The man — and burgeoning brand — hailed by some as young Hollywood’s most influential voice was in Atlanta this week to, among other tasks, tout his first book.
“Purpose Awakening: Discover the Epic Idea that Motivated Your Birth” can lay claim to the rare feat of achieving critical and commercial success since its release a little more than a month ago.
Things appear just as promising on the home front for the 41-year-old pastor.
His One Church International in Los Angeles accommodates a congregation numbering about 3,500 — actors, musicians and artists commingling with non-industry professionals. Perhaps the rationale for his appeal lies in the requisite intangibles that may best define it: charisma and content.
The Neighbor Newspapers caught up with Roberts at The Café and Bar at Mandarin Oriental Atlanta between speaking engagements and press obligations for a candid sit-down.
Q: Did you find Hollywood or vice versa?
A: In 2002, when we planted the church I felt like there was a need for a church that was more relevant to the times — not determined by the times but relevant to the times. And, I felt like I had been called to fill that void.
In 2004, I was led to move it from the south Los Angeles area to North Hollywood. I didn’t know why; I just felt like that’s where God wanted us to be. When I got to North Hollywood, the fastest growing community that came to the church were all young artists — young Hollywood.
So, I didn’t plan on being a media-focused pastor or an entertainment-focused pastor, but those were the people who were assigned to my voice.
Q: Atlanta has its own entertainment industry aspirations. What is your impression of the city?
A: I love Atlanta because I’ve got friends here. People who I met in L.A. are in the business here.
The set of “Being Mary Jane” is here — several members of our church are on that show. Several work with Tyler Perry on his movies and television shows.
So, I feel really connected to the city. It feels like a mini-L.A. to me in many respects. What brought me here is a combination of really all that I do: One, the preaching/the pastoring.
Two, promoting the book and introducing myself as an author as well as connecting with the media community here in the city.
Q: What inspired the book?
A: Purpose changed my life. Being awakened to why I’m here changed everything about my life. It accelerated my dreams. It really brought me into influence — not for the sake of influence, but for the sake of being able to influence people.
Everything around us has a purpose. How could we, being the finest of God’s creation, be content with living without purpose?
So, I wrote it because I believe that purpose is real, I believe that people can find it and I believe that over the past 11 years or so the things that I have learned about purpose I can put into a book that would allow anyone who read it to apply the principles to discover their purpose and experience a life that too few people actually live.
Q: What is your reaction to the reception it’s gotten?
A: The book is doing very well – in its third printing already and it just came out on March 18.
Publishers Weekly wrote a very powerful review on it and called it “equal parts Rick Warren [author of ‘The Purpose-Driven Life’] and Joel Osteen [author of ‘Your Best Life Now’].” So, it’s really got a lot of traction, a lot of momentum and I’m getting a lot of positive feedback.
Q: How did Touré Roberts, the man, get here, figuratively speaking?
A: My background is business. I worked in corporate marketing and sales for 11 years prior to stepping into ministry.
In 2000, I had a personal encounter where I was prospering in every way except spiritually and emotionally. So, I went and really tried to find the God of my youth. … For me, becoming a minister and pastor was just the organic overflow of what was happening in my life personally.
Q: In what ways do you help artists?
A: We also have a multi-media [program] called the Artist Resource Center. One of the things I noticed is I was preaching to artists — the up-and-comers — when God said, “Okay, that’s great, but, if you’re going to really help them you need to create creative spaces for them that they can come to for free to work on their craft and be mentored.
Editor’s note: According to the church’s website, the center plans to add locations in other cities, including Atlanta.