I have never seen Joel Osteen in the media before the 60 Minutes interview that aired last night. I recommend that you take ten minutes to go to the 60 Minutes page to watch the interview. It was eye-opening and demands reaction, not necessarily criticism of Osteen, but we need to be aware of giant trends within Christianity like the one Mr. Osteen is such a huge part of.
It is astonishing how so many people buy into Osteen's message of prosperity, and it is scary that his message seems to encompass a very small portion of the real Message. He draws 16,000 people every Sunday to an old sports arena that he has spent $100 million on to renovate into a state-of-the-art mega church. According to 60 Minutes, there aren't explicitly religious symbols anywhere near the front of the church like, I don't know, a cross, but the arena's ceiling does change color to the music. Ooh. Ah.
Just a few standout facts:
The annual in-house offering is $43 million.
Mr. Osteen's ministry receives another $30 million by mail or online donations.
Mr. Osteen received a $13 million advance...ADVANCE...for his new book that comes out this week I believe.
During the interview, not one word was mentioned about helping the poor with all that money, or what the heck Mr. Osteen does with it. The message: come to God and you will prosper is enticing to say the least, but it eclipses this message, that I think might be a little more rewarding: come to God so that others may prosper.