Churches_5 Chief Operating Officer Darwin Bruce of The Potters House of Dallas. photography by Elizabeth Lavin

The Potters House of Dallas

Members: 30,000
Staff: 400
Budget: $20 million, church; $30 million, overall

Potters House enior pastor T.D. Jakes is probably the best-known preacher in North Texas. He travels nationally and internationally and has become famous for his movies, best-selling books, and sold-out conferences.

But it’s up to Dallas lawyer-turned-chief operating officer Darwin Bruce to oversee and separate the projects from the super-charged to the spiritual.

Says Bruce, who got his law degree from Southern Methodist University and owned his own company before joining Potters House: “Bishop Jakes has a for-profit company [TDJ Enterprises] which does his books and movies, etc., while the church operates as a nonprofit to spread hope and opportunity to Dallas and the world.”

Bruce oversees the massive Potters House facility in South Dallas, which began here in 1996 and moved into its multimillion-dollar worship facility four years later.

“Our motivation is to support the community, not to make money,” Bruce says. “The biggest difference between corporations and churches is that the church is mission-driven, not profit-driven.”

That doesn’t mean Potters House was immune from the tough financial times that have hit most businesses and churches over the last three years.

“We restructured departments and consolidated vendor support. We had to make sure we ran a very tight ship,” Bruce says. “In 2008 we had some layoffs and did not hire anyone. It is so important for us to manage cash flow and expenses.

“We have to be more transparent with our large-size church,” he adds. “We have to be upfront in saying, ‘This is what we are spending your money on.’”