Lessons From the Time Joel Osteen Asked Me What to Preach On

Lessons From the Time Joel Osteen Asked Me What to Preach On

I want to share with you a few lessons from the time Joel Osteen asked me what to preach on. I started working in the stewardship industry for John Maxwell. Our company was chosen by Joel Osteen to help him raise the $100 million dollars needed to retrofit Houston’s Compaq Center. Even for a church as large as Lakewood $100 million is a huge task. It takes a lot of time and planning.  Our company assigned our top consultants for the task.  I was blessed to be chosen to be on that team.

We had literally been planning for weeks before I ever met Joel personally.  After many meetings, myself and our Executive VP met one Sunday afternoon for hours of discussion and final planning with Joel’s top advisors.  We were set to meet with Joel and Victoria at their Houston home to share our plans the next morning. 

Let me state as an aside that both Joel and Victoria were wonderful hosts.  They welcomed us into their home and we sat around their dining room table laying out the plans we had put together. 

At the end of our meeting, Joel asked, “What should I preach on?”  Suddenly all the eyes turned to me as I was the only other preacher at the table.  This was my moment!  I was going to give advice to a preacher who is probably seen by more people than any other preacher in the world.  Since all eyes had focused on me, Joel too turned his eye and ear toward me.  Here is what I told him.

First, this is different from some series to get people to tithe or give regularly.  You want them to take a journey of faith.  I gave an illustration of how one pastor I had recently worked with used the book of Nehemiah to talk about the walk of faith required for a special time of building and giving.  I finished rather satisfied with my answer until Joel said,

“I just recently preached on faith and I used Nehemiah’s story.”  He paused with his eyes still on me as if to say, “Now what?”  Joel Osteen had just swatted down my best answer!  It was an answer and illustration that I had used multiple times.  Now, what was I to say?  My next reply I attribute to the Holy Spirit as here is what I said,

“The point of my illustration was not to preach what someone else has preached on.  My point is that preaching for campaigns or large giving initiatives is different from preaching on tithing or giving.  The types of commitments we need are going to require the Lakewood family to step up their giving.  To accomplish that we need to take them on a spiritual journey. So the point is not to preach on a specific passage but to keep this in mind as you preach.”

The goal is a God-directed offering.  When you take your donors on a spiritual journey, they arrive at your commitment time seeing giving as an opportunity and joy, not an obligation and burden.  One springs from the heart while the other is typically driven by guilt.

This is the difference between fund raising and faith raising!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach


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