Bishop TD Jakes hits out at celebrity pastors

Published 12 May 2014  |  
Photo: The Christian Post
Bishop TD Jakes has lambasted those who "buy into" the idea of celebrity pastors

Despite leading a 30,000 strong church, Bishop TD Jakes has revealed that he "hates" some of the trappings of ministering to a huge congregation.

As the founder and lead pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, and with a strong social media presence, it may come as a surprise that Jakes has criticised the cult of celebrity that often pervades megachurches across the US.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, the West-Virginia born pastor shared that popularity "is actually the part of ministry that I hate".

"I really hate it because from the inside out I see myself as quite normal, and the pressure to live up to all of your expectations – it frustrates me," he added.

"I don't need that to make me feel good about myself – I liked myself before you knew me. I didn't need you know me to like me; I liked me alone. So I don't really need all of that, and I kind of shy away from it. I don't like to go out into crowds and be accosted by masses of people and signing autographs. I can handle it, but I don't need it."

Jakes was keen to note that the heart behind his ministry hasn't changed since his first post at the Greater Emanuel Temple of Faith – which had a congregation of just ten people – in 1980; despite The Potter's House now being one of the fasted growing in the US. "I'm the same guy that pastored 50 people on Easter Sunday if you counted pregnant people and dead folks," he laughed.

"I didn't become some kind of creature when they turned into 5,000. I can show you my tapes then and my tapes now – the message is still the same."

When quizzed on the nature of physically handling a church with such a huge number of members, Jakes admitted that management styles have to adapt, "but the message remains the same if you are not drunken on the need to be a celebrity."

"I was in a small church for too long to buy into that," he added.

"There are pastors whose egos demand that type of adulation; I personally think I'm too gifted to have to get it from that stream.

"I like simple friends, and simple places even simple food, doing simple things, because for me...that's life."

Jakes' comments follow those made by Rick Warren at the HTB Leadership Conference in London last week. Warren declared to a packed out audience at the Royal Albert Hall that it is vital to build "purpose driven, not personality driven churches".

"Last year [following the death of his son, Matthew] was the worst year of my life," he said. "I was in agony, and I didn't preach, read or do anything in our church for a third of the year. And it was Saddleback's [his church in Orange County, California] best year in terms of growth; we grew by 4,000 people.

"That's because it's not a personality driven church, but a purpose driven church. We bring people in, build them up, teach them how and send them out – it's not a ministry built on me. If I die the church will keep going!

"You judge a church's health not on its seating capacity, but on its sending capacity. Not by how many people sit in the auditorium, but how many are sent on to the mission field. You don't judge an army by how many eat in the mess hall, but on how many are out there on the front line," Warren finished.

Bishop TD Jakes was interviewed to promote his new book 'Instinct: The power to unleash your inborn drive'. His interview with the Huffington Post can be watched in full here.

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