Joel Osteen — senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — is finally agreeing to shelter flood victims in his massive arena-turned-church.

Osteen was initially dragged on Twitter — briefly becoming a nationally trending topic on the social media platform — for not accepting flood victims despite the interior of his building being suitable for shelter. A tweet from author Charles Clymer showed the inside of Lakewood Church with air mattresses inside of a hallway, implying that the building was being prepared as an emergency shelter for Houstonians who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey:

Hurricane Harvey is continuing to hover over Southeast Texas, dumping more than 9 trillion gallons of water on the city as of Monday morning, with several more feet of rain expected in the coming days. The resulting flooding may end up displacing as many as 30,000 people, according to FEMA administrator Brock Long. The American Red Cross is operating out of the George R. Brown Convention Center, which they say is equipped to shelter only 5,000 flood victims.

Osteen’s Lakewood Church — which seats 16,000 at a time — is located in the exceedingly wealthy River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, and used to be known as the Compaq Center. When accounting for all weekly services, Osteen’s total congregation amounts to more than 40,000 people, making it the largest Protestant congregation in the United States. Osteen also ranks among the top eight richest pastors in the country, with a net worth of more than $40 million. He and his family live in a $10.5 million home — all made possible by Osteen’s tax-exempt church.

Given Osteen’s tremendous wealth and the size of his church, some Houstonians expected the pastor to open the doors of his facility to some of the thousands of locals whose homes have been submerged under the relentless rain pounding Southeast Texas. Gizmodo writer Matt Novak did some digging and found out that along with Osteen initially not sheltering flood victims, his church wasn’t even flooded.

To underscore this point, he linked to a Houston Chronicle article about a furniture store just down the street from Lakewood Church that is opening its doors to flood victims. Novak also reminded his followers that the IRS code only allows churches to have tax exempt status based on the implication that they’re operating for the good of the public.

Several Houstonians have allegedly told Novak that Osteen blocked them from his official Twitter account when they asked him why he wasn’t sheltering flood victims. Novak then tweeted that not only does Lakewood Church appear to be safe from the floodwaters, the building’s underground garage is also dry.

However, while the pastor of America’s largest Protestant congregation hadn’t yet opened his doors as of Monday evening despite thousands of residents seeking shelter, three of the facilities listed as public shelters for flood victims are Islamic centers:

(UPDATE 11:40 PM ET) After hours of being shamed on social media, Osteen finally agreed to let Lakewood Church be used as a shelter, despite claiming earlier on Monday that the building was flooded and unable to shelter flood victims.)


Matthew P. Robbins is an economics reporter for Grit Post covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats. 

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  1. Old Lakewood church is being relocated to George R Brown. They didn’t want to help there either. People have no food or water.

    1. Oh, how convenient that he has an “agenda” now. He’s just telling the truth, but since you’re no more than a shill for the fraud Osteen you try and spin it into something else, though everyone can see right through that.

  2. Well, the displaced can go to the unflooded MORMON churches…. Oh wait, the Mormons refuse to open their doors as well!!!

    1. That’s simply not true. Some LDS meeting houses were damaged as was the temple, other meeting houses have been opened and humanitarian aid had already been sent and was in place even before the worst of it hit.

      1. If you doubt that the LDS church is one of the first on the scene to help with volunteers and supplies in any national disaster, you need to do your research. Visit the LDS Welfare Center in SLC for a tour, you’ll come out with a wonder and appreciation for not only the generosity, but the efficiency of this organization.

    2. Watch, the mormons will be a huge force in the clean up as well. One of the Mormon churches is a boat command center to coordinate rescue.

  3. I’m a Lakewood Member and I’m very disappointed in Joel and Victoria Osteen.. John Gray who is the Co Pastor is lavishing in their Rich Neighborhood getting Fat on food while everyone else is Starving and Homeless… Ya’ll better do something tomorrow to make a difference. Use your Funds for once to help Houston

    1. I never cared to listen to him because for some reason he always gave me a bad feeling and I felt as tho his heart really was not in the right place I hope I’m wrong but I just can watch or listen to him

    2. Get the facts straight. Lakewood has been in contact with the city leaders. Don’t be deceived by the people who have their own agenda….

