Under the auspices of his church he conducts mass congregations where oceans of people gather to hear his message about self-healing and economic empowerment. He also talks about how a personal surrender to Lord Jesus Christ is the only possible way through which people could remedy their problems. T.D. Jakes is different from other prominent black leaders in that he transcends political divisions and preaches an inclusive gospel. For example, leaders like Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama belong to the Democratic Party, whereas those such as Condoleezza Rice and Alan Keyes belong to the Republican Party. By virtue of staying away from political affiliations, Bishop Jakes can appeal to people from the Left and the Right. It is this bipartisan appeal that has made him an accepted figure to hundreds of prisoners across America, who receive his inspirational messages through satellite links to their prisons. (Starling, 2001, p.109)
His international viewership is also growing each day, as he takes his Television Evangelism to Europe, Australia and Africa. In Africa, T.D. Jakes is also involved in many philanthropic projects such as construction of schools, medical facilities, irrigation and drinking water projects, etc. It is for this far-reaching influence and respect that he has earned that “he has been sought out and asked to stand with both Bill Clinton (in the aftermath of the Monica Lewinsky scandal) and George W. Bush (in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) when those presidents needed a black man of God at their side.” (Pappu, 2006, p.93)
While Bishop Jakes may not be a household name among Caucasian Americans, he is one of the most influential community leaders for blacks. In fact, he has now replaced even Jesse Jackson in terms of reach. The African-American radio host Tom Joyner, whose show reaches several million people and is broadcast on 110 stations, may speak to more black Americans on a daily basis compared to Jakes, but even he admits the latter’s level of influence. As he notes, “If you’re an African-American anywhere in this country, the chances are you’ve been touched by at least one level of his vast ministry.” (Pappu, 2006, p.92) While his popularity is at an all time high, there are aspects of his personal mission that has drawn him into controversy. One such is his espousal of what commentators call Entrepreneurial Spirituality, which promotes a message of personal prosperity.
T.D. Jakes if one of those rare religious leaders in the country, who openly brag about their wealth. Having accumulated vast amounts of wealth through his various business initiatives, Bishop Jakes flaunts his riches before his congregation as a proof of his faith. But this has attracted a lot of criticism and rebuke from liberationists, who argue that the prosperity gospel being marketed by T.D. Jakes with its focus on individual excellence ignores “the structural constraints that prevent thousands of oppressed individuals from excelling”. It further evades challenging powerful institutions and those who run them: