By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – When James Jenkins came on board with the Louisiana Baptist Convention as state director of African-American ministries in 1999, he envisioned a day when hundreds of new churches would be planted in the state.
That day is almost here, Jenkins believes.
From 2014 to 2020, as part of an emphasis on church planting through the President’s 2020 Commission, Louisiana Baptists will seek to start 300 new congregations, including a goal of 230 new churches in South Louisiana, – something Jenkins believes can happen.
“This is our hour, this is our time,” said Jenkins, who becomes the LBC’s new Director of Church Planting for the Missions and Ministry Team. He will officially start this position on Jan. 1. “We can do this and we can achieve things that come as an opportunity with the 2020 Commission.”
A veteran church planter for 22 years, Jenkins has been a part of starting more than 200 church plants of various ethnicities, sizes and locations in Louisiana. Jenkins estimates between 5 and 10 percent of those churches started other church plants.
Since 1992, Jenkins has served as pastor of a church plant – Baptist Bible Fellowship in Shreveport. The church started as a Sunday school class at Linwood Baptist Church in Shreveport.
Five months later, the class grew to 60 in attendance, forcing the group to find another place to meet. Baptist Bible Fellowship remained a mission of Summer Grove Baptist Church until 1998, when it became a church.
Jenkins believes church planting is the most effective means of evangelism.
“It is a natural outgrowth of Christ’s command to make disciples,” Jenkins said. “When we start a successful church plant, we put in place the most effective means for evangelizing and equipping more disciples for now and the future.”
John Hebert, director of the Missions and Ministry Team for Louisiana Baptist Convention, said he is looking forward to working with Jenkins to accomplish the goals of planting many more churches by the year 2020.
“I have worked with James for 14 years,” Hebert said. “For 12 of those years we were close associates involved in reaching the lost through missions in our state, and for the last two-and-a-half as Team Leader in our work.
“He has a unique set of skills that qualify him to lead the church planting effort of Louisiana Baptists, as well as a proven commitment to this task,” he said. “He and I have a shared vision for this work that has been picked up by our 2020 Presidential Commission and has become the vision of our convention. It is a blessing and privilege to work along such a fine man in this noble cause.”
Jenkins is looking forward to seeing many more churches planted in his new role as state director of church planting, where he will work with others to start new churches. That includes starting new ethnic congregations in a state whose population is 40 percent non-Anglo, according to research made available to the 2020 Commission.
According to Jenkins “the ends of the earth has now come to our state.”
A native of Shreveport, Jenkins holds degrees from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Jenkins and his wife, Catherine, have two grown children, Nicole and Janiece.