Here's an article from CBSNews.com about the positivity of Joel Osteen. I've always appreciatd his approach towards getting non-believers to become interested in Christianity.
If you do a search on Joel Osteen you'll find a lot of haters. So much judging, so much hating, so much criticizing. Are you one of them? Do you feel godly love in your heart?
Here's a post that tries to look at the bigger picture.
I applaud Carman Licciardello for being brave enough to take a stand even though it puts him in the minority.
It's one thing to have strong opinions and beliefs. It's quite another to cross the line to become a hater in voicing your point of view.
At the end of the day you have to ask yourself: "Is my behavior and the way I express myself a good example of being a Christian and spreading God's love?"
[This excerpt is from www.christiantoday.com. You can find the full article here: Night of Hope In London]
Over 5,000 gathered at London's Wembley Arena last night to hear an inspirational message by Joel and Victoria Osteen of Lakewood Church, the largest church in the US.
"Don't magnify your problems, magnify God," Joel Osteen told the crowd.
He went on to share his life story, starting from when he was a college student in Oklahoma, to the moment he met his wife Victoria at a jewellery shop in Houston, to when he gave his first "nervous" sermon at Lakewood Church.
Joel also gave a message about living a positive life in God's favour. "You need to see yourself the way you want to be," he encouraged the crowd.
"It's not enough to see it - you need to learn to say it." He emphasised that we are children of the Most High God, and because of this, we must live favour-minded.
Victoria Osteen later took to the stage, urging the crowd to "encourage one another, starting with your mouth."
Joel and Victoria Osteen weren't the only ones who graced the stage. Joel's mother, Dodie Osteen, also came on to testify how God saved her from severe liver cancer in 1981, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
The Osteens' two children, Jonathan and Alexandra, also shared a Bible verse and sang on stage.
The Osteens kicked off their UK tour Tuesday at the Odyssey Arena Belfast in Northern Ireland and will speak at the NEC Arena in Birmingham tonight.
"A Night of Hope" featured praise, worship and prayer with electrifying music from Dove Award-winning Cindy Cruse Ratcliff and the Lakewood band and ensemble.
Lakewood Church of Houston, Texas, is the largest and fastest growing church in the US with nearly 40,000 attendees.
Lakewood Church's weekly services are also broadcast on television in the US and around the world in over 100 nations.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Joel Osteen is the most watched minister in the US and reaches 95 per cent of all US television households.
In 2005, Lakewood began holding worship services in its new 16,000-seat facility in Houston. The facility, formerly known as the Compaq Centre and home to the Houston Rockets, was acquired by Lakewood in January of 2004 and took 18 months to renovate at a cost of $95m....
For the rest of the article: Joel Osteen Night of Hope In London
[ From Go.com, a short report on Joel Osteen's interview on Good Morning America. ]
Oct. 20, 2005- Author and televangelist Joel Osteen attributes much of his success to his positive message.
Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, which is attended by more than 40,000 people and the services are watched by millions on television. Osteen's father, a Pentecostal preacher, started
the Lakewood church with a few dozen members in 1959.
Related: 'Your Best Life Now' by Joel Osteen
"I think it has to do with the fact that I am positive and I preach a message of hope and encouragement," Osteen said of his success. "I don't believe in beating people down. We believe in making it simple and
practical," he added.
"I think a lot of it is just God's blessings and favor," he said.
Osteen delivers a similar message in his best-selling book, "Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," and his new book "Daily Readings From Your Best Life Now: 90 Devotions for Living at Your Full Potential," which is coming out next week. His new book is a reworking of his first book into 90 bite-sized pieces for daily reading and inspiration.
"I just challenge you to change your attitude," he said. "It's a choice you make. Thank God you're alive and breathing. There are a lot of people in this world that are a lot worse off than all of us."
"Just believe that God has a great future for us and life is what we choose to make of it so we have to make the most of it," he added.
Osteen has faced criticism for recently commenting on a cable TV program that non-Christians may not go to heaven.
"I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven," he said on CNN. "I don't know! I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God! I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know."
Osteen has since apologized.
"I just don't like to take the approach of just being the judge of who's going to heaven and hell," he said.
"I'm here to present the gospel, which is called good news," he added.
Asked about whether Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' religious faith should be a consideration as the Senate prepares to take up her nomination, Osteen said: "Well, I don't think it should hurt you in any way. To me, having faith gives you character and helps you walk in integrity."
"But I think you have to be qualified on all points," he added.
[ From the ABC News / Good Morning America site.]
Oct. 20, 2005 -Author and televangelist Joel Osteen attributes much of his success to his positive message.
Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, which is attended by more than 40,000 people and the services are watched by millions on television. Osteen's father, a Pentecostal preacher, started the Lakewood church with a few dozen members in 1959.
