Eugene Cho

i love joel osteen

Okay, not really. 

It’s easy to take cheap shots at well known mega pastors especially when some of them are under an official Senate probe for alleged financial misconduct.  While the probe doesn’t include Joel Osteen – labeled by the media as America’s Pastor, he seems to get his share of lowblows and potshots.  C’mon, admit it – you’re an Osteen Hater. 

Maybe it’s the books, the smile, the Houston Compaq Center for Lakewood’s worship service, the mullet hair, the self help therapy sermons, or the 38,000+  attenders in his church.

I don’t know what it is but you want to find fault and then you read something like THIS.

Are we too quick to judge?  For sure if you abide by Osteen’s philosophy:

“While I never like to hear negative things about friends and other ministers, I choose to believe the very best in them,” Osteen said.”

Seriously, that just makes you think…and repent. 

Ok, so I don’t love Joel [I’m on a first name basis now] but my level of respect for him has grown.

Filed under: religion,

29 Responses

  1. DJ says:

    Umm, I’m not convinced and still not an Osteen fan. I’ve heard him several times and I rarely hear him speak about Jesus. There’s something very wrong about that.

  2. Much of the criticism leveled upon Mr. Osteen; is his presentation of doctrines contrary to the word of God.

    It is our very “human nature” to see a man as being annoited and approved of the Lord because he is wealthy and has a large mega-fellowship. Such is the case with Mr. Osteen and his teachings.

    He preaches another gospel and another Jesus – an all embracing philosophical approach to earthly happiness. Sadly, he does not exhalt Jesus Christ singularly but instead, exhalts the attributes of men who strive to be as God Himself.

    His teachings fall right in line with the likes of Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Creaflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Maryln Hickey, K.C. Frederick Price, Paul Croch and beyond… a word faith doctrine devoid of holiness toward God but an exhaltation of man and his ability to “faith.”

  3. worinld says:

    I think osteen’s very much on the side of ‘seeker-friendly’ (farther than sensitive). But, church is FAR more than simply the sunday sermon. If everyone’s judging based on JUST the sermon and not the church itself, I think there’s a little disrespect going on.

    Do haters really know that there’s no community outside of the sickeningly huge arena? and are bible studies throughout the whole church as watered down as sermons?

    Just cuz I don’t like a guy’s sermons, doesn’t mean that I gotta hate the guy.

    I don’t know, maybe osteen’s only job is to prepare the sunday sermon (in which case, it’s a good thing he hasn’t taken a paycheck in 2 years =P). but if we (generalized we) always say that church isn’t about the sunday services, why do we judge osteen simply based on the sunday services.

  4. chrismarlow says:

    Not really an JO fan…BUT.

    I spoke at a funeral this past Monday. I was not sure if the deceased was a a Jesus-follower. Then a family member told me a story about how the deceased had been watching JO every night and how he need to change his life and follow Jesus.

    I kinda shook my head in guilt…I would never pattern my ministry like JO’s. But, I also think that God uses him.

  5. Tae says:

    Ok. Your title seriously scared me for a little. I understand what you’re saying but just becaus he lives a simpler lifestyle doesn’t mean that he’s still teaching a gospel that’s off base. And that needs to be addressed particularly because he’s known, as you say, as America’s Pastor.

  6. j says:

    on several occasions, i have watched him and read his book “Your Best Life Now”. He is a really good speaker and very captivating. Not because of his presentation but the message it self.

    this is my opinion and i mean no malace. Regardless whether his ministery is a mega church with lack of groups outside of the 4 walls, his intent is to bring us closer to god, believe & trust god, and make the best of our lives in this world before we are at the pearly gate. No one has the right to judge pastors as his has been annointed by holy spirit to minister the gospel. No one has the right to judge one another as far as he is a christian or not. That is God’s job. Not yours and not mine. What we can do is to be accountable to one another to ensure we support one another in the quest to be like jesus. it is not ministers’ job to ensure you ARE or become christian. that is your responsibility. what minister can do is to help you by facilitation an opportunity where the little fire within you in rekindled. are we not expecting too much out of our ministers when we go to listen to him on sundays and bibles studies. after all, the words coming out of his mouth may, on occasion, dilluted by his personal opinions and thoughts. what i am saying is, we need to use the message as a reference but altimightly it is each individual’s responsibility to seek further knowledge, experience the christ within your life, and look behind and learn from your experiences..both good and bad. let’s not be quick to point out the qualities of a person or a ministery and place our judgements on them. but rather, you should seek to use Joel’s message as a reference to better yourself, assist you to reconnect with God, strengthen your relationship with God…

    Joel is a human being after all and God is using him as an instrument. Only if we were so lukcy to have experienced God, be annointed, and able to reach so many people as he has…….

  7. Tae says:


    It’s a good thing that you’re not a pastor.

  8. j says:


    who are you to judge…..

  9. aboulet says:

    While that quote might make Osteen seem like a nice person, I really don’t think that’s the point of the argument against him. The argument isn’t whether he’s a nice guy or not; the argument is whether his teachings are consistent with the Biblical message of Jesus…which I would argue that they are not.

