Meet Jeff Jennings
After a thorough process involving Elders, Ministry Staff, College & Growth Group leadership, we are delighted to introduce to the GraceSLO church family our new Pastor of College & Growth Groups and his wife, Jeff & Robin Jennings. Please join our leadership in praying for the Jennings family as they seek suitable housing on the Central Coast and prepare for their soon transition to GraceSLO.
Who is this guy?
Jeff was raised in a Christian home and came to faith at a young age. He had the privilege of attending a Christian school through high school, which led him to a love of literature. During college, he sensed a call on his life to ministry that was confirmed by others within his church. Upon completion of his English degree, he entered seminary. After one semester, he left seminary while wrestling with the call to ministry and returned to university to complete his high school teaching credential. Unable to avoid the call, he re-entered seminary immediately upon the completion of his credential. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, running, reading, traveling, and spending time with his family.
He met his wife Robin on New Years Eve in 2003, right after she graduated from Biola University with a degree in Elementary Education. They were married in 2005 and blessed with their daughter, Evangeline, in 2009. Robin has completed her Master’s in Education with which she taught elementary school and served as an administrator for a Christian high school’s International Department. She is passionate about Christian education, caring for their family, travelling, and her home country, Canada. They began their ministry together teaching Sunday School while they were engaged and she continues to be a helpmate in ministry in any way she can from co-leading summer children’s programs, being an active participant in Jeff's Sunday school classes, or serving in their church nursery.
Q & A with Jeff Jennings
Give a brief description of your conversion and relationship with God:
I came to faith in Christ at a very young age. Having been raised in a Christian home, I was very blessed to be exposed to the gospel from the cradle. I do believe that I came to faith at around 6 years old as the Holy Spirit began a work in my heart. This work was a monergistic work whereby the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my sin at a very young age. My mother was very instrumental on that day as she explained to me the gospel of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for my sins. Now while she used the traditional, “ask Jesus into your heart” method, I believe that the Holy Spirit brought about regeneration even at that young age. This began to germinate and grow as a love for church and being involved with God's people. I have many fond memories of my childhood churches and the relationships that I enjoyed there.
It was not until my early college years, however, when I believe I truly appropriated the faith as my own, realizing it was my faith as well, not just the faith of my parents. During these young adult years, being newly exposed to a deeper understanding of the faith, and the doctrines of grace, God used very solid biblical, expository preaching to kindle in me a yearning to know Him, His grace and Jesus Christ on a much deeper level. God also used the relationships I had with a couple of pastoral mentors, as we read through some great modern, classic works of Christianity (Mere Christianity, The Holiness of God, Two Cities Two Loves, and Lectures to My Students), and wrestled with the lifelong implications of being a undeserving recipient of God’s grace. At that time in my life a theme verse was Ephesians 2:8,9, “For grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.”
I keep my relationship with God vibrant by remembering that I am in constant need of a Savior. I didn’t just need a Savior to redeem me, but to also deliver me from my sinfulness in the process of sanctification. And that is what he has promised He will do (Phil. 1:6). I remember that I need to preach the gospel to myself daily, and daily appropriate the words of Romans 3:19‐26. I am a sinner, who was in need of a Savior to live and die to free me from the curse of the law, appeasing the wrath of God. I am a sinner who is still daily in need of a righteousness that is not my own, but the righteousness of Christ, accounted to me through faith. And all of this was by the gracious work of God, a free gift, from beginning to end. I can’t help but have a vibrant relationship when I continue to dwell on these truths, and in light of the fact that they have been made mine by a real person, the Son of God, who is knowable, real, risen, present, and dwelling inside of me, fills me with vibrant faith.
Describe your strengths and weaknesses.
