Posted on : Thursday June 4, 2020

“We need Nehemiahs as much as we need Ezras.”

Listen in as Dr. Smith and Pastor John Jenkins of FBC Glenarden discuss cultural engagement, Paul/Timothy Relationships, and unity in the Kingdom of God.

Transcript

Dr. Smith:
Welcome to Peculiar People Podcast that helps us to think about what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ in our present day. We are focused on Peter’s words, where he says, “We are a peculiar people, a Holy nation, a chosen generation, and that we should show forth the praises of him who has brought us from darkness into the marvelous light.” We try to think about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the times in which we live. Today, we are honored to have Pastor John Jenkins with us, who is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden here in Maryland. I’m a native of Prince George’s County where the church is situated, so I am a long, have admired, and thank the Lord for his ministry.

Dr. Smith:
I will date us both. He became the pastor of First Baptist Glenarden in 1989 when I was graduating from Hampton University, more than 30 years ago. As a young adult, I lived in New York City, but I would come home and sneak in on his ministry. I’ve been to several locations, pastor. I’m embarrassed to say I’m older and my memory is fading. I’ve just not been to different places. I’ve been to a white building, I’ve been to a strip mall down from Landover Mall. I’ve been to a variety of places. We thank the Lord for you. I’ve heard you preach in a lot of venues, and we thank the Lord for consistent faithfulness. Two things I really admire about you, and one reason I wanted to speak to you, three things. One is pastoral longevity, and we will get into that. Obviously, I just mentioned, you have past 30 years of service at your local congregation.

Dr. Smith:
Another thing is Paul/Timothy relationships. I really learn more about you as I get to know a young brother, Bobby Manning, and your discipleship and mentoring and Paul/Timothy interaction in his life. Then thirdly, I just like Cool Brothers. I ride a Harley-Davidson and I get a lot of comments when I pull up to churches to preach, but I’ve taught for over 15 years at Southern Seminary. When I was living in Louisville, I went to hear you preach at a church, and you flew to Louisville to preach at this congregation. You put the Harley guys in their place. You said, “Look, I’m going to fly to the church.” For variety of reasons, I am thanking the Lord for [inaudible 00:02:57] the interview Pastor John Jenkins today.

Dr. Smith:
I do want to talk about those things, pastor. First of all, we always ask every person, how did you become a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Pastor Jenkins:
Thank you, first of all, Dr. Smith for those very kind words. I appreciate your honor that you extend, I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you for all those nice things you said about me. I’m grateful. My mother took me to church as a child. Matter of fact, she took me to First Baptist Church of Glenarden as a young kid, 10 or 11 years old. I grew up in church, but that’s not what made me follow Jesus. Some way, during that journey, I recognized that there was something missing in my life, that religiousness or religiosity, I don’t even know if that’s a word, wasn’t satisfying. I was at a revival in Washington, D.C., and decided that, in spite of the fact that I was a member of a church, I was an usher, I sang in the choir, there was something missing, and I went forward to receive the Lord Jesus in my life. That is the time that I stick the pin in, in my conversion and my transformation and my commitment to Jesus Christ.

Dr. Smith:
Amen. Your testimony reminds me that, when I was a teenager and I got my license, you could hear a revival preaching in Washington, D.C., every week of the year. You really had multiple options, whether you want it to be in Northeast or Northwest or Southeast.

Pastor Jenkins:
Absolutely. You’re exactly right. That is so true. You’re right.

Dr. Smith:
Wow. Looking back what a joy to have experienced that era of gospel preaching. Well, I want to ask you as a follower of Jesus Christ, I had planned to ask you how you have been processing the last 12 weeks since we’d been locked down with COVID-19. But also, as I mentioned earlier to you, I also just want to ask you, how have you been feeling maybe based upon the last three weeks. You are a seasoned and experienced pastor, and you have a multi-generational church that I’m going to ask you about. I’m in my 50s and I’m talking to a lot of followers of Jesus in I’m black and white, and they’re in their 20s and their 30s and they are tremendous, number one, there’s trauma.

Dr. Smith:
Just when you have something like a global pandemic, now on top of that, the things that have been happening in our country in the last three weeks. I was just wondering, even if we could just open with you saying a pastoral word to either discouraged saints or just to be all the way open, even angry saints, even though the barbershops are closed, I still get to interact with a lot of young black men, and there’s just a lot of anger. I wonder maybe as a disciple of Jesus Christ and experienced pastor, how would you maybe share a word with people feeling like that?

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah. I’m assuming you’re asking me about the Minnesota situation.

Dr. Smith:
Yes, sir.

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah, I’m angry about it too. That’s a light word when I say angry. Not just in Minnesota, but the string of events like this that have gone on for the past several years. I’m angry, first of all, about the silence of the evangelical community that never says anything about it, never speaks up to what’s social injustice is. I’m disturbed by the pastors and preachers and tele evangelists who try to downplay social justice issues. The Bible is clear on this. This is no question about whether God stands up for injustice. For some of these pastors and a Bible teacher to downplay it and try to dismiss it is extremely troubling, very bothersome. Then to see, isn’t that just the George Floyd situation?

Pastor Jenkins:
So many of these cases where unarmed black men are killed, strangled to death, a knee on the throat to death, a shot in the back thing. Just a law enforcement badge does not give you a license to kill people. We expect more from our law enforcement people. Quite frankly, as a pastor, I expect more from the preachers of our day that they ought to be standing up for what’s right and what is righteousness, and speak against injustice. It’s very troubling, but what I say to my church and what I would say to all Americans, the great thing about living in America is that we have an opportunity to cast our vote and put in office people who will stand up for those matters, people who will ensure that the laws of our land are reflective of what’s right and what’s just.

Pastor Jenkins:
Instead of rioting and burning down buildings and stores in your own community, let’s garner ourselves together and let’s work to make sure that we have righteous people in positions of decision and influence.

Dr. Smith:
Amen. I’ve been encouraging pastors. I said there is no position that has as much unilateral discretion as a local district attorney. I said, when y’all go to these youth revivals and youth camps, I said, you should encourage people to be missionaries and ministers. We should also encourage people to be lawyers and to be people who influence … We need Nehemiahs as much as we need Ezras. We’ve got a really enable saints to see that as a salt light way to be a disciple of Christ in this present world.

Pastor Jenkins:
Absolutely. Thank you for that. I agree with you 100%, definitely.

Dr. Smith:
Now, you said you went to a revival and the Lord convicted you and you became serious about that, but that has happened to a lot of people and they might be a teacher or engineer or whatever. What is the journey from, I am a serious follower of Jesus Christ to, I think I might be feeling called to vocational ministry?

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah. Fortunately, as a young man, I began to get discipled right after my conversion. I began to be discipled, and that discipleship grew. I wasn’t discipled by one person, but by a multitude of people from various organizations that I was involved with or had relationships with, and that blossomed into me, as a teenager, actually sharing the gospel with my childhood friends on the corner of the streets, talking about the Bible, walking up and down sharing the gospel with people. I didn’t even know what I was doing. I just was passionate about something on my heart. The way the call to ministry manifested for me is I would be in church listening to the pastor preach. My friends would sit next to me laughing and joking and writing little notes and scribblings and stuff.

Pastor Jenkins:
I felt that I could take the message that I understood that the pastor was saying and put it in words that they would understand. That’s how it began for me is hearing the message of the pastor, putting it in the format, in a language that I could explain to them. We’d talk about it afterwards. We’d walk home, or we’d play in football talking about it or sitting on the corner of the street, talking about it. That’s how my call matured until it reached a place where I went to my pastor and felt that this was in fact God’s assignment for my life.

Dr. Smith:
Oh, my goodness. I’m over here tingling because, in sharing your call, you were describing Nehemiah Chapter 8, when Ezra would read the law and then there’d be other people out amongst the people to translate it for them and make sure they understood. Wow. That is a fascinating testimony. Well, praise the Lord for that. Then, I know in your bio, you serve one particular congregation, and then you were in Virginia, and then you were called to First Baptist. 30 years, there’s been a lot of phases. Here in the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, we have numerous congregations, and we constantly have congregations that are replacing their pastors, as pastors retire and things like that. I ask this question two ways. What might you say to a brother in his first five years of a pastoring a congregation, or secondly, I would say, what does the 30 plus year experience pastor of First Baptist Glenarden, what would you say to yourself 30 years ago?

Pastor Jenkins:
Well, I have fortunately made right choices during the course of my pastor that I’m grateful for. One of them is, walking slow. I think a lot of pastors are too aggressive and they move too quickly. I would tell pastors, first of all, walk slow. Number two, I would say, and this right here is worth a million dollars, if I can get all of the young pastors to recognize this point I’m making here. It’s not rocket science, but it’s just a truth, is any change that you seek to make, teach it before you make the change. Teach it and make sure everybody understands why you’re making the change, what’s the motive for the change, what’s the biblical precept for the change. I made a lot of changes at First Baptist church of Glenarden.

