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Social Media and the Pentecostal Church

The main leaders of Bethel church are generally considered to be Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton. Bill Johnson possesses 389 thousand[43] followers on Facebook and Kris 230 thousand.[44] Despite the fact that they are representatives of the same ministry, their approach to social media is significantly different. Whereas Bill Johnson takes a more passive approach to social media, posting quotes and different encouraging messages, Kris Vallotton actively engages with his follower by posting provocative messages and then actively engaging with the commenters. This creates a very different atmosphere on his Facebook page. Commenters know they are free to disagree with Vallotton’s political or theological statements, but that he will frequently respond to dissidents with counter arguments.

Image: J. Silas

T.D. Jakes Ministries and the associated Potter House attract a significant amount of attention on social media sites, both negative and positive. Jake’s Ministries Facebook page has 4.8 million subscribers with the majority of his posts being reposted by followers over a thousand times. Illustrating that his social media presence is significantly wider than even his substantial subscriber base. His Facebook account is extremely active with his account posting multiple times a day. The frequency and polish of his account lends itself to the theory that like Osteen’s page, it is being managed by someone other than T.D. Jake himself.

One of T.D. Jake’s Twitter account is tagged “TDJakesShow” demonstrating that like Bethel’s social media outlets there is multiple departments operating under the brand name of T.D. Jakes Ministries. This account hosts a bare 10 thousand[45] whereas the Twitter account “BishopJakes” possesses 2.1 million followers[46]. The Potter’s House presence on Twitter is somewhat limited as there is no single hub for the church network. Instead, local churches are allowed to host their own individual accounts. The largest is Potter’s House Dallas with 35 thousand[47] followers. Another larger page is Potter’s House Fort Worth Texas with 3 thousand[48] followers. Although these numbers are fairly sizable, they are slight in comparison to the 4.9 million[49] followers T.D. Jake possesses on Facebook. Leading to the conclusion that so far neither T.D. Jakes nor the Potter’s House have made a significant push to enlarge their presence on Twitter.

There are other notable deficiencies in the ministries’ presence on social media. One example is that the T.D. Jake’s Facebook page possess a broken link to their YouTube outlet,[50] leading to some confusion as to which of the numerous T.D. Jakes YouTube accounts is the official outlet. This author after a prolonged search finds that the most likely YouTube account possesses just under 150 thousand subscribers,[51] again, a small fraction of the 4.9 million Facebook subscribers. Despite this small base, large number of T.D. Jake fans have posted their own videos of T.D. Jakes. Giving his ministry a significant presence on YouTube despite its official subscriber based being somewhat limited.

The confusion surrounding the various accounts claiming to be T.D. Jakes is something the official organization admits on its Facebook account. A video is prominently displayed that depicts an older woman logging on to Facebook using a computer her granddaughter bought her. The women begins speaking to a friend over Skype when she receives a message from T.D. Jakes Ministries requesting a donation. The women starts to respond when her friend advises her that T.D. Jakes Ministries and the Potter’s House will never ask for donations over social media. The video then tells the viewer that there are only three official Facebook outlet pages, T.D. Jake Ministries, The Potter’s House Dallas (129 thousand followers[52]), and First Lady Serita Jakes (331 thousand[53]). This leaves some ambiguity as to whether the Potter’s House Denver or another given city church is a valid outlet of a local church or if such outlets are discouraged by T.D. Jake Ministries.

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Category: Fall 2017, In Depth, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kyle Smith has an M.A. in Christian History & Theology from George Fox University and is a currently working on a Ph.D. in the Religious department of Rice University. His master’s thesis focused on the relationship between Pentecostal epistemology and institutional stability. He has presented on social media, ecclesiology, epistemology, and religious economics.

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