I did! First off I was HEATED because the braodcast cut out on me TWICE! I guess you gotta love WPRI 12 - the local CBS affiliate. (Sarcasm abounds in that comment!)
Now, on to the interview. It was pretty interesting to see the interview because the reporter was OBVIOUSLY biased based on the look on his face while interviewing Joel. He was not a Joel "supporter" but he didn't go in obviously bashing him. Maybe slyly, but nothing over the top.
Check out the interview for yourself here
The highlights of the interview: They kicked off with Israel singing one of his jams (he's performed on CBS before). Another highlight was when Joel started crying - again. But this cry was pretty amazing. He responded to his "critics" (more on that in a minute) by talking about the stories of life-change he's heard that has happened through his ministry. Marriages salvaged, lives turned around, amazing stories. As he began to share those stories he BROKE into a flood of tears. The interviewer asked him what was happening, Joel just told him he was humbled and in awe of what God was doing through him. Stuff of legend right there. The MONEY issue was actually a highlight. They mentioned the amount of money they brought in every year (around $73 million) and that it was a "cash cow" for them. Then, they tried to corner him about how his ministry never asks for money on TV. That worked in his favor. He said he didn't ask for money on the broadcasts because he didn't want it to detract fromt he message because he knows people are leary of TV preachers. He just wanted the message to be the focus. In return, $30mill of the $73mill they bring in comes from TV, WITHOUT ASKING! Awesome!
The low-lights: Joel was OBVIOUSLY uncomfortable when asked why his church didn't look like a "church." He looked like somebody asked him why was that weed found under his matress or something. It was a VERY uncomfortable moment that Victoria, his wife for those not in the know, came and bailed him out of by saying "hopefully more churches will look like ours." She's quick on her feet but it was a visibly uncomfortable moment. Another low-light came when the reporter asked him about his new book (that his the shelves today according to the interview) and why there was no mention of Jesus and how it sounds like a self help book. Joel responded with a "hey, there's some scripture in there." HUH? Not "Jesus is the center for all I preach" but "hey, there's some scripture in there. I see myself as a life coach." WHAT? There was the perfect opportunity to do the one thing that he gets criticized most about - not putting Jesus at the center of the story - and he didn't do it. Forget even the critics, he had an opportunity to put Jesus at the center of the story - and he didn't! A little let down by that. I get excited when I see "Jesus followers" in the media and when they can put Jesus in the lime-light i get excited. When they blow that opportunity - whether its the BIG preacher or the "small" Christian (not labels I adhere to by the way) - I get let down. Not to please me, but because of the opportunity to let our lights shine so that they'll praise our Father in heaven (Matt 5:16).
Then they had somebody on there calling his ministry "cotton candy gospel" and called him a heretic. He even said he uses the Bible "as a fortune cookie." I wouldn't go that far AT ALL! But, I guess he's entitled to his opinion.
Overall, I like Joel. I AM NOT on the list of Joel bashers. I don't think he's a heretic. I don't think he's doing this for himself, his ego or to get rich. Do I think he shares some important aspects of scripture? Sure I do. Do I feel like he doesn't cover the other important topics of the gospel - like sin and redemption - sure I do. Do I listen to him and get encouraged occassionally, sure I do. Do I wish he was a little more "Jesus" based and less "self help?" Sure I do. Do I think he's a help to millions of people around the world? Sure I do. I don't listen to Joel for the deep issues of Scripture, that's not his gift and he even says that's not his call (That's why I read the bible for myself...and listen to Charles Stanley!) But if I went to his church, would I feel equipped to do the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-13 - that's what pastors are for)? Probably not. But why do I get the feeling his small groups are POWERFUL and sometime deep?
What do you think?