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THE RISE OF LAKEWOOD CHURCH AND JOEL OSTEEN

RICHARD YOUNG

Nonfiction
Published January 2007

Whitaker House
ISBN: 0883689758

 

"God can do miracles in the unlikeliest of situations." This statement aptly summarizes this biographical overview of the ministry of Joel Osteen and his late father, John Osteen. Having seen this man preach on TV, this reviewer was fascinated by a preacher who speaks to thousands of people in his church and probably thousands more on television each Saturday evening and Sunday morning and evening. What's so fascinating? Joel Osteen preaches the positive nature of Christian living and refuses to focus on hell and damnation. Sin is described as patterns and addictions that God delights in clearing. What's behind this ministry?

Richard Young's account of Joel's father is riveting in this book - a man who intensely searches for the truth of God, never quits until he has not only found it but experienced it full scale, and then begins to share in word and deed the power, beauty, and majesty of what he has found. You can feel the struggle as well as the victory in this single-minded quest for truth. Very powerful!

Interestingly, when Young covers the ministry of Joel Osteen, the tone changes to one of acclaim for Joel's marketing prowess and his keen ability to draw together the magnificent team that makes Lakewood Church prosper and continue to grow. The charismatic quality of his father's ministry is more evident in the congregant's comments who continue to bring others to experience the grace of Joel and Victoria's ministry. Again, having heard Osteen speak, this reviewer thinks the author could have been stronger here.

One quality that the author emphasizes throughout this entire book is the Osteens' message that belief in the midst of life's challenges is so real it is palpable. "That" is why people continue to drive hundreds of miles to Lakewood Church, and that, despite some controversies about Osteen, is what Richard Young conveys so well which is sure to move readers of like mind!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on January 24, 2007

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