pastor joel osteen preaching
Joel Osteen is one of the most famous and wealthy pastors in America.

You’ve heard of rats or birds living in the walls of houses, or maybe even homeowners discovering secret rooms and passages hidden behind the walls. But in the walls of celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, there are apparently bags and bags of cash.

Last month, a plumber doing renovations at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas stumbled upon an undisclosed amount of money when he removed some tile behind a toilet in order to do his plumbing work.

Then some 3,000 envelopes and bags of cash fell out of the wall.

Now the police, church administration, and Osteen himself are left trying to unravel a very rich mystery.

Flush With Cash

“There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile,” the plumber, Justin, said. “We went to go remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall, and I was like, ‘Oh wow!’”

The plumber immediately contacted the church’s maintenance supervisor, who reported it to the police. The plumber had to stay at the church an additional seven hours.

Some have speculated the cash could be related to an unsolved robbery of some $600,000 reported by Lakewood in 2014. However, there is no evidence of a connection. 

At the time, a police investigation turned up nothing. Crime Stoppers of Houston offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. No one came forward with information.

Lakewood worked with their insurance company to recoup their losses, and for a while it seemed like the money would never turn up.

Then some came tumbling out of the walls, leaving everyone scratching their heads. 

The plumber says that since that day, the church is giving him the cold shoulder– he hasn’t heard a peep from Osteen or Lakewood regarding a potential reward… or even a ‘thank you’. 

Local reporters contacted them, and they say the statute of limitations on the reward money has expired.

Is God Telling Us Something?

It’s difficult to think of a more on-the-nose symbol of the exorbitant wealth of some megachurches than stacks of cash literally tumbling out of walls… and yet, here we are.

Osteen is a proponent of prosperity gospel, a controversial theology that says that material gain is God's blessing for faithful Christians. He has a reported net worth of $50 million dollars, lives in a $10 million dollar mansion, and his church collects $40 million in donations each year. 

The church is also dealing with another cash-related scandal – this one of its own making.

In October, it was reported that they accepted $4.4 million dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although they’ve been repaying the loan all year, many were outraged that an organization as massive as Lakewood Church would take a loan meant for struggling small businesses. After all, doesn't exactly seem like they're hurting for money.

“Like many organizations temporarily shuttered by the pandemic, this loan provided Lakewood Church short-term financial assistance in 2020 ensuring that its approximately 350 employees and their families would continue to receive a paycheck and full health care benefits,” the church said in a statement.

What do you think? How did the money end up in the walls? If you can't renovate a church bathroom without money pouring out, is it a sign that perhaps you've collected too much from the flock?

75 comments

  1. Gerardo Salazar's Avatar Gerardo Salazar

    Hardly a day passes in which we don’t read about one of these TV preachers huge fortunes; private planes, big houses/ranches and a lavish lifestyle while their followers keep on throwing loads of hard-earned money on their laps without ever raising the question of why do they need so much money for. Actually their offer is to Buy a Miracle through collective prayer; everybody close their eyes and raise their collective hands to Heaven while in the back you can hear the happy sound of coins dropping into the preacher’s pockets and those of their wives, normally exuberant ladies with huge wigs that take you back to those glorious days in Las Vegas when curves were fashionable and people were happy throwing their money away in search of other miracles. As Michael Moore has wisely said, “There's a gullible side to the American people. They can be easily misled. Religion is the best device used to mislead them.” And some rascals have become millionaires by exploiting this fact.

    Pax vobiscum.

    1. Holly Campuzano's Avatar Holly Campuzano

      MT 19:23-24 "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" The riches of the mega churches are obscene. There is nothing worse than listening to a preacher's wife talk about how entitled and blessed she is to go shopping, while the flock tithing their last few dollars cannot even afford to go out to lunch after church with the rest of the crowd and are often going to work their second or third job for the week.

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I heard Him Baker found Tammy Far when she was dancing burlesque in Las Vegas. They were quite a pair; very well suited for eachother, and glad to be related to Uncle Henry.

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        In my above post that no good, worthless spell checker changed Jim to Him and Fae to Far. Please correct this for me. Thankyou.

