T.D. Jakes

America's New Preacher

201 pages

3 illustrations

November, 2007

ISBN: 9780814752241



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Shayne Lee is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Houston. He is the author of T. D. Jakes and Holy Mavericks.

All books by Shayne Lee

T.D. Jakes has emerged as one of the most prolific spiritual leaders of our time. He is pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, CEO of a multimillion dollar empire, the host of a television program, author of a dozen bestsellers, and the producer of two Grammy Award-nominated CDs and three critically acclaimed plays. In 2001 Time magazine featured Jakes on the cover and asked: Is Jakes the next Billy Graham

T.D. Jakes draws on extensive research, including interviews with numerous friends and colleagues of Jakes, to examine both Jakes’s rise to prominence and proliferation of a faith industry bent on producing spiritual commodities for mass consumption. Lee frames Jakes and his success as a metaphor for changes in the Black Church and American Protestantism more broadly, looking at the ramifications of his rise—and the rise of similar preachers—for the way in which religion is practiced in this country, how social issues are confronted or ignored, and what is distinctly “American” about Jakes's emergence. While offering elements of biography, the work also seeks to shed light on important aspects of the contemporary American and African American religious experience.

Lee contends that Jakes’s widespread success symbolizes a religious realignment in which mainline churches nationwide are in decline, while innovative churches are experiencing phenomenal growth. He emphasizes the “American-ness” of Jakes’s story and reveals how preachers like Jakes are drawing followers by delivering therapeutic and transformative messages and providing spiritual commodities that are more in tune with postmodern sensibilities.

As the first work to critically examine Bishop Jakes’s life and message, T.D. Jakes is an important contribution to contemporary American religion as well as popular culture.


  • “Lee probes far beyond the rags-to-riches tale, though Bishop Jakes’ riches remain. He devotes much of the book to what he sees as Bishop Jakes' dual nature: businessman and preacher.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “A clearly written, thoughtful interrogation of the financially successful, though morally suspect, merger of business and religion achieved by this African American preacher-millionaire.”

    Choice, Recommended

  • “Shayne Lee, an assistant professor of Sociology at Tulane University, has provided us with the first critical examination of the most influential African American preacher of our time. A socio-cultural biography of sorts, the author examines T.D. Jakes rise to prominence from the hills of West Virginia to multimillion-dollar religious corporate enterprise. But this book does more than follow the development of T.D. Jakes and his ministry. As the author puts it, Jakes becomes ‘a prism through which the reader may learn more about contemporary American religion.’ Lee contends that Jakes is an embodiment of traditional American cultural ideals and the postmodern features that inform what it means to be American in this contemporary moment.”


  • “Lee offers an intriguing exploration of Jakes's popularity. His entrepreneurial spirit and multimedia approach have endeared him to millions, while his lavish lifestyle and focus on Christians' right to material prosperity continue to spark criticism. Lee avoids heavy jargon and effectively pares his study down to the essentials, making this an accessible portrait.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Most of the public knows about the Bishop T. D. Jakes who graced the cover of Time magazine, preached “Woman, Thou Art Loosed!” and filled stadiums across the country with throngs of weeping fans. But how many know about the Jakes who boasted that he didn't have enough garage space for his luxury cars, said Jesus was rich, and once tried to evict the owners of a home he had just purchased though they only had a week to pay off their debts? That portrait of Jakes comes courtesy of T. D. Jakes: America's New Preacher. Shayne Lee, a sociologist and professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, asks hard questions about Jakes' ministry.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution