If you read their doctrinal statement, on their website, you’ll notice what they say.




Bible is the inspired and only infallible and authoritative Word of God. Salvation

has been provided and is available for people through Jesus Christ. Through His

sacrifice on the cross, we can die to our sinful nature and be born again to a

new life of purity and power.


Baptism is a symbol of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and a testimony

to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Baptism in the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2:4, is given to believers who ask

for it, provides power to live a sanctified and holy life and to be effective

in service to God.


children of God, we are overcomers and conquerors and have authority over the

devil and his works.

This sounds great. However, as you’ll come to see, “sounding Biblical” is different than “acting Biblically.”

They even have an answer for why they don’t really present the Gospel, during sermons: “The proclamation of the Gospel comes after individuals have opened their hearts to God and turned from themselves to others. Only then are they truly ready to hear and benefit fully from the Word of the Lord.”

Sounds reasonable, right?

Before every sermon, Joel leads his congregation in the following response:

This is my Bible.
I am what it says I am.
I have what it says I have.
I can do what it says I can do.
Today I will be taught the Word of God.
I boldly confess my mind is alert, my heart is receptive.
I will never be the same.
I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible, ever-living seed of the Word of God.
I will never be the same.
Never, never, never.
I will never be the same. In Jesus name.

What I have for you is something interesting. My parents went to his Lakewood Church last year. My mother has lymphatic/breast cancer, and was going to Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center.

They had heard about how large, and how great Lakewood was. So, they went to visit.

This was in the old building, before they moved to the arena. Outside, there are rows of flags. Inside, there is beautiful granite lobby. For new members, there is a room, with 12-foot ceilings. Very large. On the back wall, is a picture of “The Family”. The recently deceased Pastor John, his wife Dodie. Joel and Victoria. Paul and Jennifer. Kevin and Lisa Comes. (Lisa is John’s daughter). This picture is huge. It covers the entire back wall. The receptionists, the tour guides – they refer to the Osteens as “The Family”.

“The Family”? Hrmm. This sounds a bit Baker-like, doesn’t it?

When they asked about the flags – the 50+ flags outside – they asked: “Are those for the missionaries you support?” In many churches, they put out flags for each country they have missionaries in. The church I grew up in did that. So have several other churches I’ve attended.

The answer? “No… we have some missionaries in those countries. That’s not what they are for”.

Hrmm. Well, Lakewood prides itself in being “multicultural”. Which is fine. Their old building was located in the heart of the Houston ghetto, too. Well, a bad neighborhood, at least.

The tour guide gushed: “When visitors come, “The Family” stand right over there (in the lobby), and meet everyone, and talk to them. She points at a raised dias, well above the rest of the floor. Well, that sounds like putting them up on a pedestal to me. Literally.

Joel is the former media pastor of the church. Image, and marketing is where he comes from. Inside the sanctuary, there are riding camera pods set into the roof, which can zoom down, around, and everywhere, to film the services. The choir risers come up out of the floor. The band is arranged around a spinning globe of the world, to one side. They have Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff, Israel Houghton (or, if you prefer: here), and Marcos Witt to lead their worship. As a Music Director’s son, I can tell you – that’s an impressive lineup. She says so, as well.

But, now we come to doctrine.

“Listen folks, most of you here are born again Christians. But what I want to say to you is this is when you share your faith, don’t talk about the preacher, don’t talk about the church, talk about the fact that their sins have already been forgiven. That’s the good news. Listen; don’t dangle people over the fires of hell. Lisa and I always kid about you know we’re going to dangle them over the fires of hell. Listen, that doesn’t draw people to God. They know what kind of life they live. They know how bad they’ve lived. What you’ve got to do is talk about the goodness of God. Listen, it’s the goodness of God that brings people to repentance. It’s the goodness of God.”

That quote can be found here. This is his easter sermon.

Wait, wait… can I get a comparison to Jonathan Edwards? Anyone? Please, feel free to contribute.


I don’t want to judge, Joel, though. I want to point out two things.

1. He DOES preach Jesus. He mentions Jesus quite a bit, and he DOES say that Jesus is the savior, and that there are sins to be saved of. He gives the gospel – at least in some of his online sermons. Ok? He is NOT the antichrist, and he is not “our worst enemy”.

2. HOWEVER. His church, and much of his message are much, much, MUCH too man-centered. It is NOT repentance oriented. It is NOT “go, and sin no more” oriented. It is NOT spiritual meat. It is spiritual milk, being preached to thousands of spiritual babes. Because he doesn’t preach meat, he never creates spiritual adults. He keeps his thousands in their spiritual infancy.

THAT is what is dangerous. If he will not stand for doctrinal meat, if he skips over doctrinal “hard topics”, and he fails to teach, and only exhorts on a superficial level – he is failing in his calling. To teach the word of God, you need to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Which, incidentally, means dividing all of it. If he skips the meat, and stays with the milk, he will create a generation of spiritual infants, who teach other spiritual infants. Never will they grow up, and be “equipped” to fight the battle against the “principalities, and powers of this world”.

This is a problem. Joel, as I read him, definitely preaches the Bible. Unfortunately – he is too centered on himself, on “the power of thinking”, and on “faith healing”. Too much concentration on “the power of faith”. When my mother, who I mentioned was in Houston to be treated for cancer, arrived at this church – they gave her a pamphlet with detailed how she could be “miraculously healed”. Needless to say, friends – she was very, very upset. The receptionist prayer over her, and kept pushing on her back, as if she was supposed to “fall over in the Lord”.

Come now. I understand they are charismatic – but… skipping doctrine, encouraging man-centric theology/teaching, and promoting faith healing just is NOT mainline Evangelical thought. It’s not even left-leaning Evangelical thought.

He would be classified as a “charismatic” pastor, in my humble opinion. In no way should he be considered necessarily “Evangelical”, or even remotely so. He downplays too many fundamentals, and exalts too many man-centric concepts, despite the fact that he does preach, nominally, from the Bible.

So… that’s my story. And I’m sticking to it.

If you read this Joel… I love ya. But please… preach more doctrine, and less fluff, man.