        1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

          I always proof read because sometimes, not often, but sometimes I am smarter than my spell checker.

    3. Holly Campuzano's Avatar Holly Campuzano

      Comment removed by user.

    4. Holly Campuzano's Avatar Holly Campuzano

      Comment removed by user.

  1. Allen Alexander's Avatar Allen Alexander

    Any "minister" who lives in a "50 million dollar mansion" isn't doing enough for the community. How much is enough?

    1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      With a net worth estimated at well over $100 million, for a number of years now, this is just chump change like water out of a slightly drippy faucet compared to a lake.

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        Fire lake is a good song by Bob Dylan, but I don't think I want to go there. It's full of too many Osteens.

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      If I had such a mansion Allan, I would do just as much ministering online, and never leave home. However, I'd also frequently invite many people from many communities over for wild, extravagant parties, with free food, drinks, possibly drugs, and entertainment for all invited guests. Just as soon as I start finding large amounts of money in my walls.

      1. Holly Campuzano's Avatar Holly Campuzano

        Comment removed by user.

      2. Holly Campuzano's Avatar Holly Campuzano

        Very funny, sounds like the fall of the roman empire.

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    Allen is correct; the sooner the USA passes laws, classifying the religious brainwashing of little kiddies— a serious type of child abuse, the sooner we’ll be able to tax all churches, at the same rate as any other corporations, and once little kiddies are no longer being routinely religiously brainwashed, the sooner “$50 million dollar mansions for clergy-persons will become relics from a bygone era.

    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      wont ever happen, the IRS and the US Supreme Court and the US Constitution all ban you trying to tax churches, I mean even the 1st Amendment clearly states that you cant interfere nor make a law violating a religion. So I guess yo0ur mythical separation of church and state only works when YOU decide it does?

      1. Minister Jeannine of the Church of the Free Spirit's Avatar Minister Jeannine of the Church of the Free Spirit

        What separation of church and state! I think 2016 to now if not many times before that we have been shown that is not the case. A certain religion desires to make this a one religion nation and has hijacked our constitution, our courts and the Congress among other areas of government! And they are doing all they can to make their dream of an extremist state of "the Kingdom" and their biblical interpretations the law of the "free" land of liberty. White supremacy is not a new concept nor is the Christian Identity movement.

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Those silly Democrats think everyone and everything should be controlled by government.

      1. Minister Jeannine of the Church of the Free Spirit's Avatar Minister Jeannine of the Church of the Free Spirit

        Better to have a constitutional government the controlling entity than an extremist religious zealots party.

  1. David Arthur Lewis's Avatar David Arthur Lewis

    "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." -Jesus Christ as quoted by Matthew chapter 19 verse 24.

    Joel Osteen is a false prophet.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    Nice work for a plumber.Sounds like the pastor is illegally keeping the donations and is hiding it from the IRS No one working for a church should be worth 50.000.000 bucks and living in a mansion.worth 10.000.000 dollars.This guy celebrity or not needs investigating pretty fast.

  1. Debra L. Derrick's Avatar Debra L. Derrick

    These churches need to be paying taxes. plain and simple.

    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      1st Amendment says they dont have to, plain pure and simple.

      1. David Weller's Avatar David Weller

        Incorrect. The fist amendment makes no mention of taxation. “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

          sorry but correct....or are you ignoring the demand from the ones who claim there is a separation of church and state in the 1st Amendment. Or the simple fact that it also states that the government CANNOT make a law that infringes upon a religion? Now since all religions require charity, trying to tax them would in effect restrict their teachings and would in fact violate the 1st Amendment. Even Congress and the US Treasury state this.

    2. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

      Most churches struggle to pay bills and most Pastors are middle class with 2 jobs. Don't judge all churches by the standards of these mega palaces. My church does pay taxes for employees and property.

    3. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

      Most churches struggle to pay bills and most Pastors are middle class with 2 jobs. Don't judge all churches by the standards of these mega palaces. My church does pay taxes for employees and property.

  1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

    CHL, what about your and other Trumpophiles or "former Trumpophiles" or conservatives' gullibility and those who rely on your remaining gullible and your politics providing that vehicle because you are afraid of forsaking your god the Donald and other conservative gods and believe that you will be sent to your political hell if you don't comply and think for yourselves? There isn't only a hell in conventional religion, since you have your version of it, too! It's also really very sad how right wing indoctrination has fooled so many! "First, remove the beam from your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" and "Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone". Clean up your own house and stop being gullible yourself before you comment and advise anyone else on their house and accuse all Christians of "being gullible", since people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!! Only those who know nothing about Hell or Heaven and haven't been in either can "think" that "Hell is a really fun place" or "Heaven totally sucks", but actually going to them will change their minds instantly, in both cases!!

    1. Tony Steven Minish's Avatar Tony Steven Minish

      Funny you start out insulting people then go on to a holier then thow rant.

      1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

        It's telling the truth about them, not insulting them, throughout and, evidently, you "think" that any mention of God at all is a "holier than thou rant".

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I wish I was a rich minister, with money pouring out of my walls. There must be a good spell to cast for that. I just haven't thought of the right one yet. But when I do you poor, jealous fools can criticize me too. The more I have to laugh about the better I feel. Y'all can even send me all your money, to help my ministry grow. And for that I'll bestow you with a special blessing.

    1. Gary Richard Noce's Avatar Gary Richard Noce

      You sir, are disgusting and you don't know our Lord at all !!!

  1. Julie Armstrong's Avatar Julie Armstrong

    I honestly loved listening to Joel. I would never send money, I believe it's a scam, yet that doesn't mean I don't like his positive messages. Some people say he's just a motivational speaker....so? If that's what it takes to attract people to GOD so be it. As long as we believe it doesn't matter how we get there, correct?

  1. Michael Barton's Avatar Michael Barton

    It would be dumb for them to not take the loan. It was approved, so they got it. That should be it. The gov. shut everyone down. Why should they suffer when there are options to help them?

    The bags of cash were stolen, the Church shouldn't get the blame, and the case is ongoing.

    Is this a pro-Church website or an anti-Church website?

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      It’s a place of critical thought, and logical reasoning, Michael. It can help to unravel the many indoctrinated illogical beliefs many have have grown accustomed to. Happy Holidays. 🎅

      🦁❤️

    2. Stephen D. Atchley's Avatar Stephen D. Atchley

      Perusing the comments section will give you a clear answer to your question.

  1. Pedro Pagan Jr's Avatar Pedro Pagan Jr

    As Believers our goal is to achieve Righteousness not Prosperity. 1 Peter 3:12 - "For the eyes of the Lord are on the RIGHTEOUS and his ears are attentive to THEIR prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Psalm 34:15-16, John 9:31, 1 Peter 4 1. How to become RIGHTEOUS? 2 Timothy 3:16 New International Version All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING and TRAINING in RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    Obedient to the scripture equals Righteousness.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      You final statement, “Obedient to the scripture equals righteousness”, is a very broad statement. I’m curious as to what part of the stories, that you call scripture, that you think mankind should be obedient to, and what part mankind shouldn’t? Am I correct in thinking you don’t agree with stoning people to death, or slavery, as condoned by the God of the Old Testament?

      🦁❤️

      1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

        CHL, you should try to be more careful because people here might actually start believing that you are really an "atheist" and you don't want to overplay your pretense to that extent, just to save face. Your saying that "God condoned stoning people to death or people's being slaves" will only make you appear gullible and more foolish to people here and not help your pretense of "atheism" and so you should try to avoid such ridiculous statements in the future. Very soon you won't have to bother with that pretense any longer and will be brave and strong enough to confess your Christian faith openly here. We will get you there soon!!

  1. Paul Donaldson's Avatar Paul Donaldson

    The problem lies with folks that fall for anything under the sun that offers redemption to the masses, no matter how ridiculous. Phony preaches are in the same league as phony politicians.

  1. Conrad Hassell's Avatar Conrad Hassell

    First of all the gospel prosperity it's not even biblical Jesus said the poor will always be amongst you wouldn't this tell you something? Well the people who are rich should be helping the less fortunate would you agree? Instead of holding the money for themselves they should be sharing!

