Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, said in a recent interview that churches are changing with the times and people are becoming less interested in specific denominations.
"It seems like the churches that are changing with the times ... and making the Scripture relevant, that's what's really important. People are not as interested, at least in what I see, in the denominational name. I don't see that," Osteen said in an interview with the York Daily Record ahead of the A Night of Hope worship event on May 31 in Hershey, Pa.
"The times have changed where people are not so set on going to a particular denomination. ... I have friends who were staunch Baptists and now they don't even put Baptist in their name," added the pastor, who leads a nondenominational congregation of over 40,000.
Osteen, who leads Night of Hope events around the country with his wife, Victoria, added that despite his large following and great international success, Lakewood never tried to be a "big church."
"My parents started it with 90 people and it continued to grow. When I talk to people from the pulpit, I talk like I'm talking to one person. So I think a lot of it comes from the pulpit," Osteen said of connecting with his congregation.
"After every service, I spend time meeting about 500 people. I'll take about an hour at an area backstage to meet people. So I tell people, 'We're a big church, but I'd love to meet you.'"
Osteen was also asked to give his thoughts on some controversial issues, such as gay marriage. Like in previous interviews, the pastor maintained that he is a traditional pastor who is not in favor of redefining marriage, but insisted that he is not against anybody and wants everybody to have "all the rights they deserve."
As for his great financial success and estimated net worth of close to $40 million, Osteen remarked: "I never did any of this for money."
The Lakewood Church senior pastor continued: "I wrote a book and it sold millions of copies. Victoria and I don't take a salary from the church. ... I believe God wants you to excel and be leaders. Some people grew up thinking 'God is not pleased with me,' or 'God is out to get me.'
"I don't think that way. I see God as being for us, smiling down on us and He wants us to live an abundant life. ... I want you to be able to send your kids to college. My dad was raised during the Depression and he had no money. I saw my dad come out of nothing and make something of his life, and I feel that's inside of all of us."