Joel Osteen Answers His Critics

Tells Byron Pitts "We're Not Perfect"

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Three years ago his ministry got so big, the Osteens moved into a 16,000 seat sports arena. Osteen says they spent about $100 million to renovate the place.

Why doesn't it look more like a church?

"Hopefully it'll look more and more like churches around the country," says Osteen's wife, Victoria.

Osteen and his wife of 21 years, who co-pastors Lakewood with him, took 60 Minutes on a tour of what they call their worship facility.

There's a programmed ceiling that changes colors during songs, and no pulpit; Osteen calls it a podium.

"This does have a concert feel to it," Pitts remarks.

"It does," Osteen agrees.

Asked if all this distracts from the message, Osteen tells Pitts, "I don't think so. I think it helps people be engaged."

Engaged and generous. Osteen can afford all this because of the money the church brings in. But he doesn't solicit contributions on television.

Asked why he doesn't ask for money during his TV broadcasts, Osteen says, "We didn't want anything to distract people when they were watchin' to try to turn off the message. 'Cause we know how people are skeptical of TV ministers. 'Hey, there's a guy, he just wants my money.' I didn't want any of that."

"But you do want their money," Pitts says.

"Well, we need people to support us, or we can't stay on. But we don't get on the air and ask for it. And it's amazing how people can see that you - when you're genuine. They send money," Osteen says.

Buckets of money -- over $43 million a year gets collected in the church, another $30 million or so comes in the mail. It's a cash cow and a family business. Osteen's brother, sister and mother are ministers in the church. But the real money for Osteen comes from his book sales, which are re-packaged versions of his sermons. His latest book, "Become A Better You," for which he reportedly got a $13 million advance, debuted in October at number one on the New York Times bestseller list and is on the list today. The book lays out seven principles he believes will improve our lives.

"To become a better you, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are. Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that," Pitts remarks.

"That's just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I'm called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there's a lot better people qualified to say, 'Here's a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.' I don't think that's my gifting," Osteen says.

Wherever he goes, people tell Osteen that he helps.

"Thank you so much. Thank you so much for what you do," one bookstore customer remarked. "You've changed my whole life."

"You are such an inspiration. I watch you every week. You're a great help," another said.

But many theologians from mainstream churches find Osteen's message misleading and shallow.

"I think it's a cotton candy gospel," says Rev. Michael Horton, a professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, Calif.

"His core message is God is nice, you're nice, be nice," Horton says, laughing. "It's sort of a, if it were a form of music, I think it would be easy listening. He uses the Bible like a fortune cookie. 'This is what's gonna happen for you. There's gonna be a windfall in your life tomorrow.' The Bible's not meant to be read that way."