John Gray, Lakewood Church
“Preach Christ. He is the hope of the world.”
That is the statement and life’s calling of John W. Gray III. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, John accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at seven years old at Bethel Baptist Church under the pastorate of Dr. Wayne Davis. The product of two musically gifted parents, John showed an early affinity for music and was directing the choir at seven years old. His passion for music and the arts was evident throughout his formative as he was a part of every theatrical production at church and at school.
After graduating from Withrow High School in 1991, John accepted an academic scholarship to The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio where he continued to pursue music and acting. A sudden and devastating illness to John’s beloved grandmother at the beginning of his sophomore year caused John to lose focus on his academics and he subsequently flunked out of school after that semester. Derailed temporarily, John headed home to seek direction and clarity for his next move. He subsequently enrolled in The University of Cincinnati and became a part of the traveling Gospel Choir that represented the school around the country. While home, John heeded the call to the preached ministry on the Sunday of his 21st birthday at Bethel Baptist Church and preached his first sermon that September. His life would never be the same. Not long after accepting the call to preach the Gospel, John was asked to be a cast member in a touring stage play starring Grammy Award winning Gospel artist Kirk Franklin and The Family. From there, God began to open doors that would allow John to serve God while utilizing the gifts of music, comedy and preaching that God had given him.
After touring with Kirk Franklin, John’s heart led him to participate in a musical tour whose purpose was to eliminate racism and create equality in the Body of Christ. The tour was headlined by DC Talk, Out of Eden and The Katinas. It was clear to John that God wanted him to be a bridge builder and that comedy would be a gateway to bring the Body of Christ together. After that tour, in September of 2000, John accepted his first Youth Pastor’s position at The First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey under the leadership of DeForest Soaries. It was while youth pastoring in New Jersey that John felt that he had found the call of God on his life: impact youth and young adults with the Word of God through music, comedy and preaching-all at the same time. To this day, John continues to defy description and labels by seamlessly integrating worship, laughter, preaching, exhortation and encouragement into one package.
Not content to simply be known as a singular gift, John uses all the gifts God has given him to reach people with hope, healing, forgiveness and freedom found in Jesus Christ. From directing, producing or co-producing award winning films, releasing two musical albums, a comedy DVD and appearing on hit T.V. shows “Sister, Sister” and “Tyler Perry’s The House of Payne”, John is determined to show that you can use every gift God has given you to build the Kingdom of God and bless people.
As an in demand speaker, John has traveled the world sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom in his unique and uncompromising way. From South Africa to Australia and many places in between, God has taken John around the world to speak to youth, young adults, entire churches, conferences and camps to say one thing in many ways: Jesus Saves and He loves you with an everlasting love!
He was ordained an Elder at Northview Christian Church in Dothan, AL in March of 2010. John currently serves as an Associate Pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas under the leadership of Pastor Joel Osteen. Wherever God takes John here and into the future, he is determined to serve with passion, humility and power.
John is quick to acknowledge that although he is grateful for the places God has taken him and the ministries that have opened their doors to him, nothing compares to the joy of his life, His wife of two and a half years Aventer, their son John W. Gray IV, and their newborn daughter, Theory Aspyn-Sky Gray.
Aventer Gray, Lakewood Church
Aventer serves alongside her husband John Gray at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.
Aventer is multilayered with expertise in healthcare as well as numerous forms of the arts. Of the many gifts God invested in Aventer, her prevailing passion is dance. Aventer seeks to bring glory to God through marrying the technical aspects of dance with the spirit filled expression of that gift submitted to The Word. It was through this passion that God opened multiple doors in her life and also introduced her to the love of her life. While serving in ministry, Aventer met a fellow artistically inclined individual and the two hit it off immediately. After a year of friendship and courtship, the young man proposed. And Aventer Cotton became Mrs. John Gray III. In less than four years, God has multiplied the Gray family immensely. They have two children, John IV and Theory Aspyn-Sky. Aventer serves along side her husband John, who is an associate pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. She speaks often for the Women’s Ministry, the Singles, and has taught with her husband in the marriage ministry as well as traveled to speak for multiple youth conferences over the past 12 years.
Aventer is now the Director of Lakewood’s new Dance Ministry and is honored to offer technical classes to ages 4 to 100, training in multiple genres of dance.