    Perhaps Noetus of Smyrna, the Ebionites, Montanus, or Arius were nice people, but that does not excuse their teachings.

    I’m not going to mince words: Osteen’s feel-good preaching is poison for the church and cripples Christians from true growth. There are two major reasons I say so:

    1) Christianity is not all about feeling good and having happy Jesus smiles on your face. There is suffering and pain that come along with the Christian life. Paul writes in Phil 1.29, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” You won’t find that in an Osteen sermon. This is poison for the church because if a Christian has bought into Osteen’s feel-good preaching and then goes through troubles in her/his life, what do they conclude? They either conclude that Christianity is false because Jesus hasn’t brought them the peace and prosperity that Osteen is espousing or they conclude that they aren’t really trying hard enough at being a Christian, which turns their life into a type of ‘works-righteousness’ Christian life instead of resting in the righteousness that is theirs by their union with Christ.

    2) If someone buys into the idea that Christianity is all about being happy and they go through struggles then they end up faking it when they go to church. They end up pretending like everything is ok even if they are struggling in life. Why? Because they believe that Christianity is all about being happy. This cripples Christians from true spiritual growth, which comes from humbling ourselves, admitting that we are broken people, and then mutually encouraging members of the community of Christ towards growth.

    So, perhaps Osteen is a nice guy. But his teaching is anything but nice. It’s poison masked in smiles and mullets.

  10. j says:

    Jesus = (equals) Love = (equals) happy!

    Jesus has died on the cross to redeem us from our sins. Because he paid for our sins with his life, we have a gift of eternal live. It is up to us to decided whether to accept this gift or not. As a christian, should you not be HAPPY that you have an eternal life. Christianity IS all about being happy. Because you have accepted christ as your savior and now you have eternal life. What is not to be happy about. We strive to be a righteous person/ “good” christian not based on the gift that this world will bring but rather for the eternal salvation.

    Stuggle that we go through, god does not grant those struggles unless we can’t handle them. The worldly problems are created by us, and we can over come. With patience, due dilligence and prayer.

    Look back over your shoulder, buddy! He will be smiling at you! Sounds like you need a good cup of coffee as well

  11. Jennifer says:

    I still dont really like Osteen, but after reading that, I can respect him a bit more.

    I fiugre he’s about one of the biggest targets for jokes/critical comments around (except maybe MD in Ballard) and that kind of commitment to not be critical of others in return is an improvement over what many do.

  12. j says:

    fyi….this is what he belives…seems pretty common with all chstian belief….i do not think anyone of you will object to.

    WE BELIEVE…the entire Bible is inspired by God, without error and the authority on which we base our faith, conduct and doctrine.

    WE BELIEVE…in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this earth as Savior of the world.

    WE BELIEVE…Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for our sins. We believe that salvation is found by placing our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and is coming again.

    WE BELIEVE…water baptism is a symbol of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and a testimony to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    WE BELIEVE…in the regular taking of Communion as an act of remembering what the Lord Jesus did for us on the cross.

    WE BELIEVE…every believer should be in a growing relationship with Jesus by obeying God’s Word, yielding to the Holy Spirit and by being conformed to the image of Christ.

    WE BELIEVE…as children of God, we are overcomers and more than conquerors and God intends for each of us to experience the abundant life He has in store for us.

  13. chickenmomma says:

    Random reader…

    My husband is currently in seminary. Many of the people here do not really care for him and take cheap shots while lecturing on campus.

    Personally, however, I have to say that every time I have caught one of his broadcasts, I feel more uplifted when it’s all said and done.

    I think the Lord can use whomever He chooses and I know of many people that have come to the Lord via one of the broadcasts.

    So who knows, huh?

  14. Sam says:

    People need to lay off good ol’ Joel. He never said he was perfect and his sermons are not standard fare. But maybe that’s why they are popular?

    Plus, unless we visit his church we have no idea what type of in-depth teaching Lakewood attendees receive other than what we judge him by on TV.

    I know it’s not the popular thing to do, but I’m gona give him a break – at least until I understand the immense responsibility and stress associated with pastoring 38,000 people. I don’t think I could do any better. How about you?

  15. 3mily says:

    To me he is less problematic- but only slightly less problematic- than the “hostile conservative” vein of prominent preachers or the overt “prosperity ministers”. He’s one more thing for seekers and doubters to point to as evidence that Christianity lacks depth, is unintellectual, fill-in-the-blank…

    His visibility makes the possibility of idolatry (his own or those following him) to his image too likely.

    We need more “populist” preachers committed to exhorting social justice, not personal success/happiness/wealth. However, it looks like those voices are either too busy trying to live their work and/or too unmarketable in our culture.

