(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen has shared a little bit about his vision of heaven in an interview, affirming that he imagines it as a place with a multicultural congregation and full of worship, reflective of the large and racially-mixed numbers who fill his Texas church.
"When I look out there I think 'this is what heaven's going to be like,'" Osteen said, responding to a question by "The 700 Club" reporter Kristi Watts. The reporter had asked Osteen: "How in the world are you able to get blacks, whites, Mexicans, Asians, young, old, poor, rich in one place?"
Lakewood Church in Houston hosts the largest church congregation in the United States, with over 40,000 attendees on a weekly basis – although Osteen shared in the interview that he could have never expected his ministry would reach such levels of success.
"My dad's message was a message of hope and love and it seemed like everybody came – all different races. Even when my father died, I told Victoria. 'I'm young. I'm white. I don't know if I'll reach everybody like my dad.' But I was just thrilled to say, the same thing carries on," he added about his wide-spread appeal.
The Lakewood Church pastor then praised God for the help He gives him every time he steps on stage to speak in front of the thousands in their seats and the millions watching worldwide – even though he admits he's still "shy and reserved."
"You know, I like to have a celebration every service like you talked about. It may feel like a rock concert or a pep rally, but there are enough things pulling us down in life. I'd like to come in and say, 'We're going to celebrate what God's done for us.' We've all got challenges. We've all got reasons not to celebrate, but that's what faith is all about … say, 'God we're going to just celebrate who you are today," he said in response to the comparison some make between his sermons and rock concerts.
"I feel like my message is to let people know that God is a good God. That He's on their side… and that no matter where they are in life, no matter what's happened, He still has a great plan for them," Osteen added about his core message.
Victoria Osteen, who has been married to the Lakewood pastor for over 20 years and often joins him on stage at the church, shared that much like her husband, she feels that it is her calling to help people.
"It's very easy for me to just encourage people in their family life and in their children. It's just very natural to me. It's what I feel comfortable doing," Victoria Osteen said.
The Osteens' next "Night of Hope" sermon event takes place tonight, July 13, in Cleveland, Ohio.