T. D. Jakes has the type of church problems most preachers crave. The Potter's House has recently added 1,000 parking spaces, hired nine off-duty Dallas police officers to control traffic, and put a full-time minister on staff just to handle new members.
The nationally televised 40-year-old preacher and author bought a 5,000-seat church building in Dallas 18 months ago. Now the Potter's House has grown to more than 14,000 worshipers, including Dallas Cowboys stars Deion Sanders and Emmitt Smith, both baptized in October.
Gary Johnston, director of Church Growth Network in Temecula, California, says the Potter's House is one of the nation's fastest-growing megachurches. "It's phenomenal growth," says Johnston, noting that other megachurches such as Saddleback Valley Community Church in Mission Viejo, California, and Willow Creek in South Barrington, Illinois, took several years to become so large.
The Potter's House bought 34 hilltop acres of southwest Dallas for $3.2 million from evangelist W. V. Grant, recently released from prison.
While the complex is large enough for worship services, there has been some trouble juggling space for ministries, including Bible studies, drug- and alcohol-abuse programs, prison ministries, feeding the homeless, tutoring for students, faith-based weight-loss programs, emergency counseling, and job training.
Jakes is a leader and elected bishop of the Higher Ground Always Abounding Assembly, a nine-year-old fellowship of about 200 Pentecostal churches. He is the author of 15 books, including the best-selling Woman, Thou Art Loosed and his new cookbook, Lay Aside the Weight. In addition, his program Get Ready is seen three times each week on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Black Entertainment ...1