By Teresa Hairston
As Gospel Today caught up with Pastor Brady, she was in the midst of moving from Durham, NC to Allen, TX, which was no small feat. â€œI\’m not only a Pastor, I\’m a wife, mother and a grandmother!â€ Even so, she graciously paused to speak about this new step of purpose.
â€œBishop Jakes and I go back many, many years,â€ Pastor Brady confirmed. â€œWe\’ve probably been part of his ministry for about 19 years, since he was in West Virginia. Then, we moved to Dallas with him when he first came and stayed about two years, then went back to Durham (NC) about 11 years ago, and started The River. He\’s been my father in the Gospel and I\’ve stayed connected with him.â€
â€œSeveral months ago,â€ explained Pastor Brady, â€œBishop Jakes called me and said, â€œSheryl, I want you to pray about coming home; I\’d like to launch a Potter\’s House North in the Northern Dallas Community (The Allen, TX location is about a 45-minute drive from the mother church in Dallas).â€
â€œSo I prayed about it; and sometimes you pray and wait for all kinds of signs, but all I could hear was Bishop Jakes\’ voiceâ€”and the Lord got behind those decisions. Now we\’re here (services are currently being held at the Allen Event Center).â€
Moving hasn\’t been easy. Bishop and Pastor Brady oversee 103 pastors and have been faithful to their commitment as founders and leaders of The River Church in Durham, NC.
When asked, â€œHow does it feel to have birthed a ministry and now be moving on?â€ Pastor Brady took a deep breath. â€œNobody knows the conversations that I\’ve had with God about this,â€ she said. â€œOne thing I do know is that The River is a healthy church. I feel like Moses\’ mother who had to put the baby she birthed into a basket and place it in a river and trust that God\’s plan would prevail.â€ â€œThe basket entailed a lot. She didn\’t just throw the baby in the river. She made sure he was covered and protected and she watched him from a distance; and God faithfully brought that baby back to nurse at her breast. I know that The River is in good hands, but at the end of the day, I\’m watching it from afar. You never disconnect from what you birth. I will never be disconnected from The River.â€ Pastor Brady confirmed that Bishop Eric McDaniels (The Lord\’s Church, Bronx, NY) would be coming in to serve as pastor at The River. â€œI believe that there are things that I wasn\’t able to accomplish at The River that Bishop McDaniels will come in and be able to accomplish. That\’s the â€œexceeding greatnessâ€ of God. He never takes away, He always adds. So, I\’m looking forward to it being bigger and better than it\’s ever been, and I will give everything I can to see that that happens.â€
The purposeful connections between Bishop Jakes and the pastors who are under his leadership have already proved significant. Whereas, most churches or ministries start with a handful of members and take years to grow, Bishop Jakes is changing that paradigm. Pastor Brady confirmed that within its first month, Potter\’s House-North was al- ready seeing approximately 2500 people per weekend. She acknowledged Bishop Jakes as the reason.
â€œSo many times in our ministries, we have to start from ground zero with no mentoring,â€ explains Bishop Jakes. â€œI think a better way of doing things is to help a person get their footing and guide them through the initial stages of 21st century leadershipâ€” which requires a lot more than it did 20 years agoâ€” in terms of what it requires to get a building, staff up for ministry, and be able to launch a ministry at a level where it can immediately become functional to a community rather than waiting for years.
â€œTwo of the pastors are much younger than me, and Pastor Brady is slightly younger than me. The emphasis is on new voices that strongly reflect our values and idealsâ€”to help them grow and develop, and not to have to start from ground zero.
â€œRaising up new voices and young men and women is really the way that the church perpetuates itself. We can\’t allow our vision to die with our generation. To launch these new voices from our platform is a part of why God gave us the platform in the first placeâ€”to be able to empower other people.
â€œSeveral years ago, I wrote a book titled, â€œReposition Yourself.â€ Every living thing, whether it\’s a marriage, a person, an organization or a church has to reposition itself in order to remain functional. As we grow older and our constituencies grow older, we should all be concerned about empowering the next generation.â€ Bishop Jakes\’ insight and wisdom could prove pivotal for many young ministers and aspiring ministry leaders. How- ever, he underlines the word â€œrelationshipâ€ as the key to healthy growth.
â€œMy philosophy is that the Potter\’s House brand and logo has to perpetuate itself through genuine relationships. So, our focus is not on developing more churches, its on developing strong, trustworthy relationships.