HOUSTON, Texas — Lakewood Church says that a report circulating online that claims that megachurch leader Joel Osteen is paying rapper-turned-gospel artist Kanye West $300K to perform with his choir this Sunday is false, as West called Osteen to advise that he would be in town and initiated the visit himself.
“There’s no money whatsoever changing hands,” Donald Iloff, Jr., spokesperson for Lakewood and brother to Victoria Osteen, told Christian News Network. “We’re not paying him anything to be here.”
A report from Hip Hop Overload had claimed that “Kanye and his singing choir will be paid $300,000 by Joel Osteen to perform this Sunday at his service which comes on national tv.”
“Kanye West is no fool. He knew this Christian/Jesus act would bring in the real big bucks!” it asserted.
Iloff says that the rumor is untrue and that while he is not certain whether an offering will be received, Lakewood would prefer not to do so. The only expense will be lunch for West and his choir as an act of hospitality.
Iloff explained that he was standing next to Osteen, who was visiting New York at the time, when West’s call came through.
“They had been talking for a while, and … [they] had already talked about, ‘We’d love to do this,'” Iloff explained. “And then, boom, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in town.’ It was a very informal thing.”
West will attend the 11 a.m. service, where he will speak with Osteen on stage about his “journey and how he got to this place, and what his life was like then and what it’s like now.” He will then perform during the 7 p.m. young adult service with his choir.
The evening event will be ticketed as per a request from the Houston Police Department — most likely due to mayhem outside the Astroworld Festival where West made an appearance during a Travis Scott set, but the concert is free.
Iloff stated that the young adult service usually attracts an estimated 1,000 attendees, but should pack out this time at the maximum capacity of 16,000.
As previously reported, Iloff told the Houston Chronicle this week that “Kanye and Joel are friends. He’s been wanting to come out for some time and it just worked out for this weekend.” He likewise affirmed to Christian News that West has been conversing with Osteen and that West has shared some deep personal issues with the motivational speaker.
Osteen has been a controversial figure among evangelicals as his positive thinking, self-help messages are devoid of preaching on sin, repentance and eternal judgment. His books have included “Your Best Life Now,” “Become a Better You,” “You Can, You Will, ” “It’s Your Time” and “The Power of I Am.”
From “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” to “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” West has been making the rounds after publicly declaring that he has been born again and releasing an album entitled “Jesus Is King.”
Previously known for profane rap hits such as “Homecoming,” “All Falls Down,” “Stronger,” “Jesus Walks” and the blasphemous “I Am a God,” his new record includes the gospel tunes “Follow God,” “God Is,” “Use This Gospel” and “Jesus is Lord.”
West also recently started a weekly “Sunday Service” gathering, which has featured various speakers from Hillsong New York’s hipster pastor Carl Lentz to Los Angeles-area preacher Adam Tyson, a graduate of John McArthur’s Master’s Seminary.
“Let’s not be concerned with the opinions of men at all, only the opinion of God,” West declared at one event. “I know we say, ‘This is the culture; that is the culture.’ To be radically in service to Christ is the only culture that I want to know about.”
“The devil had me chasing a gold statue. Had me chasing cars, had me chasing numbers. … [But] the power of God cannot be calculated by a number, by a first week sale, by a bank account, by how many cars you drive, by how big your house is, by how many acres you got.”