Skip to comments.Ministers and money (Osteen, Warren, and other Rich preachers)
Posted on 03/22/2008 8:14:21 AM PDT by Terriergal
MARK I. PINSKY The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — If the evangelical world is looking for a poster child to offset the negative publicity surrounding rich televangelists, Joel Osteen would be a good choice.
Joel Osteen, pastor of the nation’s largest megachurch, preaches at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, where services are broadcast around the world.
Osteen is among the nation’s most widely recognized television ministers, trailing only Billy Graham and Rick Warren, and in 2006 was named the most influential Christian in America by readers of Church Report magazine.
The contrast is stark between Osteen and the six televangelists suspected by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley of living lavish lifestyles — large estates, vacation homes, exotic trips, luxury cars and private jets — at the expense of their tax-exempt, television ministries. Among the accused are Paula and Randy White of Tampa, Fla., and Benny Hinn, formerly of Orlando, Fla.
Author Herbert E. Brown, in his 2001 book, characterized such high-living pastors as “pimps in the pulpit.”
Osteen lives a much different life.
He has not taken a salary from his Houston mega-church for two years. He owns one house, the same one he has lived in for 13 years, and until recently he drove a 9-year-old car he inherited from his late father.
While on road trips, Osteen pays his own hotel bills, and there is no private jet.
Although the upbeat minister does take collections at services, netting an estimated $43 million a year, Osteen does not ask for money on his television broadcasts, which reach an estimated 7 million viewers weekly in the United States and 100 other countries. Nonetheless, another $30 million comes through the mail. His most recent book deal earned him a $13 million advance.
“We make plenty of money from our books,” said Osteen, 44. “But we just live normal lives. We try to be conservative and honor God with our life and with our example.”
Osteen refuses to condemn the targets of Grassley’s inquiry, or Richard Roberts, who stepped down as president of Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma City amid charges that he used school funds and facilities for his family.
“While I never like to hear negative things about friends and other ministers, I choose to believe the very best in them,” said Osteen. “I believe them all to be people of integrity.”
Osteen leads the 48,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston, based at the Compaq Center, which the non-denominational congregation renovated at a cost of $100 million.
A best-selling author of religious and inspirational books, Osteen’s services border on the nonsectarian, with no crosses in evidence. His theology is more inspirational than theological, with a strong emphasis on self-help, in the feel-good tradition of Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Osteen speaks from a lectern he prefers to call a “podium,” rather than a “pulpit.” His books are filled with lots of exclamation points, but the word “Jesus” rarely appears.
Osteen’s first book, “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential,” sold millions of copies. His latest, “Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day,” is on the New York Times best seller list, and propelled him onto “60 Minutes” and “Larry King Live,” as well as several magazine covers.
In his latest book, Osteen points to himself as an example of unlocking hidden potential. A college dropout with no formal preparation for ministry, he preached for the first time when his father, who founded Lakewood Church, became ill and died. For the preceding 17 years, Joel Osteen had worked behind the scenes in production at the television ministry.
The success of these books raises questions about how religious figures should handle the millions of dollars in royalties and contributions.
Osteen is not the only prominent religious figure who tries to navigate these issues and, by doing so, differentiate himself from such controversies.
Warren, for example, has repaid every dollar he has earned in the pulpit of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and pledged to give away 90 percent of his book royalties. He accepts no speaking fees, and is not as reluctant as Osteen to criticize those who are less altruistic.
“Success in any area often creates a spirit of entitlement — ‘I deserve this’ — that is the exact opposite of servant leadership,” Warren said.
“It is evidence of insecurity and low-self esteem. Insecure people show off. Secure people serve.”
Osteen agrees, offering his own definition of the prosperity gospel.
“I never preach a message on money,” he said. “I do believe that God wants us to be blessed, to have good marriages, to have peace in our minds, to have health, to have money to pay our bills. I think God wants us to excel. But everyone isn’t going to be rich — if we’re talking about money.”
“I never preach a message on money. I do believe that God wants us to be blessed, to have good marriages, to have peace in our minds, to have health, to have money to pay our bills. I think God wants us to excel. But everyone isn’t going to be rich — if we’re talking about money.”Joel Osteen
Seems to me an entirely 'upright life' isn't a previous requirement of a servant of God. But speaking the truth of the Gospel is. (e.g. Paul had been responsible for the deaths of many Christians before he came to the knowledge of the WHOLE truth -- and then began to preach it himself!)
So? This piece sounds like class hatred and jealousy to me.
While I certainly have my issues with Osteen’s message, and wonder about his qualifications as a pastor, this article surprised me. If what is said about Osteen in this article is true, then I must say that I misjudged him and that I have much more respect for him as a man. Not necessarily as a pastor. But as a man.
Joel Osteen is the pastor of Lakewood Church, and his gift in ministry is encouragement. There are gifts that God gives, and they differ by person.
Yes, you are correct that an upright life isn’t a requirement to be a servant, because God will purge your life and make you a servant if willing.
Lastly, the bible says “in the last days men will say godliness is great gain, but I tell you godliness with contentment is great gain”. The prosperity doctrine has lost more christian because not everyone is going to be rich. When they buy into that lie, then they become discouraged when it doesn’t happen to them. God wants to bless us as we give, but we don’t give to get, because giving tithes and offerings are a part of doing the right thing.
