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"We’re Not Perfect," Says America’s Most Popular Preacher

Answering his critics, Pastor Joel Osteen says he’s not perfect, but the reward he gets from helping to change the lives of his followers is affirmation enough that he is preaching the right message. Then, the popular pastor, who is seen, heard and read by millions across the world, breaks down in tears in his interview with correspondent Byron Pitts. Osteen’s interview will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Oct. 14 (7:30-9:00 PM, ET/7:00-9:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.

"You know, you get people that want to criticize, ‘You’re not doing enough of this, enough of that.’ Well, we’re not perfect," he tells Pitts. "But to have, you know, hundreds of people telling you, ‘You changed my life. I haven’t been in church in 30 years,’ or ‘You saved my marriage.’ Not me, but God, but they’re telling me…," says Osteen, who then buries his head in his hands. "I told you I was a crybaby, but you just feel very rewarded. You feel very humbled," says Osteen of his reaction to his followers’ thanks. Click here to watch an excerpt of the interview.

Osteen’s message lacks the fire and brimstone of fundamentalism and eschews doctrinaire interpretation of the Bible. His extremely positive message, delivered to 42,000 attendees each week in his Lakewood church in Houston and in books and speaking tours, is attacked by theologians for being too optimistic and easy. "I think it’s a cotton candy gospel," says Dr. Michael Horton, theology professor at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, Calif. "His core message is God is nice, you’re nice, be nice….If it were a form of music, I think it would be easy listening," he tells Pitts.

Osteen says he’s just keeping a complicated subject simple. "Sometimes you have to keep it simple and not make it so complicated that people don’t understand," he says. “I think you need to talk on the peoples’ level, not dumbing it down, but just saying, ‘You know what?...I could get up here and try to impress you with Greek words and doctrine.’ And there are people that need that. They want to study deeper," he tells Pitts. "But I know what I’m called to do is say, ‘I want to help you learn how to forgive today. I want to help you to have the right thoughts today.’ Just simple, simple things," says Osteen.

The strategy has paid off in followers and revenue for Osteen, who came from behind the scenes eight years ago to take over his deceased father’s ministry. His Sunday service, seen by 10 million television viewers worldwide, is the most-watched religious service in the world. His books are bestsellers in the U.S. and abroad and are available in 25 languages. In addition to the book revenue, Lakewood Church takes in $43 million a year in collections and followers send another $30 million into his ministry by mail.

I think Mike Horton is jealous. I can admit that I'm jealous that my blog doesn't pull in $73 million a year.

Here's an interesting factoid: I can find Grace to You, the Billy Graham Evnagelical Association, Focus on the Family, and even the disreputable TBN, but I couldn't find Lakewood Church or Joel Osteen Ministries in the Charity Navigator. I wonder why ...

UPDATED: For our international readers, and luddites like me who don't have cable or live in a place where we can receive a decent TV signal, 60 Minutes has the smarts to put some of its interviews on the web via
  1. Go here.
  2. click the link "video" on the left just below the red box
  3. when the popup window/video viewer open, click "60 Minutes" in the nav bar in the center
  4. scroll for the interview you want to see on the right
My guess is that the video won't be up until after the interview has broadcast West-Coast time, but maybe you can get what you want to see there.