How Joel Osteen Stays Relevant

Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, is taking his Night of Hope event to Denver, Colorado this Friday, 1 June. Anticipating this visit, The Denver Post published a brief write-up and interview with the popular prosperity preacher. In doing so, the newspaper revealed Osteen’s “morning ritual,” which apparently is one of the reasons he is able to keep his messages so relevant and appealing to the masses.

His phenomenal success, he says in typical self-effacing style, comes from telling people “stuff they already know.” Osteen’s morning ritual, reading four or five newspapers on his porch, is one way he tries to find things to say and to stay relevant, he said.

He reads two or three Texas papers, USA Today, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

“I get good stories — inspirational stories from newspapers,” he said. “I cut out stuff every day.”


While it is helpful to know where Osteen finds his listener-friendly anecdotes, one hopes that the Word of God is also part of Osteen’s “morning ritual,” however the article does not say. The story continues, sharing what many already know about Osteen’s message:

His message, Osteen said, is very simple. “I tell people stuff they already know,” he said. “God is good. He’s on our side. God made us to be grateful. We have to let go of the bad and get ready for something new.” Source

Unfortunately, “God is on our side” is not the Gospel. In fact, those who have not repented and placed their faith in Jesus Christ are actually His enemies. Scripture tells us that those whose minds are focused on the temporary things of this world are enemies of the cross.

Interestingly enough, Osteen mentions in this article that, “Prospering to me is having healthy children, peace in your life, good relationships and getting up in the morning with an expectation of joy. But, yes, I think people should excel in their careers and have enough money not to worry about paying their bills.” All wonderful blessings, to be sure, yet none of these earthly things is guaranteed to the believer in Scripture. Rather, the believer is promised an eternal inheritance and blessings in the next life that will not fade.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Phil. 3:17-21, ESV

The Denver Post article also cites Osteen as saying that he believes that most people are “99.9 percent good at heart.” While one would think that reading five newspapers a day would awaken one to the sinfulness of men, it seems Osteen has forgotten the biblical truth that, without Christ, all men are wicked and depraved, unwilling to seek after God (Rom. 3:9–18).

Of course, none of Osteen’s comments or beliefs surprise. If one thing can be said about Joel Osteen, it is that he is consistent, albeit consistently wrong. Yet his success is unparalleled. The reason for this may not be found in the morning paper, but it is found in the one text that is always relevant, the Bible.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Tim. 4:3-4, ESV