ORLANDO, Fla. — Megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, charged Wednesday that it's corporations and not elected officials that represent "the greatest hope" in effecting change and development in underserved communities across America. He said, however, that they need to "add a moral component to money" to make it happen.
"We need corporations to add a moral component to money," said Jakes, to a group of pastors and Christian leaders at the Reconciled Church Summit on Wednesday. The movement was launched in response to national protests against the killings by police of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, by Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, televangelist James Robison, and Jakes in January.
"Starbucks is trying to do it. … If we can tie morality to money, to a purpose, to resources, we can really begin to change things. I don't really believe that the greatest hope is in the elected officials. I believe it is in the corporations and the business opportunities coming together," he continued.
Jakes, who's also a respected businessman, will host what is billed as America's largest inspirational festival, MegaFest from Aug. 20–22, and understands how economic stimulation can affect communities. MegaFest 2013, which attracted more than 75,000 attendees from 20 states and 31 countries, resulted in an estimated $41 million economic impact on the downtown Dallas business district.
"I refuse to believe that it is cheaper to outsource your business to foreign countries than it is to clean up bad neighborhoods in our own city. It's got to be cheaper to come back home. And the excuse that I hear from the private sector and corporations is — there is too much drugs, there is too much crime, there is too much violence. And I bought that for years until I saw them move into Mexico surrounded by the cartels," explained the Dallas preacher.
"I thought: if you can survive the cartels, you can survive the ghetto. … I need you to create opportunities where business people can bring people like us into their settings to talk to them about what they are missing about the community process. And again, it is an expensive loss not to upgrade people and invest back into the community that you hope to market your products to," added Jakes.
Robison who sat with both Jakes and Jackson on a panel discussing a range of factors affecting the reconciliation of the American church agreed.
"I spend a tremendous amount of my time with the upper class business leaders. The free market thinkers who understand the principles essential to keep the free market stable — and it's not corporate cronyism in bed with the federal government," said Robison.
"That is as absolutely repulsive as anything on the planet, but you are never going to overcome poverty without prosperity. And you're never gonna have prosperity without personal responsibility, a word that I think is an entrepreneurial ability that God gives to individuals," he continued.
Using the Koch brothers as an example, Robison charged that government was hampering the ability of big businesses to be productive.
"I am meeting the people and seeing one side of the liberal world who think the Koch brothers are [among] the meanest people on the planet. I got news for you, they are not. I want to see them come to know Christ, personally, if they don't. And I'm after them for Jesus. I want to tell you something, they care, they want to spend everything they've got because they would like to help you," said Robison.
"They want honest people working for them. I know these business leaders, they don't want to be in bed with government, they want to be set free to be productive. But they also need that someone like me to tell them they've got that personal responsibility to take their entrepreneurial skills to young people that don't have a father like I did and give them hope and show them a future," he continued.
"All of you, the very many downtrodden and overlooked, you can't see the free market in the United States as the problem or you will literally destroy the golden goose that lays the golden egg that is central for your future," he said.
Jakes further chimed in on pastors who think it's wrong to talk about money at the pulpit.
"It is easy for pastors who pastor in bedroom communities with upper level incomes to say you shouldn't talk about money in the pulpit. But if you're gonna pastor underserved communities you absolutely must talk about money. … And we have to talk about this, because the lack of resources is the catalyst through which a lot of these crimes are committed because people need to understand business," said Jakes.
"If we are really going to be missionaries we can't just give people a salvation card and brag about how many people we won to Jesus when coming to Christ put them out of business. You have to provide alternate resources for those people to have hope and translate those opportunities into tangible results. And you have to do it from the pulpit if you're are gonna get out there to where they are," he noted.
"In our community the pulpit is the press. Our pulpit is the press, and whether you want to believe it or not your politicians believe it because they stop by the pulpit on the way to the polls. So you might as well wake up to the fact that there are people who read the headlines of the pastor's mouth. And for that person who has given their life to Christ — and they are no longer in prostitution and they are no longer selling drugs — you have to have a message of hope, and it has to be practical to millennials and it has to have a business component in it," Jakes asserted.
"So as we critique each other about etiquette, and you get down on ground level zero of actually working in these communities rather than just passing out turkeys once a year, you will find out that the Gospel causes people to have hope and have life. But if we don't have a plan, they go right back to where they came from because it's hard to be happy and joyous when you cannot feed your children," he said.