home
RSS
April 24th, 2012
04:51 PM ET

Five things we learned from Joel Osteen's visit

By Eric Marrapodi and Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Joel Osteen, the pastor of America’s largest church, swung by the offices of CNN's Belief Blog on Tuesday. He’s in town for a "Night of Hope" event at Nationals Park baseball stadium this weekend, which is expected to draw thousands of worshipers who wouldn't otherwise step foot in a church.

Before taking batting practice with the Washington Nationals and delivering the opening prayer in Congress, Osteen sat down for a freewheeling interview with us. Five things we learned from his visit:

1. Osteen's optimism is unflappable

No matter how negative the outlook may be regarding religion, the economy or politics, Osteen sees the good.

Churches in America may be bleeding members but, Osteen’s own church – and those of his megapastor friends – are growing. "Sometimes what works 40 years ago doesn’t work today," he said, explaining how he built a church with 40,000 regular attendees in Houston, Texas.

"The denominations aren't as big of a deal so they may not look for a church that just says the First Church for Baptists or Methodists or Catholics,” he said. “They look for place where people are believers of a like minded faith. And so I see those types of churches growing and that's the type of church our is."

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Osteen has grown his church from a congregation of 7,000 since taking over for his dad in 1999.

“I’m biased,” when it comes to Christianity’s growth prospects,” Osteen said. “You know we’re coming from a stadium here and I’m thinking how’s this young guy from DC going to have 50,000 people - whatever that stadium holds - and I see it everywhere we go it seems like more than ever we see people hungry for their faith.

2. He hates weighing in on politics but will– sometimes

Osteen said he thinks politics "divides people" but was careful to add that "some pastors are very much called to be in politics like I’m called not to, so I like to celebrate what they’re doing."

The issue of religious liberty has been a hot one recently, especially over a pending White House mandate that free birth control be offered to employees at certain religious institutions. While many conservative pastors called the mandate a threat to religious liberty, Osteen said that it’s "not my personality to call something a threat but I would agree with what their argument, the basis of it, that we don’t want government telling us what we can, something that goes against our faith."

He added that he stands with Catholics and other Christians who opposed the government mandate, though it’s not completely clear if he’s satisfied by a White House adjustment to the rule that mollified some Catholics, if not the Catholic Church.

"I would hate to think of the day," Osteen said, "where someone would come and tell me you have to minister on this and it goes against what the scripture says."

3. Osteen sees Mormons as fellow Christians

"When I hear Mitt Romney say that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that he's the Christ, raised from the dead, that he's his savior - that's good enough for me," Osteen said in an interview that aired on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

While Osteen said Mormonism is "not traditional Christianity," he believes Mormons fall under the Christian tent.

"Mormonism is a little different, but I still see them as brothers in Christ," the pastor argued. That goes a big step further than many other Christian leaders, who have not gone so far to say that Romney is unquestionably Christian.

Osteen also told Blitzer that he believes President Barack Obama is a committed Christian. Some conservative Christian leaders have questioned the president’s religion.

4. The point of Osteen’s TV broadcast is inspiring people and getting them to church

Osteen is often criticized for preaching a watered-down version of Christianity that is light on sin and heavy on feeling good. He said the goal of his TV ministry, which reaches 10 million Americans a week and costs about $20 million dollars a year, is to help get people into churches.

"I’m trying to throw a big broad net to try to get people interested in God and believe that he’s for them and has a purpose,” he said. “Maybe someone that would never be interested before but then at the end of each broadcast I encourage them to get in a good Bible-based church so you can grow.”

"I see our ministry as an extension of the church, the local church,” he said. “I realize in a 30-minute broadcast you can’t do all that. I’m trying to be really broad."
Osteen added that the TV broadcast partners with 500 local churches to help transition people from TV to church.

5. Serving communion to 40,000 people is tricky

Answering a question from an @CNNBelief Twitter follower, Osteen said Lakewood Church celebrates communion once a month, even though TV viewers don’t see it.
"There’s pros and cons of a big church,” he said. “Cons is I don’t get to know everybody, I don’t get to go to their ballgame, I don’t get to marry everybody, but the pros are you get all this community, 800 ushers come in to serve, getting there at 7 in the morning on their day off and coming in on Saturday to make all those wafers.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (1,154 Responses)
  1. John

    I learned he is an upbeat, delusional megalomaniac who will do whatever it takes to be rich. Not exactly an emulation of Jesus. But then again, what tele-preacher is?

    May 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  2. Rob

    “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

    I think owning a private lear jet, living in a mansion and having lots of luxury cars qualifies a person as rich, assuming that Jesus was right, then Joel is in deep doo-doo

    May 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  3. kindness

    A thought to consider without ego
    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ will result in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Currently.... your constructing your own path that suits your sin lifestyle.

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
    Trancend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Relise your a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent....

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth.

    Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Down is up. Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.

    May 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • OxfordVoter

      Your Mysterious Mythical Man in the Sky called.

      Time for your meds.

      May 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  4. Amador City Guy

    1/ Osteen has great hair.
    2/ He is a skilled snake-oil salesman.
    3/ He has no shame.
    4/ His followers are brain-dead sheep.
    5/ He has great hair.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  5. Cynthia Googe

    Y'all please stop. You have know idea what fools you are making of yourselves with comments like," Is GOD's plan of service to have others speaking for him?" etc... Any other " Target" of critics like you would be dying... rolling on the floor laughing. But
    Joel's not laughing. Y'all are so pitiful, it's breaking his heart. So please, for everyone's sake, just stop.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      Rather than ridiculing the question, Cynthia, why don't you answer it?

      May 8, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • sam stone

      It isn't for "everyone's sake" is it, cynthia? it is for YOUR sake.....

      Do you cover your ears when you hear something you do not like? Yell out "la la la la la, i can't heeeaar you"?

      May 8, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  6. Mike

    Dear Hopesurvives
    Last I heard our government was founded on seperation of church and state...Obama doesn't have to govern by biblical principles. If I'm not mistaken this is the USA not the middle east.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  7. OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

    I learned that you CAN fool some of the people ALL o' the time.

    I learned that CNN lies with deceptive headlines to score "hits" revenue.

    I learned that Osteen is in it for the money too.

    I learned that even megachurches refuse to pay property taxes and fire/EMT assessments, foisting that municipal infrastructure load off on individual homeowners.

    I learned that denial is not just a river in Egypt but a way of life for fat cat theocrats

    May 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  8. sottanisse

    Why do people listen to this multi-millionaire's drivel? He's a car-salesman in a mega-church. Joel Osteen, go away.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • OxfordVoter

      "Your all smart people."

      And you do not understand simply elementary school grammar rules.

      Not to mention you're a certifiable nut case 😉

      May 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • OxfordVoter

      And this "smart person" replied to the wrong comment. My apologies.

      And car salesman is an apt description.

      May 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  9. Pat

    The Bible says in the last days pastors will become "ear ticklers". Joel Osteen is an ear tickler, afraid to tell it like it is.

    May 7, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  10. Hopesurvives

    While I enjoy listening to Joel Olsteen's preaching I can tell he doesn't follow politics if he thinks Obama is a committed Christian. There are numerous policies that Obama has enacted that are against Biblical principles. Obama if much more fond of Muslims than he is of Christians. Even though he went to Rev Wriight's church and Rev Wright professes to be a Christian but Rev Wright preaches hate from his puplit not Christianity, I don't think Obama has experienced a true Christian pastor, maybe if he had his views and policies wouldn't be so anti the Bible.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • sam stone

      his job is not to enforce the bible, it is to lead the nation

      May 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Greg

      Yeah, he won't even support stoning of non-virginal brides. He is totally anti-bible.

      May 8, 2012 at 6:12 am |
  11. James Reilly

    You tricked me! Your headline read, "5 Things We Learned from Joel Osteen," so I naturally thought, "What? He died?" I clicked the link to find out. THEN I discovered he'd just visited your studios, as part of an appearance in town. Did you do that on purpose? Word that headline misleadingly? Shame on you, CNN!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  12. maria

    He is a crook like many others pastors ,priests,whatever you call them! anyone can read and learn the bible and starting preaching and make millions ,this people are crroks I can't believe you go and pay to listen a crook read or talk about a bible...I saw him in a show with Oprah she asked him who he lives how he can afford his life style ,the answer was (of course lying) God provide him ...yeah right! this people sholud no be allowed to have this kind of business yes it is a business ,how to became rich without doing NOTHING.........

    May 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Maria is an idiot

      Maria is a lying idiot. If she knew just a bit about about Joe's life and what he's done for Lakewood she would be ashamed of her stupidity and lies. Joel has taken his time to travel the nation ministering and encouraging people and he has contributed dozens of millions of dollars to retire Lakewood's debt.

      Stupid people should have enough sense to know when to keep their mouths shut.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

      JOEL: stop posting as "Maria is an idiot" and pay your farking property taxes you tax-dodging phony.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  13. Chris

    What he taught me...Nothing, but reaffirmed that religion is a bad joke that is ruining our society.

    May 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  14. Cynthia Googe

    Dear chosen2 , Your knowledge of scripture is impressive, I wish I knew all that you do! It is also a perfect example of Joel Osteen's success. Imagine a person in need of spiritual guidance. They are desperate for help! Once they tryed to read the Bible in a hotel room, but couldn't make heads or tails of it and gave up. Once they tried going to church. Now, they felt like an idiot in public.One day they hear a friendly voice..they see a warm smile.The understand the language. They are no longer ashamed of their ignorance. They feel worthy and welcomed.They eventually find a church home of their OWN where they continue to grow. We don't begin to learn math in Algrbra class. My Daughter teaches Kindergarten. Her smile lights up room! All those little hands she takes ( from their Mommies ) as she leads new children into class.. God gave her that smile with early childhood education in her future. Joel Osteen's smile lights up every where he goes....God put that together too.