      UPDATE: Lakewood Church is now open as a distribution center and shelter. If you can safely make it to Lakewood and want to volunteer, feel free to go and help out. If you have any supplies to donate, especially infant food, diapers, etc. please bring them to Lakewood. Thanks!

      1. Why didn’t he open up since the beginning and to lie and say it was flooded! You along with him are a clown 🤡 only on top of that you are a fool for believing this idiot!

    3. Keep giving them your money every week so the can get even more money. I’d rather give 10% of my pay to a local charity than this clown.

  4. Osteen is waiting until most of the flood victims have found shelter elsewhere and then opens for a few to get positive press. A good person helps altruisticly. He is clearly not.

  5. Joel Osteen has never been a man of God in my eyes. He is a very good motivational speaker but nothing more. I have watched his TV services and never once have I seen him preach out of the Bible as he gives his sermons. That doesn’t work for me!!
    Maybe this will help people see why this man has such an amazing Church. Not for his love of God as much for his love of money. Shame on you Joel Osteen!!
    Your doors should have been open as soon as you saw this happening to your city.
    God Bless all who is affected by this devastating storm.

    1. Completely agree with you. When I heard him say there are many ways to heaven he lost me. That is so incorrect because the Bible says there’s one way and that’s through Jesus Christ. This helps show what kind of man he really is. He’s just a motivational speaker. He tells people what they want to hear to get their money. Maybe it’s the money that has made him lose sight.

    2. I agree exactly with ur words of wisdom , it doesn’t take much to see what sort of person he is and what kind of congregation he is controlling, no doubt Satan has blinded the eyes of such who follow him and any other sort of his teaching

  6. Is lake wood church or Joel Osteen ministries non profit? I thought paying for the service as members was not a non profit thing? That’s profit…I don’t know how these church things work. I don’t attend any. Please give me legit info here–>

  7. It’s easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven!!! Joel and his 10.5 million dollar home is ridiculous…even 500,000 for a pastor home would be extravagant. Wake up people he he stealing your money and most definitely a false prophet. The Lord didn’t need all that to preach his word and he definitely didn’t have a mansion here on earth… he gave his life so we could have a mansion to call home with God! Joel get you priorities straight before you preach another word to your followers. Your 10 million dollar home could feed and house so many homeless and hungry children of this USA. Instead you have a huge home for your small family, while your follows and tax payers help support you! Just in case you were just a little in doubt how the world would see this high class living…don’t be…they see it the same way God would.. an abomination!

  8. What would Jesus do, Joel? The church is not yours to share. Don’t you know that everything we are given is a gift of God to be share with everyone, especially those in need. You are an imposter. A false leader. I hope your congregation figures this out. Absolutely disgusting!

  9. I’m not a member of Osteen’s church, nor have I ever been there, but I can ASSURE you if that church funded every dime of the rescue and care of this flooding, there would still be negative media simply because it’s a church..Just like for the President. .The press has no good news to tell because only ridicule and enuendo sells..God forbid any positive or good remarks be said over anything in this city/country in this day and time! Let’s try to find more slander! Who cares what anyone makes..other’s finances are none of our business ..I know mine aren’t and neither are anyone else’s..

    1. With these remarks, you obviously don’t have a true Houstonian/Texan spirit. We know whom not to come to when we need help – YOU! This is not about the media. This is not about Novak. This is not about the President. This is not about Osteen’s mansion or his yearly income. This is about people in general, and especially people with resources that others don’t have, who see the chaos, loss, tragedy, death, tears, hopelessness, etc. around them, feel sad & broken themselves, and genuinely and wholeheartedly want to help. It’s so wrong (and negative) for you to think everyone is focusing on the negatives! We have seen and heard more positive & kind stories in the last 5 days of the storm than we have in an entire year. There’s no need for you to be in a defensive mode! I hope you and your family are doing well!

