Lakewood Church in Texas was robbed on Sunday of a total of $600K. Houston Police Department confirmed, in addition to written credit card information, cash totaling $200K and checks totaling $400K was taken from a safe at the church. Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, Pastor Joel Osteen, encouraged his membership to begin monitoring their credit card and bank statements for fraudulent activity.
Osteen was thrust into ministerial leadership after the passing of his father, John Osteen, who founded the church. He is known for his ability to simplify scripture and make it relevant for everyday life. Osteen begins every sermon with a joke and a story.
Osteen believes that people have become less interested in specific denominations and the church has to change with the times. Osteen leads a non-denominational congregation of greater than 40,000 members. He says he has friends who used to be hardcore Baptists which have transitioned and no longer include
“Baptist” in the church name.
The famed pastor and his wife Victoria say despite their huge following accompanied with international success they never aimed to be a large church. Osteen’s parents started the church with only 90 people and it grew from there.
Osteen believes that his connection with his congregation is what has helped to expand membership. When he speaks from the pulpit he says it is as if he is talking to one person. Osteen tells people, “Yes we are a big church” but he would love to meet them. After each service he takes about an hour to meet and greet about 500 people.
Osteen says when he prepares his message he always takes the practical approach. In his mind it is as if he were only talking to about two or three people; he speaks the same way he would talk to them. Osteen says it definitely would not be “preachy” or very religious. Religion has been known to turn people off so he would rather talk about relationship with God.
Osteen, who says he never did any of this for money, has an estimated net worth of about $40 million. According to this mega successful pastor, neither he nor his wife takes a salary from the church. Instead, Osteen says he wrote a book that sold millions of copies.
Osteen has been the recipient of much criticism; he has been called a salesman who waters down the gospel. People have disapproved his message saying he is less concerned with people walking the narrow path of righteousness and more worried about believers being happy. This criticism has not detained him from establishing himself as the head of the country’s largest church and one of the most popular ministers in the United States and abroad.
In 2003 the former home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets became the new home of this Houston-based church. The stadium cost reportedly $105 million to renovate in order to accommodate the thousands of people who attend services on a weekly basis.
Although his appeal stretches the entire globe, Osteen says he, Victoria and their two children lead as normal of a life as possible. He says he is a happy person who plays basketball, rides his bike, runs and is not afraid to go out in public and chat with people.
Osteen says his father was raised during the Depression and he saw him come from nothing and make something great of his life. This is what Osteen believes God wants for everyone. God wants people to be leaders and excel.
On Sunday Lakewood Church in Texas was robbed of a total of $600K. This was not an electronic data breach but was limited to donations received during services that day. The monies were fully insured and the church is working with their insurance company to restore the funds Lakewood Church.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)