Kanye West is truly committing to the bit for his new album Jesus Is King. Last month, it was heavily rumored that he’d be swinging by Houston’s Lakewood Megachurch for a service with viral celebrity pastor Joel Osteen. Now, it’s all but confirmed, according to TMZ. If you didn’t hear it from me, you’ll probably see your great aunt posting about it on Facebook at some point over the next week.
West will reportedly sit down with Osteen for a conversation during Lakewood’s daytime service, and then he’ll bring his choir out for the nighttime service. There’s no word as to when he’ll be pulling up to the megachurch, but whenever it happens, he’s bound to be welcomed more graciously than the crowd that lined up outside of Lakewood during Hurricane Harvey.
Lakewood spokesperson Donald Iloff Jr. told the Chronicle that the conversation will revolve around West’s journey to faith.
The rapper will reportedly make another appearance at the evangelical church’s 7 p.m. young adult service, this time with his Sunday Service choir.
West was already in town to perform at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival.
The rapper’s visit has not yet been announced on Lakewood Church’s website. As of Tuesday afternoon, the site still advertises that the evening service will feature performances by the Christian musician Tauren Wells.
West’s new album, “Jesus Is King,” is the rapper’s first to exclusively focus on religious themes. The album debuted on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart at No. 1.
West’s visit to Lakewood comes months after he started holding pop-up religious events across the country, sometimes at churches and accompanied by pastors. His wife, the reality star Kim Kardashian, has described these “Sunday Services” as a “musical ministry” where “they talk about Jesus and God.”
Osteen was reportedly the one who invited West to bring his Sunday Service performance to Lakewood, according to CBS affiliate KHOU 11. The pair apparently struck up a friendship through phone conversations about faith.
“Kanye and Joel are friends,” Iloff told the Chronicle. “He’s been wanting to come out for some time and it just worked out for this weekend.”
Osteen’s church draws about 45,000 members every weekend, filling out a 600,000-square-foot stadium that was formerly home to the Houston Rockets. Millions more watch Osteen’s sermons through weekly television broadcasts. The pastor regularly packs stadiums around the country during his preaching tours.
Both West and Osteen have been criticized by some Christians ― West for his support of President Donald Trump and his suggestion that slavery was a choice, and Osteen for appearing to promote the prosperity gospel, which suggests that God guarantees wealth and health to those who are faithful in just the right way. Osteen preaches that his own wealth ― which he attributes to book sales ― is a blessing from God.
While West’s foray into the Christian music scene has been a cause for celebration in some Christian circles, others have questioned why this support is emerging now ― especially since the rapper has been outspoken about his faith in the past.
Black Christian writer Andre Henry suggested in a piece for Religion News Service that white evangelicals’ newfound enthusiasm for West stems from the rapper’s embrace of conservative causes.
“Only after Kanye put on the infamous MAGA hat did he become so precious to white conservatives,” Henry wrote.