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    One has to wonder if this is part of the $450 million dollars that was stolen one Sunday at Joel's church some 5-10 years ago.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    The gullible are mislead by those who rely on them remaining gullible, religion provides that vehicle because they are afraid of forsaking their god, and believe they’ll be sent to hell if they don’t comply. It’s really sad how religious indoctrination has fooled so many.

    🦁❤️

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      You're right Lionheart, and I've heard that He'll is a really fun place to be. It's Christian heaven that totally sucks!

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        It’s strange isn’t it Carl how many, who actually believe in Hell, love talking about it and hope none believers go there when we die. It’s as though they get some form of gratification thinking that’s where we are going to be going, and they are convinced they are going to be going to a place they call heaven with those sadistically salivating types of mouth-drooling thoughts, and happy wringing of hands condemning us.😈

        🦁❤️

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      You're right Lionheart, and I've heard that He'll is a really fun place to be. It's Christian heaven that totally sucks!

    3. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      You're right Lionheart, and I've heard that He'll is a really fun place to be. It's Christian heaven that totally sucks!

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I wish I was one of those plumbers. The money would be in my bank account, and nobody would have heard about it. That sounds like a good reason to become a plumber. All power to you, brother Osteen!

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Y'all sound like a bunch of goddam, bleeding heart, liberal Democrats! And jealous, too!

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I'm sure there are a lot of poor, jealous people who don't think churches deserve all that money, but I'm tickled pink for them, hope they live it up, and truly go for the gusto! I received a thirty piece box of assorted baklava in the mail this morning, from my brother David and his spouse for Christmas, that I'm eating for lunch. I sent them two pints of anchovy stuffed olives and a liter of marinated artichoke hearts. I bet all that will make some ministers jealous, too. I'm glad I can give people reasons for working to get rid of their defects of character.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Ehrman, I'm already at peace, without having to go silently through the noise and haste. If you'd suddenly become silent I might even be more at peace. It's called practicing what you preach. Simply writing the Desiderata isn't good enough. You need to practice it's tenets in your own life. Not giving people unwarranted criticism might be a good place to start.

    1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

      Carl Bernard Elfstrom it might be nice if you posted less. You made your point now stop and let others speak.

  1. CB Cuff's Avatar CB Cuff

    Wondering if the caption should have read " ...one of the most infamous and greedy pastors in America.", instead...??

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Ehrman, your advice is totally worthless, and I'm going to start ignoring you! There are too many other discarnate entities who deserve my time and attention, to waste it on your babblings about that silly poem you wrote, that you mistakenly think is a cure-all.

  1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

    CHL, why do you and others here approve of and accept the Jefferson Bible with all the miracles taken out of it, but not a Bible with all the human hatefulness, bigotry, and rottenness taken out of it, and only the love of God left in it? That is very inconsistent and arbitrary on all your parts.

  1. Susan Carey-Bullard's Avatar Susan Carey-Bullard

    Joel Osteen should be ashamed of himself...it will be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than the rich person to get into heaven. Guess you will be headed to hell Joel.

  1. John Duane Hess's Avatar John Duane Hess

    Trust is everything. It doesn't matter to me what a person believes. Morals and Ethics does. Enough said!

  1. Rebecca Lynn Bieniek's Avatar Rebecca Lynn Bieniek

    Too many judgements on here. Sad. I pray that the investigation will clear up all questions.

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    Why aren't people asking what happed to the other $550,000? If it's not in the walls, where is it? Joel's pockets?

    You do realize he pulls in about $600,000 every weekend in donations, right?

  1. Pedro Pagan Jr's Avatar Pedro Pagan Jr

    As Believers our goal is to achieve Righteousness not Prosperity. 1 Peter 3:12 - "For the eyes of the Lord are on the RIGHTEOUS and his ears are attentive to THEIR prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Psalm 34:15-16, John 9:31, 1 Peter 4 1. How to become RIGHTEOUS? 2 Timothy 3:16 New International Version All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING and TRAINING in RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    Obedient to the scripture equals Righteousness.

