Joel Osteen, pastor of the 52,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston, sees the studies that faith is on the decline in America. Yet he remains hopeful, he told The Denver Post in a recent interview.
“I see the studies that faith is on the decline and things,” he says, “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.”
“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.”
Joel Osteen, often framed as a ‘prosperity evangelist’ also talked about suffering. He acknowledges life is full of suffering and difficulty. “But I believe that 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.”