With biggest ‘Sunday Service’ audience yet, Kanye West to appear at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church

Kanye West performs onstage during his "Jesus Is King" album and film experience at The Forum on October 23, 2019, in Inglewood, California. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA

In what is expected to be his biggest “Sunday Service” audience yet, rapper Kanye West will be joining megachurch pastor Joel Osteen at his Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday for a conversation that promises to be epic.

Sources with knowledge of the planned appearance told TMZ that West is expected to chat with Osteen for about 20 to 30 minutes during the church’s 11 a.m. service.

“Our sources say Joel wants his congregation — which stands 45,000 strong — and his TV audience — which stands at 10 million in the U.S. alone — to hear how Kanye has overcome significant adversity in his life,” TMZ noted. “As one source put it, ‘Kanye used to be about nothing greater than himself. Now it's all about a higher power.’”

The outlet further noted that both West and Osteen have been talking quite often recently, particularly since West has continued to profess his devotion to God.

Lakewood Church told KHOU 11 that they will release more details regarding West’s appearance later this week.

West started his popular Sunday Service events, which generally include prayer and live music, in January 2019. At the time, his wife, Kim Kardashian West, said her family was on a path to spiritual enlightenment.

The journey has since led to West's recently released first faith-based album, Jesus Is King which has gone on to make history on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs and Hot Gospel Songs charts. The set opened at No. 1 on both the Top Christian Albums and Top Gospel Albums tallies (dated Nov. 9) with 264,000 equivalent album units earned in its first week (ending Oct. 31), according to Nielsen Music.

In a recent interview with radio DJ Zane Lowe, West explained how his faith journey inspired his new album.

"Now that I am in service to Christ, my job is to spread the Gospel. To let people know what Jesus has done for me," West said. "And in that, I'm no longer a slave. I'm a son of God now. I'm free through Christ,” he said.

Naima Cochrane, a music and culture writer and former music executive, told WBUR that, in her opinion, West’s “rebirth” is superficial and he is simply following in the footsteps of notable black figures who turn to the church when they are seeking redemption for wrongdoings.

West previously angered some members of the black community by making comments such as slavery was a “choice” but he later apologized.

“In the black community, when we have notable figures who have done something to offend or have done something that finds them in a disgraceful position in the mainstream, usually part of their redemption story is to reach back out to the black community through the grace of the church,” she said, “because the black church is known to be unfailingly forgiving, especially to our black men.”

Cochrane also argued that West isn’t singing faith-based music for the black community but he is “co-opting the black church experience for nonblack consumption.”

“He is doing this for his mainstream fans,” she said. “He's not doing this for us, because he's actually doubling down on the things that pissed us off even while he's packaging this all up in a black church presentation.”

She further argued that “some preachers and pastors have cosigned under the argument that anything that brings the message of God into a space where people don't normally hear it is a good thing. But I'm of the mind that the messenger matters.”

In an op-ed published by The Christian Post last week, Christian apologist Jim Denison said: "Our first biblical responsibility to Kanye West and other celebrities who come to Christ is to pray for them. Paul wrote: 'I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions' (1 Timothy 2:1–2). We are required to pray for each other and for those in positions of cultural influence. 

"Our second biblical responsibility to celebrity converts is to serve them by 'speaking the truth in love' (Ephesians 4:15)." he added. 

"Pastor Hans Fiene notes that 'Christians shouldn’t be afraid of getting burned by Kanye West because our faith isn’t rooted in the fidelity of Christians but the faithfulness of Christ.' As a result, he counsels us, 'Don’t be like the prodigal son’s brother.'

Denison said Fiene explains this by noting: “God has not called you to be Kanye West’s faith auditor. He’s called you to be Kanye West’s brother. So instead of trying to keep him outside the feast of salvation until he’s proven himself worthy, rejoice to enter with him into the feast where all formerly unworthy sinners are invited to eat and drink the worthiness of Jesus Christ.” 

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