Click here for the rest of the Joel Osteen article. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1232949
[ From the ABC News/ Good Morning America site. ]
Oct. 20, 2005 - Houston televangelist Joel Osteen writes in his book, "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living At Your Full Potential," that people will become what they believe. Truly believing this is not so simple, so Osteen outlines seven steps: Enlarge Your Vision, Develop a Healthy Self-Image, Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words, Let Go of the Past, Find Strength Through Adversity, Live to Give, and Choose to Be Happy.
Click here for the rest of the Joel Osteen article. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1229551&page=1
[ Listen to a short NPR report by Capella Tucker on Joel Osteen and their new megachurch. ]
All Things Considered, July 18, 2005·
When it moved into a 16,000-seat building, Houston's Lakewood Church became the largest in the United States. The megachurch, which includes waterfalls in one enormous building, reflects a different direction from other churches, which are investing in satellite facilities. Lakewood's leader, Rev. Joel Osteen, says people will feel comfortable coming to a church service in a venue they've already attended for a game or concert. Capella Tucker of Houston Public Radio reports.
[ From the Boston Globe. ]
Critics say he's too easygoing, but televangelist Joel Osteen is winning a devoted following with his positive approach
The Boston Globe
July 10, 2005
As a television evangelist, Joel Osteen is used to skeptics monitoring his integrity. Still, even he was surprised by what happened after a stack of papers blew out of his car in a parking lot one day.
Osteen chased the papers, but the wind kept scattering them until the minister was tempted to just let them lie there as litter. He thought twice and bent to pick up the remaining pieces.
That's when two strangers in a nearby car rolled down their windows.
''Hi, Joel," they said. ''We were watching to see what you were going to
It's been almost two decades since Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker made a laughingstock of television evangelism. Many new preachers have taken to the pulpit since then.
None has become a household name. But Osteen is on his way.
A second-generation minister, Osteen is the pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church, which has the nation's largest congregation, according to the Missouri-based research firm Church Growth Today.
More than 30,000 believers come to hear Osteen every week, with about 7,500 people crowding into each of four weekend services. Those numbers are sure to go up this week, when Lakewood -- a nondenominational
Christian church -- moves into the former Compaq Center, where the NBA's Houston Rockets once played. The new sanctuary will hold a whopping 16,000 people per service.
Osteen, who also has a book on The New York Times bestseller list, ''Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," isn't just big in Houston.
His services air nationally five days a week on seven different television networks and a number of local network affiliates: Discovery Channel, USA, BET, ABC Family, Pax Television, Daystar Network, TBN, and
WFXT-TV in Boston.
On Sundays, he can be seen on BET at 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., Discovery Channel at 8 a.m., USA at 8:30 a.m., and ABC Family at noon, as well as at other times found on www.joelosteen.com.
A 42-year-old college dropout who's been preaching since 1999, Osteen says he's awed by his growing popularity, which -- judging by the audience members at Lakewood -- appears to cross racial lines and age
groups. ''This is all so new to me," he says, a soft Southern twang punctuating his telephone voice. ''I think God has given me a lot of favor to reach people."
Osteen is energetic and youthful-looking on-screen; his broad smile and optimistic messages have earned him the nickname ''the smiling preacher." He believes viewers are connecting to him because his sermons offer hope in a way that is relevant to everyday life. Recent sermon topics include: ''Trusting God When Life Doesn't Make Sense," ''Have the Courage to Be Different," and ''Listen to the Warnings on the Inside."
With so many negatives in life pulling people down, Osteen says, his viewers are looking for encouragement. ''To come on the weekend and get some practical advice from the Bible is a real lift," he says.
Although Nielsen Media Research could not provide viewership numbers for Lakewood, whose shows are considered ''paid programming," the church says it believes an average of about 7 million people watch every week on all of the networks combined.
Now on a national tour to 15 cities to promote his book and ministry, Osteen is selling out venues like New York City's Madison Square Garden. He plans to come to Boston next year, which is good news for people
like Karen Beld, an Osteen fan who owns the pastor's book and one of his cassettes for her car.
''My family watches Joel every Sunday morning before we go to 10 o'clock Mass," says Beld, a 43-year-old homemaker in Braintree. ''He's uplifting and positive. It's not like you're doomed to death. He makes you realize that no matter what you've done, God forgives you. I need that in my life right now."
Two topics Osteen sidesteps are hell and damnation.
''I think people are used to ministers beating them over the head with condemnation," Osteen says. ''The Scripture says that it's the goodness of God that causes people to repent. Jesus didn't condemn."
But Osteen's upbeat approach annoys some critics who prefer a sterner doctrine. ''What he's talking about has nothing to do with Christianity," says Ole Anthony, president of the Trinity Foundation, a Dallas-based religious media watchdog group that investigates fraud among televangelists. ''He's popular because we live in a nation that demands cotton-candy theology. His service is just a pep rally. It's all about you.