    Dear Kindness, thank you so much for your comments, " Something like seeing a new color.. but we will not be able to clearly
    explain it" The peace that passes all understanding. What a wonderful analogy! Please share some more!

    May 6, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • chosen2

      2 Corinthians 11:13-15 "13 For such false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.15 Therefore no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" J.O works are works of covetousness, that is what today's Christianity is all about. 2 Peter 2:1-3 "1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" If you are a chosen of God you will know the truth. chosen2salvation.net is a place for you.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • sam stone

      Yep, nothing like a parrot

      May 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  15. DARK MATTER

    IAM A CHRISTIAN,,, IN CHRISTIANITY MANY ARE MISTAKE,,, TO FOLLOW TO JESUS IS RIGHT,,,, BUT THIS IS NOT A GOD ,,,, THE WORD IS THIS,,,, IF YOU ARE NOT BELONG TO THE SON YOU CANNOT BELONG TO THE FATHER,,,,, NOW WHO IS JESUS,,, A SON OF THE GOD ,,WHAT IS HER RELIGION,,, MUSLIM JEWS CATHOLICS BUDDHIST,,,HINDU OR THE OTHER RELIGION,,,,,,THIS IS THE DOOR OF HEAVEN NOW YOU CAN SELECT ANY OF THIS TO ENTER TO THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER,,, THE KEY IS THE BOOKS ,,,BIBLE,,CORAN,,,OR OTHER BOOKS,,,, CHRISTIANITY ARE MOST ADVANCE BECAUSE OF SCIENCE,,,,, TOO LONG

    May 5, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  16. One one

    Number 6. He will Do everything he can to duck the issue of whether non-believers are sent to hell by god. He never talks about it on TV and avoids the subject in interviews. He got himself in a bit of a mess when Larry King asked him about it. His brand of religion is Christian light, don't worry, be happy, and, SMILE. And, of course, keep the donations comming.

    May 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  17. Dr. Rick Stoppe

    If one knew nothing about a religion, one certainly would want evidence before believing. Nothing is more deceptive than blind faith. God is Truth and no field of honest inquiry can ever be in disagreement with him. Embrace the science and knowledge of all fields. Allow that various ministries bless different persons without criticizing Joel O. or mainstream others. The Christ of faith is not the Jesus of history. Faith cannot change history, but it can change your life to one who loves God and neighbor.

    May 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  18. Etalan

    Joel Osteen is one of those religion figure that make his million with his religion. He own couple of those Billion dollar church, those horrible sunday tv show. He is the evidence that religion is big business and people who accept him or his religion is destroying freedom, and critical thinking. Please stop donating money to his church and donate it to your local school or college. Please stop donating money to church or your child might become as insane as the guy below me, 'kindness'.

    May 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • mandarax

      I live in the Bible belt and I'm frequently hit up for donations by some church youth group or sunday school class outside the grocery store or other businesses. I'm conflicted because I want to support kids, but I don't approve of what they are being taught. Eventually I decided that for every dollar a religious group hits me up for I will donate a dollar to a more worthy educational charity. Lately I have been giving to the National Center for Science Education.

      May 5, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  19. kindness

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ will result in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Currently.... your constructing your own path that suits your sin lifestyle.

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
    Trancend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Relise your a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent....

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth.

    Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Down is up. Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box

    May 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Etalan

      Hello crazy person. I will not Accept Jesus Christ, since you look like you accept him, then you went insane. Base on you post, they must have drug you, torment you, torture you, then brain wash you. I hope you will find your freedom and escape your jailer. Good luck.

      May 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      "too late"

      kindness.....your empty proxy warnings are laughable.

      seek some professional hel[

      May 5, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • sam stone

      help, too

      May 5, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  20. kindness

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ will result in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Currently.... your constructing your own path that suits our sin lifestyle.

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc . Were all a part of the problem .We are all sinners. Grace is givent to those who renounce the temporal world and its humanistic philosophy....

    It's real. Ive challenged my beleifs . Iv'e experimented with psuedo "man made experiences"
    True faith in Jesus Christ is the answer. Don't lean to your own understanding in trying to order the unknown dark matter around us.

    Trancend the temporal world. And its thinking...It's all vanity...why wait till your almost dead to enlighten yourself...start now...Repent...Its all vanity...

    Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fate or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
    Trancend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Relise your a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent....

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth.

    Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Down is up. Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Bart

      Seeking the truth will only lead smart people to see you have just told them to turn there back on their fellow man, and to throw away any political power they may have to make a better world for their children.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.