Pastor Jenkins:
30 years ago before the Sunday I came. Didn’t show up to the last Sunday. You wouldn’t recognize the church other than for the people who were there 30 years ago, that are still there today. That’s the only way you would know it’s the same church. It has significantly changed. Over the course of those 30 years, we’ve made a multitude of changes, and each change I have made, I have taught about it and taught about it and taught about it before I made the change, I’ve gone around and made sure people understood the change. I had always had a biblical precept for any change that we’ve made, and every one, we pointed them to the scriptures to say, here’s why we’re make the change. Here’s a biblical precept we want to now put in place. The other thing I did about that as well, is I never sought to diminish or downplay the previous leaders in any change that I made.

Pastor Jenkins:
I didn’t try to say that they were wrong or this is right and they will wrong. I never presented it that way. I just said, as we mature and go to different levels, we have to make certain adjustments and certain changes to be more in line with our understanding of scriptures and to be able to function in the way that God wants us to function. I taught it, taught it. The more difficult the change, the longer the teaching. When you start making constitutional changes, when you made constitutional changes, when you make those kinds of changes, they take a little bit longer. It’s not just a one to two-week Bible teaching, it’s going to take a whole lot more time and people processing and understanding and communicating. I think this is where most pastors mess up.

Pastor Jenkins:
They try to move too quickly. They don’t do the teaching. They disregard how people feel. Let me give a little story real quick. When I was pastoring in Virginia, King George Virginia, by the way, that’s halfway between Richmond and Washington D.C.

Dr. Smith:
Is that on 301?

Pastor Jenkins:
Yes, sir.

Dr. Smith:
Yeah. Cross the bridge. Yeah.

Pastor Jenkins:
Eight miles on the bridge. When I got to the bridge, I had eight miles to ago. I saw that the artificial flowers were fading and the full of dust, and they needed to be changed. I told some people in the church, let’s get some fresh flowers in here. Let’s replace these flowers. What I didn’t know is that those flowers were put there by the grandmother of one of our members, and she herself was 70 or 80 years old. They’ve been there for years, decades. She took offense at the fact that I changed out those flowers.

Pastor Jenkins:
It was the beginning of a contentious endeavor just because I changed out the flowers. As I look back at it, if I had asked her to change it. I said, “Let’s honor your mother and your grandmother who bought these flowers. I’m sure she wouldn’t want to see these faded, the colors all gone and they’re drooping. These flowers, they’re plastic, but they … I’m sure your grandmother would want us to do something a little bit fresher and maybe if we put a plaque on it with her name on it.” See, those are the things I would have done differently if I had to do it over again. I would have asked her to do it, if I had known.

Pastor Jenkins:
I would have put a plaque with her name on it in memory of grandmother, Johnson, I would have put that on there as opposed to me just telling anybody and go ahead and change out those flowers. They need to be changed out. Over time, I’ve learned, there’s so many things that I would do differently if I had to do it over again. When you make a change, who is it going to impact? When you make a change who might take offense? If you take a change, who might get angry. You got to take those kinds of things into consideration as a wise pastor.

Dr. Smith:
It seems like you are discussing communication. I think many times leaders, not just pastors, but many leaders are too lights on communication, and the people who are supposedly following their leadership are not sufficiently informed. It also seems like you’re addressing issues of collaboration. Sometimes I think leaders, particularly pastors don’t realize, when I say pastors, again, I’m asking this question in the context of newer pastors. Many of those members that have been there for a while have insight and wisdom that can be a blessing to you. Even if I’m seminary trained and I’m a 26-year-old pastor, I think I can be blessed by a brother that’s been walking with the Lord for 50 years and he’s been a deacon for 28 years. As a seminary professor, I have been burdened over the last few decades, just with the low relational IQ, I think some people have who are assuming pastoral leadership.

Dr. Smith:
I realize, everybody wants to the Mdiv to be 90 hours and not 120 hours, but relationships and human equity is certainly something that gets left on the floor. Do you see in those books what they don’t teach you in seminary? Sometimes relational IQ is really missing. Now, I’m a strong Ephesians 4:11 guy, equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. Well, then there’s a certain interaction that you have with the saints that’s important and you were called by God, you felt the call of God. I’m assuming you felt comfortable being in that role, being called by God. Sometimes I think God has failed to interact with the saints in a helpful way, because they’re insecure, they always need to feel like they’re the smartest guy in the room.

Dr. Smith:
I’ve built several buildings. I haven’t built as many buildings as you, but I’ve built several buildings, and I was always happy to be the preacher. The guy that I made the chairman of the building committee really was the chairman of the building committee. I’ve never built anything. I didn’t feel any insecurity to be like, people need to know I’m leading this. No, they can tell me, Watson is building this building. Y’all, I’m a pastor. How has collaboration and interaction with, I don’t like this term, but lay leaders, our brothers and sisters in the congregation affected your leadership?

