Joel Osteen has the largest and fastest-growing church in the United States.
NewsChannel5 anchor Ted Henry reported that the smiling minister never preaches about sin and never asks for money.
Osteen, 44, said he never set out to be a televangelist or even a preacher, but today he's both.
He took over his dying father's Lakewood Church pulpit in Houston and turned it into the megachurch of all churches, Henry reported.
Henry said more than 17,000 people attend his weekly nondenominational, one of four giant services held there every week.
Lakewood works hard to be very contemporary and to appeal to all people from all backgrounds.
"The more successful you are, the more criticism you will encounter," Osteen said.
From the pulpit, Osteen preaches personal success. He holds little favor in reminding people how sinful they are.
Henry said his critics call this cotton candy theology -- it tastes good, but it doesn't have a lot of substance to it.
Osteen does not agree.
"The fact is that we preach a good God, and that God does want us to rise higher. I'm never going to win those critics over," Osteen said.
He is also heavily criticized for not going to seminary.
"How do you handle critics who accuse you of not being strict enough in the way you interpret the Bible?" Osteen asked. "I feel my strengths are to encourage people to help them live their everyday life, and so I just go back to saying you can't be everything to all people."
Osteen still draws people from everywhere, including Ohio.
"We are Catholics, and we love the Catholic faith, but seeing him on TV is phenomenal. We thought being down here having the opportunity to see this and pray with them and witness, it would be perfect," said Ohioan Jeff Cly.
Henry reported that Osteen is the most influential Christian in America today, even above Billy Graham, according to Church Report magazine. He takes in $75 million to run his huge enterprise, including game rooms for kids, concert halls, a bookstore and a gift store.
They don't pass the plate, they pass the bucket, but on TV Osteen never asks for money, nor does he ever talk politics or church doctrine. Henry said his appeal is that he never puts you down.
"Joel, you're not a finger-wagger. You don't preach so much about the perils of sin. In fact, you don't ever preach about it. Why not?" Henry asked.
"You know, I grew up in church and it seem like most of the people that I know, they already knew what they were doing wrong. And to come to church and beat them down, and make them feel like they're just the worst sinner, I have a different approach," Osteen said.
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