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John Hillery Osteen (August 21, 1921 – January 23, 1999) was an American pastor and founding pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, from its beginnings in 1959 until his death in 1999. His television program, John Osteen, ran for 16 years and was broadcast to millions in the U.S. and nearly 50 countries weekly.

John Osteen
TitleFounder and Senior Pastor, Lakewood Church
John Hillery Osteen

(1921-08-21)August 21, 1921
DiedJanuary 23, 1999(1999-01-23) (aged 77)
ReligionNon-denominational Christianity (Word of God movement)
SpouseEmma Jean Shaffer (divorced); Dolores (Dodie) Pilgrim Osteen (m. 1954–1999; his death)
Children6 children: Justin, Paul, Lisa, April, Tamara, and pastor Joel Osteen
OccupationPastor, Author, Televangelist
ChurchLakewood Church
Senior posting
Period in office1959-1999
WebsiteLakewood Church website

Life and workEdit

Osteen was born in Paris, Texas.[1] He earned a bachelor's degree from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and a master's degree from Northern Baptist Seminary. He also held a Doctor of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University.[2]

In his biography, Osteen said he did not begin thinking seriously about God until 1939, after leaving a nightclub he frequented. Within a couple of months, he began preaching in Paris, Texas and was apparently ordained to the gospel ministry shortly before his 18th birthday by a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. He served as an Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church in San Diego, Texas after completing his studies at NBTS and by the late 1940s as a minister at First Baptist Church, Hamlin, Texas. Osteen left Hamlin in 1948 to become an itinerant preacher, but within a year he became pastor of Central Baptist Church, Baytown, Texas.

During his pastorate of Central Baptist Church, Osteen and his first wife, Emma Jean Shaffer, began to experience marital unrest and subsequently divorced. He married Dolores "Dodie" Pilgrim on September 17, 1954, and the following year resigned his pastorate. Before long, Osteen again entered pastoral ministry at Hibbard Memorial Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, but left in 1958.

That same year, John and Dodie's first daughter Lisa was born with severe health issues. As he wrestled with her circumstance, his theological beliefs began to shift and he had ecstatic religious experiences, based on what he called "baptism of the Holy Ghost." A year later, on Mother's Day May 10, 1959, he and Dodie started Lakewood Baptist Church in "a dusty, abandoned feed store" in northeast Houston as a church for charismatic Baptists.[3] The church soon dropped "Baptist" from its name and became nondenominational.

In the mid-1980s, Osteen launched the Lakewood Bible Institute (LBI), an "unaccredited school devoted to biblical training from a charismatic perspective." LBI offered a variety of classes including principles of Bible study, healing, conversion, and prayer. Osteen served as LBI's president until its closure in the late-1980s.[4]

Lakewood ChurchEdit

Osteen founded Lakewood Church in 1959 in Houston, Texas and developed Lakewood into a body of approximately 15,000 members with active ministries in televangelism, conferences, missionary support, and food distribution.[5] He hosted the weekly John Osteen television program for 16 years, reaching millions in the U.S. and in many other countries with his preaching. On January 23, 1999 he died after a heart attack at the age of 77. His youngest son Joel Osteen later became the pastor.


  1. ^ "John Osteen's Biography". The John Osteen Television Program. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  2. ^ "From the Oasis of Love to Your Best Life Now: A Brief History of Lakewood Church" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  3. ^ "A Tribute to Pastor John Osteen". Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  4. ^ "From the Oasis of Love to Your Best Life Now: A Brief History of Lakewood Church" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  5. ^ "Popular Texas evangelist John Osteen dies". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-12.

External linksEdit