''What about preaching the demands of God? What about helping the poor in society? Houston has thousands of homeless people. What is he doing for them?"
Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College and the author of ''The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith," says Osteen is in a bind. ''If he weren't as upbeat, he wouldn't be as popular," Wolfe says. ''The cost of being positive is you don't have as much to offer in purely religious terms. That's a difficult dilemma. I can't say which is better. But, clearly, if he preaches a stricter message, he will get a smaller audience."
In the November/December 2004 issue of The Door Magazine, a Christian satire magazine published by Trinity, a spoof appeared of Osteen's top 12 sermon titles. They included: ''Everybody Shout Happy-Lujah!" and ''I Once Was Lost But Now I Smile."
Despite the criticisms, however, Anthony concedes that after years of investigating Lakewood, ''I have never found any fraud with Joel."
Lakewood, which has an annual budget of $50 million and a full-time staff of 200, says it helps the community by sending volunteers to prisons and hospitals and by supporting agencies with donations that
feed and clothe the needy.
Unlike other television ministries, Lakewood has never asked for on-air donations. The move to the Compaq Center and the television ministry are being paid for by the church and its members. ''We have a policy that
we don't grow beyond what we can pay for," says Osteen. ''We're not out to get your money or get you to join our church. We have a big enough church."
Osteen, who was paid $200,000 last year, has voluntarily given up a salary this year because of undisclosed profits from his book, which has sold about 3 million copies so far.
The pastor's lack of salesmanship boosts Lakewood's credibility, some observers say.
''Osteen has an incredible air of authenticity. You just believe the guy," says Quentin Schultze, author of ''Televangelism in America: The Business of Popular Religion." ''He represents a renewal of TV evangelism as a more positive enterprise."
Still, warns Schultze, a professor of communication at Calvin College, ''it's critically important that he not ask for money. I still run across a lot of people who want nothing to do with organized religion because of Jim and Tammy Bakker."
Osteen, who has two children, ages 6 and 10, never wanted to be a preacher.
Described by his brother Paul as a ''painfully shy" boy who skipped his prom and preferred baseball over parties, Joel dropped out of Oral Roberts University in 1982 because he wanted to manage Lakewood's television production department.
His father, John Osteen, who started Lakewood in 1959 with 90 members, was appearing nationally on two networks. The church then had about 15,000 members.
''Lakewood billboards and bumper stickers were all over the city. The church had a real presence even before Joel took over," says William Martin, a professor of sociology and religion at Rice University and author of ''A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story."
One day in 1999, a sickly John Osteen called Joel's home, Joel recalls, and asked him to preach the coming weekend, which Joel had never done. ''I said no," Joel Osteen said. ''Then something down inside said that I
needed to do it."
Onstage that Sunday, Joel gripped the podium through his sermon, recalls Donald Iloff, his brother-in-law. ''He was very nervous."
The next week, John Osteen died, and suddenly Joel was in charge.
Osteen has five siblings. His oldest brother, Paul -- a surgeon who gave up his practice to help Osteen -- manages the church's ministries, attending funerals and weddings so the Lakewood pastor can concentrate
completely on his weekly message. Sister Lisa preaches at a Wednesday night service.
Sisters Tamara and April both co-pastor their own churches in Texas. Justin, another brother, operates an unrelated business.
Unlike some TV evangelists before him, Osteen is not an electric personality. On-screen, he comes off as polished and energized but not theatrical. He avoids formalities like a robe or an elevated seat. At times, particularly when he refers to his late father, he becomes emotional, struggling to finish his sentences.
''My father was more preacher-y. He came from a Southern Baptist tradition," says Osteen. ''I'm just more laid-back."
What's memorable about Osteen is his sense of humor. In what has become a signature for him, each week he starts his sermon with a joke related to church, religion, or the Bible. He's also fond of surprising family
members sitting in the audience by unexpectedly sharing personal stories about them. His wife, Victoria, is a frequent target because of her fondness for shopping.
''He got me good yesterday," Victoria said during a recent interview. ''He was talking about how he likes order and I like variety, which is why I go to every mall in the city."
With Osteen's increasing fame -- he was a guest on CNN's ''Larry King Live" last month -- he has found himself more and more under a microscope. ''To me, it's not a downside. I like people, and I'm honored
that they know me," he says.
On Houston's roadways, however, Osteen has made some changes.
''I used to speed. I'm just high-strung. I wouldn't think anything of going 70," he says. ''Now I make myself go 50 or 60."
Suzanne Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
[ Here's an article about Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church moving into the Compaq Center. ]
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 17, 2005; 5:21 PM
HOUSTON -- America's largest church celebrated its move into the former arena for the Houston Rockets with a capacity crowd of 16,000, an upbeat sermon from its televangelist pastor and a spirited welcome from the governor of Texas.