    2. Regardless of the fact that the Press revels in sensationalism – the truth remains that the church is a place of refugee . Have you forgottten that it’s the people that help to fund the church and the church’s tax exempt status is given on the basis that the church is for the people and not a private entity ?
      The church should do better as it is expected to be it’s brother’s keeper.

    3. They are tax-exempt. Essentially they profit off of the general public so everything they do deserves to be scrutinized. That is more than fair.

    4. I see people saying good things about the Muslims who opened their temples to those in needs despite their religion…
      Please I always like to listen to this guy because he is a good motivator speaker but to pretend he is man of God…? It’s good that people talks so if they keep making him rich is ok…. He is a good speaker and he can help and motivate others but do not call yourself a church… all religious people get judge because of picks like him…

    5. Sorry, thats crap. The news media have been running wall-to-wall stories about neighbors rescuing neighbors and ordinary citizens setting out to find people in need using their personal boats. The number of feel-good stories is massively out of proportion to the number of criticisms. Instead of reflexively hating the media because some faux-angry windbag on the radio or TV tells you how awful it is, maybe you could actually, oh I dont know, WATCH IT SOME TIME with a half-open mind— if youre still capable of cracking it open a little— and see for yourself.

    6. Yes yes yes but why live in a mansion wouldn’t a modest home be suitable and with money saved help out your fellow man! No but his church was flooded LIAR 🤥 the church was fine no damage whatsoever! I hope he loses his tax exempt status!

    1. That’s like saying that white people are this and black people are that. I find the exact opposite is true, the more a person has, the more they give. The exception, if you are greedy when you are poor, getting money may not make you generous. Being rich or poor doesn’t usually change someone’s core values.

      1. Sorry but that is wrong many millionaires are greedy and don’t help anyone with money comes greed that’s why it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into Heaven!

  10. I think since he is finally saying they’re willing to help these poor flood victims out about time!!! I also think they should convert that nice parking garage into a temporary animal shelter. Of course this would be temporary Joel. I pray for you on judgement day when you stand before God almighty because standing on the stage in your mega church must be very nice. I truly sincerely pray for you.

  11. He is a fraud. He is money hungry and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He doesn’t preach about God and Jesus, he preaches about how to feel good about yourself. He is NOT a man of God.

  12. I have said it all on just because you are a pastor a preacher or whoever you claim to be or whatever you claim to be does not make you any better than any of the rest of the people just because you have more money and you think you live better that could not be farther from the truth in fact the way that you have chose to be in this time of crisis shows who you really are and there is no denying that!!

  13. I pray the people of Houston will show olsteen the error of his way by boycotting his church. He just in it for the money anyway.

  14. And with this obvious fakery and fuckery you devotees of Olsteen will still sit like fakes and kiss his ass and fill his pockets. How utterly mindlessly STUPID can you be??!! You cant see what a user your phony little preacher man is! Oh that’s right, I forgot, as long as you pay your tithes and sit in piety in church on sun worship day, your gullible god will put you in his utopian kingdom where you can live in bliss for alllllll eternity!

  15. THIS IS PURE GREED AND QUITE UPPITY SAYING IT WILL MESS UP HIS CHURCH!!! how many have to knock before you help them!! Are you kidding me!! GREEDY SHOWY MEN OF GOD “SO THEY SAY” well I do not know a man of God that would hear a fellow human brother or sister needing help and would turn them away they have no homes food water clothes and have many lost lives or missing and no transportation or money!!! Joel should be out there handing out rain jackets and umbrellas and clothes and food and water for Gods sake!! BOYCOTT JOEL OSTEEN he is a greedy bastard and I sure hope when and if you go to heaven I PRAY GOD LOCKS HIS DOORS AND MAKES YOU KEEP KNOCKING!!

  16. Joel, you may claim you are the deliverer of the message I have left for my people, but in fact you are not mine. You know that I will never forsake my children. My love for you and my children is all you need and yet you still doubt my existence. I wonder, if i produce the beginnibg of end, would you then ask my son Jesus into your heart?

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