While some pastors refuse to tell worshippers to stay home amid the pandemic -- Joel Osteen is sticking to digital preaching, and getting astounding results.
Sources close to Lakewood Church tell TMZ ... Joel's total viewership this past weekend was a whopping 11.73 million people across multiple platforms like his own website, Facebook and YouTube. And yes, that's a new record for Lakewood.
The staggering numbers cover 3 webcasts across Saturday and Sunday. Osteen's service clearly benefitted from Mariah Carey and Tyler Perry's guest appearances. Of course, it was Easter ... so that alone brings a boost.
As we reported ... Kanye West and his choir weren't able to join the festivities because Ye felt the acoustic's of his Sunday Service Choir wouldn't be effective with them as spread out as they needed to be.
Joel's Easter stats actually toppled his previous record set by Ye and co. last year, when they appeared in-person at Lakewood -- drawing just over 4 million total viewers that day.
As we reported, churches in Florida, Louisiana and Kentucky ... to name just a few ... have refused to shut down, putting thousands at risk.
Joel, and other preachers, have gone digital for several weeks now and it doesn't seem to have hurt attendance. More importantly ... these virtual congregations aren't risking spreading the virus, while still keeping the faith.