"How do you like our new home?" Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen asked to thunderous applause. "It looks pretty good doesn't it? This is a dream come true."
[ Lakewood Church members photo here. ]
Members of the Lakewood Church along with first time visitors worship Saturday, July 16, 2005 at the grand opening of the new facility in Houston. The Lakewood Church, led by televangelist and best-selling author, Joel Osteen, officially opened the doors of the new building, formerly the Compaq Center, home of the Houston Rockets. The Lakewood Church Central Campus took 15 months and approximately $75 million to
complete and will seat 16,000 people. (AP Photo/Jessica Kourkounis) (Jessica Kourkounis - AP)
The new home for the nondenominational Christian church is the former Compaq Center, once home to the Rockets.
There were no vacant spots in the arena as Lakewood, which recently became the first church in the United States to average more than 30,000 worshippers weekly, held its first service there Saturday night. The service also was televised live.
Gov. Rick Perry praised the church's new look and told the crowd, "As lawmakers we do a lot of things, but only the church can teach people to love.
"This is nothing short of amazing," Perry said. "It is so great to look across this crowd and see the wonderful diversity of this great state we call Texas."
It took more than 15 months and $75 million to complete the renovations - which included adding five stories to make more room.
"I couldn't believe how beautiful it was," Osteen said afterward when asked to describe how he felt when he first entered what he called the "Texas-sized" sanctuary. "It almost felt surreal."
Video clips playing on three gigantic screens showcased the building and recounted the history of the church. One video recalled the church's humble beginnings in an abandoned feed store in 1959 and traced Osteen's rise to the pulpit after his father and church founder, John Osteen, died 40 years later.
Osteen took over the church in 1999 and has increased the size of the congregation almost five-fold since then. His book, "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living Your Full Potential" has sold almost 3 million copies.
The service was highlighted by a 25-minute sermon by Osteen, who told the crowd that he and his wife, Victoria, went on their first date in the arena 19 years ago.
The crowd roared with approval throughout the message and was often brought to its feet as Osteen spoke in front of a large golden-colored globe that rotated slowly.
Members of the choir swayed happily, belting out several different songs below pictures of a crisp blue sky with puffy white clouds.
While collection plates were passed, video messages from people around the world, including Pastor T.D. Jakes of the Potter's House in Dallas, welcomed Lakewood to its new location.
"It is overwhelming, unbelievable, fantastic," Ann Bell, one of the church's original members, said after the service. "Words can't even describe it."
Click here for the Washington Post article.
[ Excerpt from the CBS news site, June 28, 2005. Some good stats on Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church -- congregation size, weekly attendance, growth, etc. ]
Joel Osteen is pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest evangelical church in America with 30,000 weekly attendants. With a TV ministry, it's watched in at least 100 countries.
His production staff and studio rival any network. As CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports, Osteen looks like an anchorman, talks like a Southern salesman and runs this congregation like a CEO.
Asked if it's part message and part marketing, Osteen says: "To me, we're marketing hope."
And hope sells. Last year, Lakewood brought in $55 million. Sales of Osteen's book "Your Best Life Now" became an instant best seller. But he makes no apologies for his style or his success.
"We need to be excellent for the Lord," says Osteen. "There's nothing that says we can't come in and have great sound and great lighting and be on time and have this service more produced if you'll call it that,
because, you know what, God deserves the best."
After being diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer, Nada Couture was drawn to Osteen's church for spiritual healing.
"It speaks to a lot of young people and a message that world needs to hear today," says Couture. "Not a preaching at you message, but a preaching with you thing."
And preaching to the young is something evangelicals across the country have mastered by offering everything from Christian-themed parks to rock bands.
Critics like Notre Dame sociology professor Michael Emerson say it cheapens religion by making it just another commodity for people to consume. They call it "feel-good theology."
"Religion changes to nothing more than 'make me feel good,' and there's no sacrifice," says Emerson.
That's not how they see it at Lakewood.
"The Bible says it's the goodness of God that leads people to repentance, and you know the more we preach hope and that God is good for you, the more people we will see come and get their lives turned around," says Osteen.
If Osteen's Lakewood Church is the Cadillac of all mega churches, then this new facility will be the Hummer. It's the old Compaq Center where the Houston Rockets played professional basketball and where Osteen
hopes to soon save souls.
It's a $90 million facility that will seat 16,000 people, double the current space. Osteen sees a day when up to 100,000 will stop in for weekly services.
"It's the same message that people were preaching hundreds and hundreds of years ago, we're just repackaging it," he says.
Osteen says it's a new day, and God's people need a new house.
For the full Joel Osteen story with pictures.