Osteen has always told the truth biblically, but his gift is to appeal to those who need Jesus, and not those who already have him.
When you say “qualifications” to be a pastor (lead elder) what do you mean?
My sister had worked at Heritage USA in one of the gift shops. She said she saw Tammy give a poor woman the $5,000 mink coat off her back. I asked my sister, where Tammy got the money for the coat. I said she took it from contributions from poor people on social security at $25 a month.
But in the words of Reverend Ike "God wants you to be rich and I'm setting the example."
“his gift in ministry is encouragement. There are gifts that God gives,”
You are exactly correct. Joel Osteen brings people to know and love God. I do not see where he deserves any critisism.
Me either. Joel Osteen teaches ppl WHO they are in Christ...
Didn’t his wife throw one of those “don’t you know who I am?” tantrums on a plane a few years ago?
I have noticed that Osteen preaches a watered down feel good gospel, which is a disservice to those who come to his church. He also appears to emphasize personal material reward for service to God rather than service to God on its own without consideration of whether you receive anything on earth in return.
When one sees what the Christians in African nations are enduring and know that their faith and service puts ours to shame (they are laying down their lives for Christ), the feel good messages of Joel Osteen fall flat. We ought not to worship God for what we can get out of it. We ought to Worship God for who God is and if God chooses to reward us for our service by giving us trials and tribulations rather than material comforts, then we ought to count it all joy. I don't think I've seen such a message from Joel. His emphasis appears to be on material blessings as a reward for service to God.
If you can prove me wrong, I'd appreciate it.
“He also appears to emphasize personal material reward for service to God rather than service to God on its own without consideration of whether you receive anything on earth in return.”
No he doesn’t. He even makes a point to say that the good we do while we are here may not bear fruit for us but will be a blessing to our children and grandchildren. What’s material about that?
Maybe I’m wrong.
Don't watch TBN.
TBN is blocked on our TV.
I wonder how what Osteen’s wife owns
Because it is virtually impossible to tell what comes money comes from God and what money comes from Satan. It's the same color.
Osteen’s message is more like Santa than God. “Your Best Life Now”???? Think about that one. You think this place is better then Heaven? If this is your best life, you are going to Hell.
The Coral Ridge Hour is on TBN.
I do not know what that is.
Your on a roll today. You go girl!!!!!
I don't begrudge ministers for making money. There is nothing in scripture that states pastors have to be poor. That being said, I hate to sound skeptical but there is something fishy in this article. While everything that is said in the article may be true, I suspect there is more to this story.
There are several televangelists who preach the “Prosperity Gospel” that you are talking about, however Olsteen is much more conservative declaring what the Bible says about it which is in Malachi Ch 3:6-12.
I do not agree with the prosperity gospel, but I do believe in the universal laws God spoke into existence when he created the world. “You reap what you sow”, and if you sow tomato seeds, you get tomatoes. If you sow kindness you will reap kindess, and so on. So there is a law spoken into existence that brings a blessing down the road when you are a blessing. And that’s the points I have heard him make, although I don’t watch him regularly.
I have read the book, and its more about finding out how to make the most of your life while you are here, and finding your purpose so you will be happier. Some people are just plain negative and stubborn and refuse to enjoy life, and will never figure out why God placed them here. They are just too happy being a sourpuss.
I like Joel Osteen. He does have the gift of encouragement and I have NEVER heard him ask for money.
Vision posts Joel Osteen’s messages. I have found them to be very encouraging and I see very little, if any, emphasis on material things. Why don’t you ask her to send you some?
Osteen doesn’t push money or even talk about it. I’ve never heard him say one word about riches except those found in Christ.
Ever read the book? He’s talking about living your best life here on earth, Appy. Most of us don’t.
When we give God the First Fruits of our lives, whether it’s in tithes or time, He blesses us. He has to, it’s one of his principles.
And how does he define his best life?
I’ve only read a couple of chapters so far, but from his programs, our best life is being close to God, to be positive instead of always negative about our situations, to give to others, to be an encourager, to love your family and treat eachother with love and respect. You know, all the good Godly stuff we should be doing instead of mumbling, complaining, expecting the worst in everything.
I have heard sound clips of Osteen declaring that he gets first class upgrades on airplanes because God does this for him. I guess those clips were taken out of context like Rev. Wright's coments?
Hey, I get gifts and free stuff all the time because I believe in tithing and giving according to God’s word. So what’s your point? If you give regularly and tithe at church, then I am sure you are also being blessed but just don’t realize it.
To compare Osteen with Wright is like comparing daylight and darkness...silly. I think there are a lot of problems with certain types of preaching where money is concerned, and I think Wright’s Black Liberation Theology is just plain divisive and racist.
However I think God’s word is clear what he approves of and doesn’t, and I take my instruction from the Bible not a preacher. The KOOLAID drinkers got their eyes off Jesus and onto Jim Jones, and that’s why they ended up dead.
Reverend Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright drives a Porsche. I wonder what other finer things he has.
Check out his wrist. I’ll bet there’s a Rolex.
I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.
Well I guess he's avoiding 'middle classness.'
By bypassing it and going straight to upper classness.