Joel Osteen talks hope, wealth and prayer ahead of Denver service
Joel Osteen is the pastor of America’s largest church, the 52,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston. He’s an internationally-recognized televangelist with more than 10 million weekly viewers in the United States and 20 million more across nearly 100 countries. His eight New York Times bestsellers and charismatic sermons emphasize hope, positivity and a compassionate God.
Osteen is also a recognized rainmaker. In 2005, Lakewood Church — which brings in around $90 million each year — moved into the Compaq Center, the former arena of the Houston Rockets, for an estimated bill of $75 million.
We talked to Osteen ahead of his visit to the Pepsi Center in Denver on July 14 for a “Night of Hope,” a touring sermon series
that takes Osteen’s ministering to stadiums, amphitheatres, and arenas across the country. because I’m optimistic. The places I go, I see arenas filled with people. We’ll come to Denver and see some 15,000 people there for a night of faith and inspiration. So I see the studies that faith is on the decline and things, but I think some of it is the way it’s worded. I think some people are turned off by “religion” — I say that respectfully — the part that makes people feel guilty, and condemned, and the rules and all.
But I think a lot of people today more than ever have a connection to God. So in one sense it’s going down, but in another sense I never would have dreamed I’d have grown up in a church where we started with 90 people when I was a little boy. Now, tens of thousands come out. It’s amazing to me every time I pull up to the Compaq Center where we have church where the Rockets played basketball. I think faith is at an all-time high in one sense. In another sense, there are different ways to connect with technology, and maybe church attendance in some areas isn’t what it used to be, but there’s different ways to connect these days. that are in those categories, but I believe the message we promote is to improve mankind, help you to live a better life. And not everyone is a believer in Christ or in God yet, but things can change. That doesn’t rule out our message on, how do I forgive, how do I reach my dreams, how do I have a good attitude in difficult times. I think that applies to everyone. but I believe that when you turn to your faith, when you turn to God in those difficult times, he will help you to make it through. I talk a lot about overcoming difficulties. And there are, to me, things we don’t understand. But when you choose to not get bitter, not blame God, not give up on life, but have an attitude of faith, saying “God, I don’t understand this, but I have faith that I’m in the palm of your hand and that you’ll help me make it through,” I believe that’s what true faith is all about. Not in the good times, but trusting in the difficult times. first half hour to read my Bible, to pray, to make sure I’m on the right path. I think it’s an individual journey. … I don’t really dwell on doubts, even in difficult times or negative situations. That’s when I turn to my faith, not away. We all have things we don’t understand. Bad things happen to good people all the time. But we just have to say, “God, I’m in this for the long haul, and I believe you’re in control.” So it’s more of a sense of trust, a sense of peace and faith. books, nothing in particular. I don’t have to give you particulars on that, because I read all through the Scripture. my church or ministry. I’ve been blessed outside of that. But no doubt what you’re saying is true. But I think you have to overcome it by being who you are, by living a life of integrity and helping other people. Our message is that we’re blessed to be a blessing to others. All of us here in America are blessed compared to parts of the world. I try to just focus on helping other people. In the Scripture, Christianity was started with Abraham. Abraham was one of the wealthiest men of his day. It’s not about wealth. I think he was talking about how if your focus is on riches — just, how can I be wealthy and focus on myself all the time — that’s not what Micah and others in the Bible were talking about. If your dream is to rise higher, to do great things, to have money to help mankind, to be a blessing to others, I don’t think God has any problem with that. We wouldn’t have the Compaq Center today if God hadn’t blessed people the way they could give. It cost $100 million to renovate that facility. (Those are) people that believe that God can do something with a life—that I can rise higher and accomplish things and excel. Not to focus on me, but to be a blessing to others.
Joel Osteen preaches in San Francisco in 2015. He’ll be in Denver for his annual Night of Hope sermon July 14.