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah. Everything you just said, Dr. Smith, is right on. You hitting the nail right on the head with the hammer, that God is a relational God, and everything about what he wants us to do is based on relationships, everything I’ve done, every place I’ve gone, every experience I’ve had was birthed out of some strong relationship that I had with people. It always starts right where you’re serving. You have to build relationships with the people that you have. In the book of Joshua, when Joshua led the people from where they were to the promised land, what is crystal clear to me is, as they took the journey along, there were relationship issues that took place. There were things that they had to do with relationship. Maybe, in fact, with people that they would not have normally had relationships with.

Pastor Jenkins:
They sent out spies that went to the wall and saw a Rahab there. Rahab is not a woman that they would have spent any time with normally, but they encountered her, stayed at her home, build a relationship with her so much so that when they came back, she put that scarlet out the window. It’s all relationship based. One point, when the children of Israel started possessing the lion, Joshua said to the people, it took several of the tribes. Y’all got your property now, you’ve got your land. Now, let’s go back and help the others get their land. It’s not all about you. It’s about relationships and helping others get to where God wants them to be, and be what God wants them to be. You have to do that by the building and development of relationships.

Dr. Smith:
Amen. Something I’ve noticed about First Baptist Glenarden. You got many names. I won’t any names, but I have good amount of classmates from Hampton that attend First Baptist.

Pastor Jenkins:
Is that the real you or the real HU or the HU, which one is that?

Dr. Smith:
Is the one that ain’t broke. Is that one. We were blessed with just a dynamic leader, Dr. William Harvey, a very business minded approach to educational leadership. If I talk to my friends or I talk to anybody, their older brothers and sisters there, their middle-aged brothers and sisters there, their younger brothers and sisters there. My work consulting churches, a lot of churches that need revitalization. Sometimes you go into a congregation and everyone is younger, or sometimes you go in a congregation and everyone is older. How have you led, what I’ll call a multi-generational church? It appears that way to me from the outside, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but when I’m looking at videos or I’m doing anything, I see people in First Baptist that are 18 and they’re engaged in your preaching.

Dr. Smith:
Then I see people that look like they’re 80, and they’re engaged in your preaching. How have you thought about multi-generational leadership over the years?

Pastor Jenkins:
That, Dr. Smith, is a great question because it is a fine art. It does take some deliberateness as it’ll happen naturally. There are several things we’ve tried to do. Number one is we try to show healthy respect and honor to the senior congregants that we have. We don’t push them to the side. We don’t ignore them. We revere them. We honor them. We salute them. We serve them. We give God thanks for the service they’ve given to our community. We have a banquet for them every year to recognize their contribution to the community and to the church. We just give them a place of honor. That’s the best way I know how to put it. We give them honor. Then, for the younger generation, we give them a voice. We give them space on the agenda. We give them a place at the table.

Pastor Jenkins:
We let them sit at the table. We allow them to participate in the service. In some cases, they run the service. We have a youth service where all the young people, once a month, are in charge of reading scriptures and saying the prayer. We have a young adult contingency that they have a young adult service. We give them a voice at the table. That’s the best thing I can say. We allow them to give their opinion, their thoughts, and in some cases, the power to make decisions. To me, that’s the key to getting all levels of age, all ages involved and engaged in ministry.

Dr. Smith:
Amen. I’m always trying to encourage guys to think long term. That is one positive trend. Probably, I would say the last decade seminary in my classroom, they desired to plant themselves somewhere and see the Lord work. Whereas, when I was in my 20s and 30s, sometimes they were statistics. I think these are largely Southern Baptist statistics, when they were statistics of an average pastorate being 18 to 24 months sometimes. Guys seem to be much more planted, but with 30 years of ministry, 30 plus years, would you speak about just the, I hope the existential joy of marrying people and then helping them raise their kids, and then baptizing their kids., and then the people you’ve married, you’re doing weddings for their kids. Would you just talk about some of the personal dynamics of being planted in a congregation a long time?

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah. That’s the fulfillment and the joy of being a pastor. Over the years, I look back and there so many experiences I’ve had with people. See, I’m actually pastoring the church I grew up in. Something of these people I’ve known for a lifetime. I’ve started pastoring people who were once my Sunday school teacher. When I was a small kid in church, Deacon Walton was my Sunday school teacher. Now, I have fresh memories in my mind of him telling me, “Sit down, John Jenkins.” Now, in meetings, I say, “Sit down, Deacon Walton.” What’s funny is he’s already sitting down. He’s not even standing, but there’s some kind of fulfillment I get from just being able to say, “Sit down, Deacon Walton.” Those relationships, again, it goes back to relationships that lasts a lifetime. It’s a lifetime journey. You’re right. I’ve buried people’s grandparents.

