Joel Osteen, the pastor of America’s largest church, is set to rock the U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox, with praise and worship and a message of hope on Saturday night as part of his roving, inspirational event series, “A Night of Hope.”
As America is reeling under financial insecurity, the pastor of the Houston megachurch wants to highlight the hope a loving and caring God offers, to change the perception that “God’s out to get me.”
The pastor of Lakewood Church told The Chicago Tribune Friday that the God he preaches does not have “a baseball bat to knock us down.”
“God doesn’t want us to be poor and suffering,” Osteen was quoted as saying. “Jesus came that we might excel. People are hungry for hope. Everyone wants to be loved,” stressed the televangelist who reaches around seven million viewers around the world through his television ministry.
About 50,000 people are expected to flock to the ballpark in Chicago, Ill., Saturday night for the event which starts at 7 pm. Ticket are priced at $19.10 each.
“We have seen God work in extraordinary ways in lives around the world through our Night of Hope Events, and we are anticipating great things in your life on the 6th!” reads Osteen’s statement. “We are always humbled to see God open these doors and bring the numbers of people who come to worship and hear His Word.”
About the venue Osteen said, “This is a familiar place. They’ve been here watching the teams play; the Sox play. Here, your defenses come down.”
Osteen, who is also an author, has held over 100 “Night of Hope” events across the United States since 2004. He began using stadiums only after a successful mega event in 2009 at Yankee Stadium in New York, which drew a crowd of over 50,000.
“We never dreamed we would be doing big stadiums,” Osteen told the Tribune. “I didn’t know if we could do it, but it all sold out. It just all fell into place for Chicago.”
Osteen’s church, founded by his father John Osteen in 1959, seats 16,000 people.
The Tribune attributed Osteen’s popularity to his preaching style. According to Phillip Sinitiere, who is working on a history of Lakewood Church and who was quoted by the daily, Joel Osteen combines classic “prosperity gospel” with other streams of Christianity and a more accessible vocabulary.
“He talks today of the still small voice that regulates personal moral decision,” said Sinitiere, an assistant professor at Sam Houston State University. “It’s a shift in language that would seemingly reach a wider audience.”
Sinitiere compared Osteen with Norman Vincent Peale who offered hope during the early days of the Cold War with his book The Power of Positive Thinking. Osteen presents a “predictable message during unpredictable times.” His first book was titled, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.