5,000 to 43,000 members in 1999. In 2003, they bought Compaq Center, the former home of the NBA team Houston Rockets, and reportedly spent around $105 million on its renovation. The renovation spanned 15 months and added five additional stories to expand capacity. During the opening ceremony, an estimated 65,000 people were in attendance.
Joel talked to CBN about his feelings preaching in front of a large stadium audience, "You know, it may feel like a rock concert or a pep rally, but there are enough things pulling us down in life. I'd like to come in and say, 'We're going to celebrate what God has done for us, and we all have challenges. We all have reasons not to celebrate, but that's what faith is all about. God, we're going to just celebrate who You are today. We have a great support system. Not only our staff, but we have about 4-5,000 volunteers. And my father got us started in this in that we believe that every believer is a minister. All of us have something to do. And no one is left out, especially the children. In their state-of-the-art facility, they don't just have 'Children's Church.' They have a church for the children, and it totally rocks! We knew if we could get the kids wanting to come to church, then the parents would come."
Joel has written many books to preach his message and the word of Jesus Christ. His first book, "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," went on sale in October 2004 and enjoyed success on the New York Times Best Seller List. His second book, "Becoming a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Everyday Life," was released in October 2007 and put more emphasis on relationships. He wrote about how inappropriate relationships can cause people to remain stagnant in their lives.
In 2011, Joel wrote a book called Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week. Joel decided to write the book after studying research that claimed people were happiest on Fridays. Joel wanted to let the readers understand how they could expand the happiness they enjoyed on Fridays into a daily feeling. If they followed his scriptural insights, they wouldn't have to wait until the end of the week to be happy.
In 2012, Joel published "I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life," breaking away from his usual pattern of seven sections and instead splitting the book into 31 different sections. In each section, Joel encourages his audience to declare each day their love for God through their actions, applying scripture to various aspects of modern living such as health, family, and finances.
When asked by CBN how he was able to reach such a diverse audience, including minorities, the poor, and the rich, Joel said, "It's amazing. It started way back with my father. People ask us all the time how we do it, and I don't know. We never tried to integrate; it's just my dad's message was a message of hope and love, and it seemed like everybody came in all different races. Even when we go to different cities on the road, it's the same thing. It just seems like it's equally mixed and, as you said, not just races, but social economics as well. It's just – you can have a professional ballplayer sitting by somebody who took the bus. When I look out there I think this is what Heaven's going to be like."
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