  16. Don in Texas says:

    I do attend Lakewood Church and I will tell you the same thing that every one of the 50,000 members will tell you as well: We are taught that Jesus is everything and without Him we are not saved. For many years we have seen Buddists, Muslims, and athiests give up there religion (or lack thereof) and accept Jesus Christ. Never has anyone walked up to Joel and said, “Great sermon, I think I’ll give my life ot Mohammed.” While most of the critics dont’ think he talks about Jesus enough on TV, everyone else gets it! Everyone knows he’s a Christian and that the God he speaks of is the the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… the God that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. BTW, the “We Believe” that J posted above is from the Lakewood Website. It is what we believe, regardless of what the critics tell you.

    • Marc Aureli says:

      I’m laughing because “Don in Texas” is Don Iloff. That’s Joel’s brother-in-law and his head of PR. Come on, tell people who you are and don’t hide behind “Don in Texas.”

  17. e cho says:

    Don in Texas:

    Thanks for dropping by the blog. I love it when folks defend their pastors.

  18. j says:


    Do i get a credit for defending all pastors of america?
    not that i was looking for credit

    You are correct. I copied and pasted what your congregation repeats from your church website to ensure there are no misinterpretation on what the message from your church.

  19. Michael says:

    I think his intentions are spot on target.

  20. Matt K says:

    While I too find Osteen’s theology pretty shallow, it is hard to hate him. And its unfair to characterize him and his parishoners without knowing them. A friend of mine in Houston claims that members of Osteen’s church are incredibly active in tons of Houston outreach services for the poor. I can argue with some of the theology, but I can’t argue with loving the poor…

  21. JulieRK says:

    I too love Joel and how God is using him. I have attended small, medium and large churches, and their goal is always the same – to grow bigger, reach more people. Then I see these same people criticize Joel for reaching too many people! (And, by the way I have not stepped into any church where there was no passing of the plate). In fact, the Baptist churches seem to hit me up the most – there is always a hand wanting money for something – building fund, missions, etc etc.

  22. Rick says:

    It is sad to see people like William Cody above totally miss what God is doing through Joel. Very sad…

  23. dashed says:

    i wonder why it’s always bigger and more and not deeper with the few. doesn’t it say things in the bible about the one lost sheep, the hairs on your head, the bird that falls from the sky – those things to me seem to point to an idea of the one being invested in, not just added to the many belt notches…

    just a thought

  24. Don in Texas says:

    Julie: Your point is good. Would it also make sense that precisely because of the “one lost sheep” that Joel Osteen is out among the lost. Many of us Christians (and pastors) prefer to play it safe — go to our church each Sunday and only socialize with our saved church friends. But that’s not where the ‘lost’ are. His ‘lost sheep’ are out in the world — lost. When your calling is to “Go unto all the world and preach the Gospel,” and you do it well, big numbers happen. There are a lot of lost people out there.

  25. Filly says:

    Joel’s website says it all.
    An unbeliever on this site on TV states that “Joel doesn’t tell them that they are going to hell, or anything. He just tells them to be the best that they can be”

    Is this “going into the world and make desciple”? This guy is lost even more than before.

    You must say that the worldly people LOVE Joel, not so?
    John 15:18
    19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

    So if non-Christians and deceived Christians LOVE him, then he must be of the world. Pastors that stand up for what the Bible teaches on Moral issues etc are hated because they speak truth in spite of ridicule or persecution. Joel doesn’t stand for anything. The road is narrow that leads to salvation and few find it, but his followers are on a broad road to hell.

    Joel is far too important, his name, his ‘messages’, his church, his books. He is more important than God or Jesus in Lakewood and in the world. This is dangerous as God is a jealous God and does not share His glory with ANYONE.

    If for some reason, Joel was not there anymore, what would happen to Lakewood. Don?

    Is Lakewood built on the rock, or Joel Oesteen?

    God knows that “religion” is a way to get rich” Joel is just helping himself to everyone’s need for God in their lives and is not a blessing from God. God warns about the deceitfulness of riches and wouldn’t want us to stumble through it.

    I am not a hater, I in fact watched Joel regularly until the Holy Spirit gave me enormous unease with his sermon four weeks ago. Since then, I have been watching, taking down the scripture versus to look them up and making up my own mind. I suggest that you do the same. You might see something different about them.

    Keep seeking God and Jesus and not Joel. It is for his own good, he will be the one to suffer not you.

  26. Nicky says:

    Joel Osteen is a wonderful speaker and author. Anyone who criticizes him should first attmept what he’s done– go without a salary, and support yourself by writing a bestselling book.– while pastoring a mega church and touring the country. This is no small accomplishment! Instaed of criticisng Joel, we should pay attention to what he’s saying. We can learn something from a man like Joel who is successful in business, faithfully devoted in marrage, professes Christ and manages to smile in spite of the toughest critics. Stop trying to over analyze and find fault with Joel. This is counterproductive and pointless. Find something better to do with your time. Go out and accomplish something worthwhile … rather than knocking other people down.

  27. Filly says:

    Please read my second last paragraph above again. When the Holy Spirit shows you the deception, you do not keep quiet about it.

    Ezekiel 33:8&9
    8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.


my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 5 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t…… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: || 6 days ago