He is rich, famous, and has millions of fans around the world, but he's not an actor or a rock star – he’s the son of a preacher, an evangelical pastor from Houston named Joel Osteen and he’s filling stadiums across the country.
His services have been compared to rock concerts. Osteen is on a 15-city tour across the country -- and is in Seattle now for a “Night of Hope” Friday night.
“We’re really just here to lift people’s spirit, and to let them know that there are good days ahead,” said Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church Ministries.
Osteen’s ministry reaches millions of viewers weekly in more than 100 countries around the world. So what's the draw?
“I think part of it is, the message is positive, and it's hopeful, and these days there's a lot of things trying to pull people down. And we try to make the Scripture relevant to people. And I don't know, I think there's something that resonates inside when somebody tells you that there are going to be good days ahead,” he said.
But that approach – which has helped him achieve so much - is what his critics call "Christianity Lite." They say his services rarely mention Scripture, and there is little mention of sin or suffering.
“We recognize these are difficult times, and I think the worst thing that can happen is for people to get bitter and negative and discouraged – ‘It's never going to change’ -- that just draws in more negativity,” Osteen said.
“I think a lot of people have grown up” and no longer believe that “God’s out to get them. I don’t think that’s the kind of God we serve,” he said.
His stance against gay marriage, he said, is based on his understanding of the Bible.
“We're not against anybody, but when you look in the Scripture, you never see anything but a traditional type marriage, and that's what we stand for,” he said.
“When people walk away from one of my messages … I hope they walk away inspired, expecting 2012 to be an amazing year.”
Osteen and his wife, Victoria, will hold their service at KeyArena at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15.