In 1980, at age 23, Jakes became the pastor of Greater Emanuel Temple of Faith, a storefront church in Smithers, West Virginia with ten members. The congregation grew to encompass 100 members and was notable because it was racially integrated.
In 1990 Jakes moved to South Charleston, West Virginia, and his congregation grew again, to 300 members. In 1993 he moved to Cross Lanes, West Virginia, where the congregation grew to more than 1,100 people, of whom 60 percent were African American and 40 percent were Caucasian.
In 1994 T.D. Jakes Ministries was established as a non-profit organization that produced televised sermons and conferences. From 1995 to 1996, Jakes hosted “Get Ready,” a weekly radio and television show with national distribution through syndication.
In 1996 Jakes, his wife, children, and a staff of 50 employees relocated to Dallas, Texas, where Jakes founded the Potter’s House, a non-denominational megachurch. Located on a 34-acre hilltop campus, the Potter’s House features a 5,000-seat auditorium, as well as offices for employees and staff. Between 1996 and 1998, church membership grew from 7,000 congregants to 14,000.
In 2005 Jakes accompanied President George W. Bush on his visit to the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In his book Decision Points, President Bush describes Jakes as “a kind of man who puts faith into action.”
On January 20, 2009, Jakes led the early morning prayer service for President Barack Obama at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., according to NBC News.
In 2009, Jakes partnered with Dr. Phil McGraw, Jay McGraw, and CBS Television Distribution to launch a syndicated, secular talk show; however, due to economic issues within the syndicated television market, the program never premiered.
In July 2015, Tegna, Inc. and Debmar-Mercury announced that a new secular talk show hosted by Jakes would air as a test run on Tegna stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, and Minneapolis from August 17 to September 11, 2015.