Previously, John Osteen had been a Southern Baptist minister; however, after experiencing a self-described Baptism in the Holy Spirit, he withdrew from his Baptist fellowship and began Lakewood Church. From the beginning, Lakewood was non-denominational and racially inclusive. In 1979, attendance was over five thousand, and the church was becoming prominent among Pentecostals and Charismatic’s. John and Dodie created and hosted Lakewood’s weekly television program, which could be seen in 100 countries worldwide. Upon John Osteen’s death in 1999, his youngest son, Joel, became pastor. In late 2003, the church signed a long-term lease with the city of Houston to acquire the Compaq Center, a 29-year-old former sports arena.
On July 16, 2005, Lakewood Church relocated from its old building in Northeast Houston into its new home, a 16,800-seat facility southwest of Downtown Houston along U.S. Highway 59, having twice the capacity of its former sanctuary. On March 31, 2010 the Houston City Council voted 13-2 to sell the property to Lakewood for $7.5 million. Lakewood Church believes that the entire Bible is inspired by God, and the church bases its doctrine in this belief. The church’s weekly services are broadcast on Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar Television Network, as well as local channels in most major US markets. Lakewood also appears on secular networks, such as Fox Network, ABC Family, and USA Network.