NPR’s Ayesha Rasco spoke with Bishop TD Jacks about investing in the black community and ministering not only from the pulpit but also as an entrepreneur.

Ayesha Rasko, Host:

It’s Easter Sunday, and for those in the pews of Dallas megachurch The Potter’s House, the message must be about salvation and resurrection. TD Jakes founded The Potter’s House in 1996. Over the years, it became the largest church in the country and Jakes became one of the most influential religious leaders in America.

(soundbite of archived recording)

TD Jakes: I know you think you’re saved at the altar, but the truth of the matter is, you’re saved when you start walking toward Him. I got up an hour earlier because I’m behind him. I come to church because I follow Him. My body tells me to stay in bed, but I’m behind her. My meat…

RASCOE: But as Jacques likes to say, don’t put a period where a comma should be. And so there’s TD Jakes, Comma, Entrepreneur. He has long been a writer and has done TV and film. He won a Gospel Grammy in 2003. New push in real estate. His company recently purchased 95 acres of land in southwest Atlanta. And while the venture is not affiliated with Potter’s House, he sees it as an extension of his faith.

Jacques: The problem with most big cities, I’ve talked to mayors about, is that people who work in the cities – police officers, nurses, janitors, what have you – can’t live in the city – firemen – that they work. So this is a common problem, not just in Dallas and Atlanta. This is not a unique problem. This is a serious problem in many areas.

RASCOE: And so – you know, you look at Redfin. The area has a home population of 44,000 in 1995 – 235,000 last year. So how does this development ensure that housing prices are affordable for police officers and nurses and so on?

JAKES: Well, we’re going to have a wide range. When you talk about mixed-income, that you want to cover the waterfront, there’s going to be some low-tech, low-income housing development. A certain quota of these houses is going to be more affordable than others. I’m a big fan of mixed-income housing because sociologically, when you build all the low-income housing, we’ve already done that. We watched that movie play out, and it didn’t have a happy ending.

Michael Phillips: Our mission is to do good by doing good.

RASCOE: Michael Phillips works with Bishop Jakes as chief operating officer.

Phillips: Every aspect of our business, whether we’re making movies, making music, doing events or initiatives, is about doing good by doing good and focusing on the social impact of that, with returns as a metric for us.

RASCOE: So this idea has been around for a long time, and I know about TD Jacks – about the movies being made and things of that nature. I guess, real estate – has that always been a part of it, or is it a new part of the venture?

Phillips: No, real estate has always been a part of the enterprise. Our media company, Dexterity Media, where many of our movies come out, has always been a part of the enterprise. Ours – Dexterity Sounds, our music division, has always been a part of the enterprise.

RASCOE: But that enterprise operates in the marketplace – capitalism, winners and losers. It can be a long way from a church pulpit and a Bible lesson about works of charity and mercy.

Phillips: You can’t be philanthropic without being an entrepreneur. If you are going to help people, you have to be entrepreneurial to have the resources to help people. The two walk hand in hand.

RASCOE: There are high-profile leaders in American evangelicalism who failed in their calling by straying too far into the secular world. In fact, Jacques bought the building that would become The Potter’s House from a televangelist who had been convicted of tax evasion. Bishop Jacques, however, is involved in the same mission in everything he does. Whether preaching to thousands from the altar, connecting through the pages of a book or album tracks, or making deals in the C-suite, he says he remains in Jesus and in the service of his community. And he acknowledges that what care looks like can change in an increasingly changing world.

Jakes: I’m not involved with a megachurch. I am not saved in a megachurch. I did not start in a megachurch, and I am not the face of a megachurch. I have been saving in front of a store. So I love doing what I do, regardless. There is always going to be change. As long as there is social and cultural change, there will be change. But the church has always lived. He said, upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And he was out when he said it. There was no building, and the church survived. It’s an idea. It is a fellowship. It is a living, breathing being for whom Christ died. And it doesn’t matter the location, whether it’s a house or a barn or a tent like we used to do, or a megachurch or a mini-church.

What many people don’t understand about the “black church,” quote-unquote, is that it is still the gateway to the black community, with no entity seeing more black people on a weekly basis than the church. Not that we all go to church, but we all know someone in our family that does. We can’t say that about anything else. Clubs don’t do that. Nothing else does. The church does it. So if the business people out there are listening to me and they’re trying to find a way to reach underserved communities but they’re trying to avoid the church, I understand why you would. That’s why I set up the TD Jakes Foundation, where you don’t have to support my message, but you can help my mission.

And so my mission is more than my message. And so I think churches have to be creative about their organizational structure, like we’ve done, a real estate venture company, if you want to do that, or if you’re more into music, a record label. to reach the earth. Jesus did it by boat. Jesus preached his sermon in a boat. Jesus preached in the desert, but that doesn’t mean I have to live in the desert or in a boat to be effective in my calling.

RASCOE: This is Bishop TD Jakes, who is also the CEO and chairman of the TD Jakes Group. He is also the author of the forthcoming book “Disruptive Thinking”. Bishop, thank you so much for joining us.

Jacques: It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you.

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