Pastor Jenkins:
I’ve buried people that I grew up with. When I was a teenager, we had a saint group, and it was John Jenkins and the saint stumpers. We actually changed the name from that. But I’ve buried a lot of those people that I grew up with. I saw them get married and have their kids. I don’t even know how to describe the lifetime. That’s the call of the pastor. I thought I was going to be an evangelist, and I would just go preach and pick up my check and my head and coat and leave. But that’s not what it was. I turned out to be a pastor. It’s been quite a journey of joy.

Dr. Smith:
Amen. Well, you know what? I try to encourage pastors about long-term ministry, but also try to be real with pastors. I wonder if you’d be comfortable in maybe sharing some challenges. I always tell my seminary classes, I would say, I love pastoring, but pastoring has heavy or dark parts as well. I think the worst thing in my pastoral ministry has been ministering to a couple that had some stillborn twins. At that moment, obviously they want their pastor … I pastored in Kentucky, so it’s down homey approach. They want their pastor there. That was just probably one of the darkest things being in that room with that couple praying and trying to give hope and all those kinds of things and a stillborn situation.

Dr. Smith:
Then secondly, it’s always been challenging for me just because it’s so unnatural when something tragic happens and I have to walk with parents burying a child. For the natural course is for the children to bury their parents. Also, just two things. I try to give guys a real picture. I’ve pastored churches that have loved me. I’ve not had a lot of fights in churches, but I can identify just some things of pastoral ministry that are like tremendously hard. Those are two things that I share with guys. Maybe you would say, over 30 years, I’m sure there’s been some challenges. I always like to just try to give guys a balanced view of pastoral ministry.

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah. I think pastor that, what I would say to pastors is that I have been confronted, like you said, with a lot of these experiences. What I’ve tried and what I do understand is I don’t have to try to be God in those circumstances. I don’t have to try to provide an answer for why, I don’t do that. I think the most important thing that pastors can do in devastating situations is just to be present. That’s the most powerful thing. Just be there. You don’t have to give an answer, you don’t have to give them some scriptural exposition on what God is saying. No, just your presence means so much.

Pastor Jenkins:
I have walked into hospitals, rooms where they know the person’s about to die, and they’ve got equipment all strapped up all around him with the family, just crying. I didn’t feel the need to come in and try to be God. I didn’t have to try to step in and try to give an answer, just be present. I had a couple, the same, like you just said, whose baby they baby was born, that the baby was deformed, severely deformed, and wouldn’t probably live. The baby had no brain. So, the baby wouldn’t live for a long time, and the baby lived for six hours. Just being there, I would say this to pastors, cry with those who cry and rejoice with those who rejoice. If you can learn how to do that, if you can learn how to grieve with people when they’re grieving and then celebrate with people, when they’re celebrating, that’s the key, and you’re going to have those ups and downs.

Pastor Jenkins:
Then the other thing I would say, pastor, it is important that pastors figure out what they need to do to reenergize themselves and to keep themselves refueled and not burnout and not get depressed because there’s so many things you can experience that can make you get depressed [inaudible 00:28:38] and be flying. Flying was one of those things that helped take my stress off. Every pastor, you didn’t ask me this question, I’m giving this answer here. Every pastor needs to have something that they do totally away from ministry that they can look forward to doing, they take their mind off of the stress of pastoring. For me, that’s flying. When I get in the air, I think nothing about a Bible study, Sunday schools, old friends and counseling session, I don’t think about any of those things. The only thing I’m thinking about is how to get this plane safely down on the ground. That’s all I’d be thinking about.

Pastor Jenkins:
I would tell pastors, find something that you can do. If it’s golf, if it’s … I don’t know what it is for you.

Dr. Smith:
Ride that Harley.

