Joel Osteen denies he's a prosperity preacher, says his focus is on 'helping other people'

Joel Osteen is pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas(Facebook/Joel Osteen)

Joel Osteen may be one of America's wealthiest pastors but he continues to brush off the claim of critics that he preaches the 'prosperity gospel.'

The pastor preaches to around 40,000 people each week at Lakewood Church, Houston, and has sold millions of books over the years.  He's not just a household name in the U.S. but around the world, with televised broadcasts of his preaching going out to nearly 100 countries each week.  

A consistent theme across his sermons and writings is how to be happier and successful.  But it's what some see as an over-emphasis on financial success as a blessing of God - and what they can do to receive that blessing - that makes him a controversial figure. 

Add to this his own personal wealth which allegedly includes a $10m mansion in a wealthy suburb of Houston and millions earned in book royalties.

But he has consistently denied that he a prosperity preacher, mostly recently in an interview with the Denver Post this month, in which he claimed his message was different. 

When the interviewer asks him how he would respond to people who think he's 'all about money,' the 'Every Day A Friday' author answered that he was all about being a blessing to others.

'First off, I don't take a salary from my church or ministry. I've been blessed outside of that. But no doubt what you're saying is true. But I think you have to overcome it by being who you are, by living a life of integrity and helping other people,' he said. 'Our message is that we're blessed to be a blessing to others. All of us here in America are blessed compared to parts of the world. I try to just focus on helping other people,' he claimed.

He gave a similar answer when the interviewer asked how he would interpret Jesus's famous teaching that it is 'easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?'

'I think you have to take it all in perspective. In the Scripture, Christianity was started with Abraham. Abraham was one of the wealthiest men of his day. It's not about wealth. I think he was talking about how if your focus is on riches – just, how can I be wealthy and focus on myself all the time – that's not what Micah and others in the Bible were talking about. If your dream is to rise higher, to do great things, to have money to help mankind, to be a blessing to others, I don't think God has any problem with that.'

He went on to argue that money made it possible to do the work of God. 

'We wouldn't have the Compaq Center today if God hadn't blessed people the way they could give. It cost $100 million to renovate that facility. (Those are) people that believe that God can do something with a life — that I can rise higher and accomplish things and excel. Not to focus on me, but to be a blessing to others,' he said.