  1. Fred Wilson's Avatar Fred Wilson

    Maybe he should realliy take the Sermon on the Mount to heart ! ! !

  1. Fred Wilson's Avatar Fred Wilson

    Maybe he shoud really take the Sermon on the Mount to heart..... What do you think?

  1. Gary Richard Noce's Avatar Gary Richard Noce

    I find this whole thing disgusting!!! It was not a gift from God. I don't believe God exists in this church at all. Our Lord's words are spoken, but they are misused. I only could stand watching this guy once. It is so fake to me and avarice. Our Lord Does NOT work this way and is never sooo blatant and crude. How much money does this guy need anyway ???

    1. Holly Campuzano's Avatar Holly Campuzano

      Joel Osteen attended Humble High school in Humble Texas, not a Humble guy whatsoever. The jets that fuel his lifestyle is unfathomable. What I do know, is that God cannot cash out of state checks in Heaven. These mega churches have end of the year Special Offerings where they tithe sometimes 10s of millions of $s to one another's Mega Churches rather than paying off the mortgages of their faithful tithers and church member's houses in order that everyone is debt free. Imagine everyone in your state buying a lottery ticket pitching in hoping some random citizen in your community wins but the winner is always JOEL every single Sunday!

  1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

    YEAH ! LIKE VOTING for DONALD J. tRUMP, FOR EXAMPLE ! and STILL SUPPORTING THE G O Pig FARM of POLITICAL PIGGING ! HAPPY HOLIDAYs to ALL and ESPECIALLY the PHILOSIFERS @ U L C CHEERS YA'LL !

  1. P. Keith Benefiel's Avatar P. Keith Benefiel

    Anyone who calls themself a man of God and owns two suits of clothes is a fraud as long as there is someone with no clothes. -Lenny Bruce 1963 (not an exact quote, but from "How To Talk Dirty and Influence People")

  1. Phil Harold Barberg's Avatar Phil Harold Barberg

    Well you never know when the Shit Hits the Fan in the Pay The Lord business! "Oh Crap"! I'll be out in a minute, get my jet ready..

  1. Rev Ned's Avatar Rev Ned

    J O would say “PTL! PTL!” Pass The Loot!

  1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

    Your taking it for granted that the mindless universe comes up with its own laws and interconnection of them for its operation and that even answered prayers "weren't answered by anyone, since there is nobody to answer them" isn't critical thought, logical reasoning or even common sense. So, why don't you unravel those indoctrinated illogical beliefs of your atheist faith in this blog site?

  1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

    God didn't condone stoning people to death or slavery, but those things were merely attributed to Him, in order to "justify" and "sanctify" the people who put those words in His mouth and make people accept their views. Are you guilty of everything that anyone accuses you of doing or saying, to scapegoat you? Don't do to God what you wouldn't want done to you. I have told you this already!

  1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

    Hucksters one and all! They are proof that there is no limit to human gullibility.

  1. Clarence William Knipp's Avatar Clarence William Knipp

    We are all human beings,it was said a penny for your thoughts.

  1. Clarence William Knipp's Avatar Clarence William Knipp

    I think we all have a little bit of Joel in us ,don't you think?

  1. Jere Scott Rehmert's Avatar Jere Scott Rehmert

    Joel Osteen is no pastor, prophet or teacher. He’s in it for the money….,period. He might have good intentions, but they are very wrong.

  1. Alysia Ecker's Avatar Alysia Ecker

    He is a False Profit aka motivational speaker and as close to an anti christ as there is. It is TOTALLY ABOUT THE MONEY! He is so Disgusting for taking money even from the most trusting believers in our God! And the Poorest!! I’d Hate to be him when he has to stand before the Lord and explain. His punishment won’t be pretty or will he be w God. There’s a much hotter ugly place for THIEVES like HIM!

  1. Samuel Salazar's Avatar Samuel Salazar

    With what is going on in the world, churches should be doing more for the communities, please spread the Word, and let everyone know there is still love for them. The humble will inherit the earth.

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