Pastor Jenkins:
There you go. Get on that Harley, ride that Harley, do whatever you got to do. You got to have that as a part of a regular part of your life that [inaudible 00:29:29] that just breaks the monotony and the stress of ministry because ministry is extremely stressful. I would say to them through all of those experiences, find that thing that you do that gives you relief. I hope I’m answering your question, Dr. Smith, but that’s [crosstalk 00:29:46]

Dr. Smith:
No, you are, and that leads me into my next question. I was going to ask you as a busy pastor, how have you thought about work-life balance and burn out and things you’ve answered some of that, but even just work like balance. I’m going to ask you from the standpoint of I mentioned early, I went to Hampton and I was amazed pastor when I got to college, some of the most frustrated people, so most pant up people were preacher’s kids. As a young man who loved the church and love the Lord, it was shocking from the outside. I would have thought man, the best place in the world to grow up is in a preacher’s house. It was really shocking to just to get to know some PKs and college. How have you thought about work-life balance? Unfortunately, I walk with guys sometimes when a marriage has broken up, and then they subsequently have not been able to have the same level of fruitfulness in ministry if they’re even able to stay in ministry.

Dr. Smith:
How have you thought about work-life? In corporate world, they say work life balance, but I’m intrigued because I saw some video sometime for some celebration. Your kids were in, I think your son, maybe your kids were in the pulpit teaching you how to Duggee. I just saw the interaction there and I just saw that it was genuine. I’ve always wanted to ask you about that just because I just remember from being in college. Then now remember from talking to young adults, sometimes preachers kids and my wife constantly has conversations with wives of ministers and it’s not all good brother. I just want to ask you, how have you thought about over 30 plus years? I said, work-life work, home balance.

Pastor Jenkins:
I have six kids and my older kids, when they were young, I did a terrible job. In my search for significance, I neglected them. The fact that I have a relationship, a thriving, healthy relationship with them today is the mercy of God. God was merciful to restore our relationship. I was so busy trying to be important and be somebody that I neglected them. But over the course of time, God woke me up. Number one, he taught me that I needed to establish some boundaries. Every pastor needs to have boundaries, and those boundaries are designed to protect you, your family, your marriage. With my younger kids, I learned to do that. One of my sons played football in college. I told the leadership and his games on Saturday, and I’m going to be at his games.

Pastor Jenkins:
For the time he played college football, I went to every one of his college games. They knew that Saturday mass is not available during the football season. That was important to me, boundaries, you have to establish boundaries, vacations, you got to take vacations. You got to get away. Back in 2005, I got ill. The doctors thought I had a brain aneurysm and they transferred me to another hospital. Either I didn’t have a brain aneurism or some way between, when I left the first hospital and went to the second hospital, the aneurysm got healed, but I didn’t have to have surgery. They couldn’t find it when I got to the second hospital. But from that, when I came out of that hospital visit, one of my members had a vacation home, they sent me to and I slept for a week. I slept all day, every day for a week. I didn’t realize how tired I was. I rearranged my schedule and my time to make sure that I will never get that tired again. I went away on that Monday.

Pastor Jenkins:
I didn’t feel like doing nothing until Friday, and every day, I just slept and ate. That’s all I did. I promised I will never let myself get to that place again, the way I was killing myself. Jesus never called us to die for the church. He already did that. Everybody got to figure out what their rhythm is, how you best function. I figured out what my rhythm is and I have my time of rest and recouping and away from ministry. Then I come back refresh. I have a rhythm for that. I have a cycle for that, and everybody needs to have that.

Dr. Smith:
Amen. Amen. I don’t think you can have longevity without that. A few years back, one of our churches hosted something for a radio station, and Tony Evans was a speaker at Kettering Baptist church. I think you came over to pick him up to go to another engagement. You all were walking out and I was just thinking about black longevity in ministry, and how there’s such an interaction there between faithful and fulfilling marriage and attentiveness to children and things like that. Really value your input on that. I hope all ministers would hear that.

Dr. Smith:
Even the first part of your testimony that, if things have not been, as they should have been, God is able to restore and God is able to her manner. I heard a name the other day. One of my friends said, gey man, have you checked out in the water yet? One of pastor Jenkins sons produced or edited or wrote that. I checked it out last night and I felt good because I’m home grown in PG County, but everywhere I was the math, all them places, I was riding the bench, but if you ride the bench in a good County, I guess you are right. Was that true? One of your sons produced or directed that?

Pastor Jenkins:
He was the co-director for that. Yes.

Dr. Smith:
Wonderful.

Pastor Jenkins:
He did that.

Dr. Smith:
Let me ask you a question. No one has been influential in my life like my late pastor in a Paul/Timothy relationship. Sadly, I don’t think all ministers, all pastors value, those kinds of relationships. But I have noticed that you have given intentionality to those relationships. I listened the way, as I mentioned earlier, brother Bobby, Pastor Bobby Manning speaks of you, and even other men, brothers and sisters in ministry. How have you thought about that over your 30 plus years? What responsibility have you felt in that sense?

Pastor Jenkins:
I believe that every pastor needs to have a pastor, and I’m honored to serve as a pastor to gentlemen like Bobby Manning and many others. I just think every pastor should have somebody that they’re submitted to, that they honor, that they know it looks out for their souls, that looks out for them as an individual, looks out for their ministry, give them guidance. God never intended for us to sail the ship alone. He wants us to have wisdom. I’m honored to be a pastor and a position to be able to mentor. Let me just say this, Dr. Smith, because I think this is important too. A lot of people have coaches and mentors, and that’s fine. Coaches are fine, but there’s a big difference between a coach, mentor and a pastor. The big difference is that the pastor has a level of authority that a coach doesn’t have.

Dr. Smith:
Amen.

Pastor Jenkins:
Every pastor needs to have somebody in your life who can tell you to sit down.

Dr. Smith:
Yeah. When I was at my pastors funeral, I said the thing I will miss the most and some people get it. Some people didn’t get it the thing I will miss the most is him saying, “Kevin, shut up.” You have to have those … matter of fact, even how I started this interview, I was asking you some of the feelings I’m processing now. When you’re in your 50s, it’s an interesting thing. My father has died, my pastor has died. Some of the older deacons that mentored me of that. It’s an interesting thing, when a lot of the older men in your life are no longer there. You thank the Lord for colleagues, and you certainly thank the Lord for sons in the ministry, but it’s an interesting thing when those older brothers go on. I appreciate your input there and I appreciate your love there.

Dr. Smith:
There’s a guy from your church, Anthony Brown, when I walk, I listen to one of his songs, I Got It. Brother Bobby put me onto that and I laughed. How I so appreciate how both those men speak of you in that pastoral sense and those kinds of relationships. Praise the Lord for that. Before we get off, I do want to kind of raise up from First Baptist and ask some broader questions because I take you to be a Christian statesman and I thank the Lord for the fruitfulness of your ministry. 30 plus years, and I don’t know all the history of First Baptist Glenarden, but how have you approached and thought about denominational involvement? I mainly grew up in national Baptist churches. There was a time we were at a church, it was American Baptist church of the South, which was basically the black churches within the American Baptist Convention.

Dr. Smith:
Then after college, began church planting, which led to involvement with the Southern Baptist Convention. Really, I got in it because of a very good friendship and Chattanooga, Tennessee with a password, it would have been the sending church for our church plant. Constantly, people are thinking about denominational involvement. I talk to younger guys, and sometime they have a certain kind of individualistic, autonomous kind of spirit. Then also sometimes, as you said, you had a slow approach to pastoral ministry. Sometimes large organizations don’t flex as quickly as smaller ones. How have you considered denominational involvement over your pastoral leadership time?

Pastor Jenkins:
During the course of my pastor here at First Baptist, our church started off with one denomination. When I became the pastor, I looked at multiple denominations and made a decision to land with a denomination called converge. Let me just tell you about it, converge. It’s official business name is to Baptist General Conference, but they changed the name to doing business has converged, grow wide. I joined that denomination for three reasons. One, I joined it because it was an organization that majored on church planting. I have a passion for church planting. I joined them because it was primarily a multiracial organization. I wanted our people to be exposed to something other than just African-Americans, actually just primarily African-American, but I wanted us to have our people.

Pastor Jenkins:
Some of our people in our church grew up during the civil rights era. Their image of Anglos is not positive. I wanted them to know that there are some righteous Anglo people. I wanted them to be exposed to that. Thirdly, I joined it because it was an organization that, instead of the focus of the denomination being the church, helping denomination, this denomination’s focus is on the denomination helping the church. There are some things that you cannot get independent of organizations. You need to be connected and fellowship and in relationship with something outside of yourself. That’s why we’re actively involved in our denomination. I actually served as vice president there for a number of years. I’m not in that role now. But I did do that for about three, four years. I just think it’s important for people to be connected with something outside of just your own internal self.

Dr. Smith:
Well, that is a strong statement coming from a pastor of, what is classified as a mega church, having been in those settings, having seen your congregation grow and the the days that we’re in, what are your thoughts about Christian unity? Paul says in Ephesians 4:3, “Endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit and the of peace,” but you mentioned earlier rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. But I’ll say, since 2012, I was pastoring a medium size, mostly black congregation doing Trayvon Martin, and I was pastoring a large, mostly white congregation doing Ferguson. Now I’m serving in this role. Matter of fact, I came to this role partly because of concerns about the church’s inability to speak during the days of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Dr. Smith:
Just what are your thoughts about Christian unity? I put my cards on the table. I think, since the founding, Christians have never had a unified boys that was contrary to the culture, whether you’re speaking of slavery or whether you’re speaking of the Jim Crow post-reconstruction era, or whether you’re speaking of the ’20s and the things have happened in the civil rights movement, the culture was moved, but that was largely due to the influence of the historic black denominations. I’m a Bible man, and I believe we are at bay and pursue Paul’s exhortation, but also realize, when I’m talking to people in their ’20s in their 30s, they are disillusioned, they are frustrated. They believe that the unity of the spirit means every Kendrick tribe, tongue, and nation, and that you are my brother or you and my sister and you can’t see me wounded and just like a avert your eyes and not have any concern towards my pain.

