With a net worth estimated at a whopping $40 million, one would be forgiven for thinking Joel Osteen is some sort of movie star or business mogul. Armed with a megawatt smile and a positivity doctrine that emphasizes God’s love and generosity rather than hell and damnation, the preacher has been able to grow his Lakewood Church into the largest church in America with over 50,000 congregants.
Their weekly services are watched by no less than 10 million viewers in the United States and millions of people tune in from all over the globe. Many of his peers have criticized him for preaching a watered-down version of Christianity and have described him as little more than a motivational speaker. But the criticisms have not slowed him down in any way.
Lakewood Church Isn’t the Direct Source of the Pastor’s $40 Million Net Worth
True, Joel Osteen’s net worth is inextricably tied to his work as the senior pastor of Lakewood Church, but not as many may have imagined. The church has only afforded him the chance to explore other avenues through which he acquired his wealth. Osteen grew up in Texas as the son of a Southern Baptist pastor named John.
His father had founded a small church known as the Lakewood Church in the back of an old feed store and was able to turn it into a large congregation featuring about 7,000 worshippers. Joel lacked the enthusiasm to follow in his father’s footsteps, so he decided to become a part of the broadcast journalism industry. He thus enrolled to study radio and television communications in college.
As fate would have it, Osteen spent just one year in college before deciding to return home in 1982. Upon getting home, he joined his father’s ministry and deployed the little knowledge he had gotten from school to man their TV operations. Osteen would spend the next 17 years supervising all of Lakewood’s TV programs. He was subsequently forced to take over as senior pastor after his dad died in 1999. Since taking the helm of affairs, Joel Osteen has grown the church of 7,000 into the largest church in the United States of America with about 50,000 congregants.
We serve a good God! Nothing you’re facing is too much for Him.
— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodchurch) November 8, 2020
Their weekly services are now watched by tens of millions, both in the U.S. and around the globe. The church also owns an enviable edifice as its headquarters. Located in Houston, the arena formerly served as the home of the Houston Rockets before Osteen’s ministry purchased it in 2003. They subsequently shelled out about $105 million for renovations. The Lakewood Church measures an astonishing 600,000 square feet and can sit up to 16,000 people at a go.
Joel Osteen Earned $200,000 Annually as the Head Pastor of the Church
One of the early sources of Joel Osteen’s net worth is the salaries he earned as the senior pastor of the Lakewood Church. The preacher initially received $200,000 as his annual salary. He however gave that up in the year 2005.
Osteen was motivated to do this because of the other lucrative income sources which opened up to him. Another reason for the decision is his determination to dispel the notion that his ministry work is all in a bid to make money.
The Preacher Bagged a $13 Million Publishing Deal in 2006
The Texas native released his first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps To Living at Your Full Potential, in 2004 and it was a huge success. It topped the NYT self-help bestsellers list and remained there for the next two years. It sold about eight million copies and Osteen earned about $10 million in the process.
Victory starts in our minds.
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) December 8, 2020
Such success has spurred the preacher into publishing more books and he now has about 14 to his name. He also has one of the richest publishing deals ever handed out for a non-fiction book. This was the $13 million contract he received from Simon & Schuster in 2006.
He also Makes Money from Speaking Engagements
Joel Osteen’s charisma has made him a highly sought-after public speaker and he earns a tidy sum from speaking engagements. These events often take place in large stadiums, which are packed to the brim, with tickets going for about $15. Of course, one does not need to be a maths whiz to know that this translates into significant revenue for Joel Osteen.
Sources of Joel Osteen’s Net Worth
- Salaries – $1.2 Million
- Books – $23 Million
- Touring and Speaking Engagements – N/A
Is He the Richest Pastor in the World?
With a net worth of $40 million, one would expect Joel Osteen to rank amongst the wealthiest pastors in the world and that is precisely how it is. The Lakewood senior pastor is the seventh richest pastor in the world.
Others that make the top ten list are Creflo Dollar ($27 million), Rick Warren ($25 million), Joyce Meyer ($25 Million), Jesse Duplantis ($50 million), Benny Hinn ($42 million), Pat Robertson ($100 million), David Oyedepo ($150 million), Bishop T.D Jakes ($150 million), and Kenneth Copeland ($760 million).
The Lakewood Senior Pastor and His Family Own Two Homes in Texas
In comparison to other televangelists, Joel Osteen lives a relatively moderate lifestyle. The pastor owns just two homes. One is a 5600 square foot house in Tanglewood Houston. The house boasts of four bedrooms and is valued at $2.9 million. Osteen and his family also own a home in the wealthy Houston suburb of River Oaks. The home measures 17,000 square feet and has six bedrooms and six baths. Other amenities include five fireplaces, three elevators, a guest house, an outdoor pool, and a pool house. The house is worth about $12 million.
For getting around, Osteen is not known for driving the flashiest of cars. Quite recently, he purchased an Airbus A319 said to be worth about $85 million. The jet has an operational range of 3700 miles and can carry between 124 and 156 passengers.
He Has Faced Criticisms for His Prosperity Gospel and Reluctant Response to Hurricane Harvey
Part of what makes Joel Osteen’s message attractive to his followers is the positivity and prosperity he preaches. The Texas native believes that economic prosperity is one major way God rewards devotees, so he urges his followers to show their commitment to God through tithing and giving regularly to the church.
As can be expected, this has fetched him criticisms from people who believe he should be more focused on telling people to repent from their sins or prepare for hell. Osteen takes such criticism in stride and has maintained that he believes in prosperity. According to him, prosperity is more than material things and more about good marriages, peace of mind, and good health; all of which he believes God wants people to have.
Victoria & I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family.
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 26, 2017
Another event that Joel Osteen has been heavily criticized for is the attitude of his church to giving back to the needy. Back in August 2017, Hurricane Harvey swept through and displaced thousands of individuals. People expected that Osteen would open his megachurch to be used as a temporary shelter. The church delayed in doing this and was sharply criticized for it.