Televangelist Joel Osteen Speaks to 'GMA'

ByABC News via logo

Oct. 20, 2005 — -- Author and televangelist Joel Osteen attributes much of his success to his positive message.

Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, which is attended by more than 40,000 people and the services are watched by millions on television. Osteen's father, a Pentecostal preacher, started the Lakewood church with a few dozen members in 1959.

"I think it has to do with the fact that I am positive and I preach a message of hope and encouragement," Osteen said of his success. "I don't believe in beating people down. We believe in making it simple and practical," he added.

"I think a lot of it is just God's blessings and favor," he said.

Osteen delivers a similar message in his best-selling book, "Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," and his new book "Daily Readings From Your Best Life Now: 90 Devotions for Living at Your Full Potential," which is coming out next week. His new book is a reworking of his first book into 90 bite-sized pieces for daily reading and inspiration.

"I just challenge you to change your attitude," he said. "It's a choice you make. Thank God you're alive and breathing. There are a lot of people in this world that are a lot worse off than all of us."

"Just believe that God has a great future for us and life is what we choose to make of it so we have to make the most of it," he added.

Osteen has faced criticism for recently commenting on a cable TV program that non-Christians may not go to heaven.

"I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven," he said on CNN. "I don't know ... I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God ... I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know."

Osteen has since apologized.

"I just don't like to take the approach of just being the judge of who's going to heaven and hell," he said.

"I'm here to present the gospel, which is called good news," he added.

Asked about whether Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' religious faith should be a consideration as the Senate prepares to take up her nomination, Osteen said: "Well, I don't think it should hurt you in any way. To me, having faith gives you character and helps you walk in integrity."

"But I think you have to be qualified on all points," he added.