Dr. Smith:
I’m just wondering, as a pastor in a County that is the home of the largest black middle class in America, but you’re also right next to the seat of power, Washington, D.C., You know a lot of pastors I pastor’s in your denomination, you know passes outside of your denomination. What are your thoughts about Ephesians 4:3, and just the whole concept of Christian unity for Christians in the United States of America?

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah.

Dr. Smith:
I’m sorry to sound so discouraged in asking a question, but obviously you can see where I am.

Pastor Jenkins:
Well, you’ve spoken truth, which you’re saying it’s the reality that the lack of unity among the Christian faith is the Achilles heel of the Christian Church. We’ve had such a difficult time being unified. The Bible’s clear, both Ephesians 4 and Psalm one 133. Yeah, is unified. When the people have got a unified God commands a blessing, there’s a commanded blessing there. We haven’t been able to experience that commanding blessing hence God would want to give to us because we haven’t been able to get unified. I’m like you, I have a heart for it, I have a burden for it, but it’s been extremely difficult to try to get it to happen.

Dr. Smith:
It’s been challenging. I’ve pursued that as a pastor of a mostly black congregation. We would eventually begin to have different kinds of brothers and sisters in the community joined. I pursued that as a passive of mostly white congregation. We would have brothers and sisters begin to join and all those kind of things. On one level, I’ve always felt like, man, if we could live in this church building, we could get somewhere, but we got to leave the church building and go into our houses, then go into our neighborhoods. That’s when stuff begins to happen. I’ve passed tons of police officers. I think there are noble and godly police officers out there, but also think they’re evil and wicked police officers. We have to have the ability to just righteously make those kinds of distinctions.

Dr. Smith:
It seems like when we get beyond, I said the church building, but I said, well, we get beyond the worship service, we can even have worship services where different preachers will preach and different choirs will sing. We could even kind of have an appearance of unity in that sense, but the relational elements, the things that Jesus prayed about at John 17, “Father, I pray that they might be one as I am in you and you are in me.” Man, that’s not a cheap unity. That is something that is supposed to reflect the majesty and the glory of the Trinity.

Pastor Jenkins:
Absolutely.

Dr. Smith:
With the last word, I would love for you to exhort Christians towards Christian unity, if you would mind doing that.

Pastor Jenkins:
Yeah. I will say pastor, that it is the heart of God. It is the prayer that Jesus prayed. It is to theme throughout scripture, that God wants us to have unity. He wants us to be on the same page, walking in the same direction. Two cannot walk together unless they agree. This is the heart of God. What I would say to Christian leaders is, if unity doesn’t occur, don’t let it be because you didn’t do your part. You didn’t come forth and try to make it happen. I’ve done all that, I know to do. I’ve made myself available. I have bought my church into diverse organizations and reported various in a sundry activities to show the unity, but don’t let it be because you didn’t, or you didn’t have the time, or you didn’t see it. God loves it, and He will command blessings if we’ll just get on the same page.

Dr. Smith:
Amen. Pastor John Jenkins of the First Baptist church of Glenarden, I thank you so much for your time. I think many pastors need to spend a lot more time listening to brothers with multiple years of experience. You have shared with us, and those who listened to this podcast will be blessed, pastors and members of congregations. I want to thank you so, so much for your time. I hope we will have restrictions lifted soon in Maryland, and you can the airborne and up in God’s beautiful sky and relax a little bit, and certainly the saints can gather back together.

Dr. Smith:
I know the saints miss gathering because when you all gather you worship the Lord. Sometimes when I want to hear good old songs that I grew up on, like Andrae Crouch, we are not the same to the gospel, if I YouTube it, it’ll come up to a First Baptist Glenarden video of your choir singing it. Look, I thank you for keeping that good gospel music alive for another generation, brother. God bless you. God bless your ministry. God bless your congregation. May you continue to bear much fruit for the Lord, Jesus Christ. Thank you so much.

Pastor Jenkins:
Thank you for having me.

Dr. Smith:
God bless you.

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