In no particular order my greatest strengths would be preaching, caring for people and discipling people. Over the last ten years I have had the privilege of teaching and preaching in a multitude of settings and to every age group within the church, from the youngest preschool age, to our adult services, to our senior citizen Bible study. I have received much positive feedback andfound it to be one of the great joys of my life. One of the greatest benefits about being at my former church for the last thirteen years was that I was able to invest in peoples’ lives over an extended period of time. That has taught me a lot about caring for people through difficult seasons, different seasons of life, and seeing the gospel lived out amongst God’s people.
My weakness is delegating work to others. I have a prideful tendency to think that I alone can accomplish the task, and do the work the best. This however, I recognize, prohibits others from ministry opportunities at times and is wrong. This has also caused seasons where I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I have kept for myself. I am working to continually utilize a team ministry approach whereby others are given the opportunity to minister in partnership. I am also working towards being more biblically confrontational if the situation demands and avoid sinful passivity.
What books have you read in the past year?
The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkein
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
Forever by Paul Tripp
Living in the Hope of Glory by Aldophe Monod
Desire and Deceit by Albert Mohler
The Guttenberg Elegies by Sven Birkerts
The Other Walk by Svern Birkerts
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
He Is Not Silent by Albert Mohler
The Next Story by Tim Challies
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Counsel From the Cross by Fitzpatrick and Johnson
Smila’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp
How People Change by Paul Tripp
The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context by David Powlison
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Why Johnny Can't Preach by T. David Gordon
Counterfeit God's by Timothy Keller
The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
Gospel Centered Family by Ed Moll and Tim Chester
True Grit by Charles Portis
Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung
Describe a significant discipleship relationship you have experienced.
Kyle was a college student that was part of the college ministry I lead at Evangelical Free Church. Over the course of meeting weekly for two years, we read through The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and through various letters of Paul. It was as much of a time of growth for me as it was for him, I believe. It was wonderful to see him grow and be challenged as the Lord worked in his heart and he received Christ as his Savior.
I have also had fantastic experiences leading a Young Married group over the course of three years. This was a fantastic time of discipleship for my wife and me. We were able to build deep relationships with about ten couples in our church as we read various marriage books together, prayed together, and began to see our personal lives interwoven through the power of the Gospel.
Other opportunities I have had were leading a growth group for the past 2 years, and discipling young adults through our children’s ministry intern program.
Why do you believe God wants you in the pastorate?
As I look back and survey my sense of calling to ministry, I undoubtedly see the hand of God drawing me in. This was not a mission of ambition that burned within my breast; this was not a desire for power or influence that led me into ministry. This was something that God worked in me. This call to ministry was continually returning and echoing in my heart, like the repeated attempts to break through a busy signal on the phone. The book Preaching and Preachers by Lloyd‐Jones was instrumental during this early process as he says, “this is something that happens to you: it is God dealing with you, and God acting upon you by His Spirit; it is something you become aware of rather than what you do. It is thrust upon you; it is presented to you and almost forced upon you constantly in this way.” (Preachers and Preaching, Zondervan, 1971, p. 104).
This was my experience, and God used The external call of the pastors at my church (Tim Theule and Don Smith) to simultaneously affirm and bring out the internal call that was already taking place in my heart. It was a process of drawing me out as Lloyd‐Jones continues, “A man who feels he is competent, and that he can do this easily, and so rushes to preach without any sense of fear or trembling, or any hesitation whatsoever, is a man who is proclaiming that he has never been “called” to be a preacher” (Preachers and Preaching, Zondervan, 1971, p. 107). I stil wrestle with this “fear,” but it is an affirming fear, as I have seen many fruitful seasons of ministry that I know are brought about only by the Grace of God, His power, His work, and His Spirit. It has just been a blessing to be a vessel given certain ministry gifts that would allow me to do this work.
Name three Bible passages that have been personally meaningful to you and why.
Ephesians 2:1‐10: This passage has been so meaningful to me as it was used by God to expose me to grace as the Bible teaches it; a grace that is purely undeserved, unmerited, and freely given to those that God calls. My life was changed through listening to a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones where he focused on the deadness of the human condition in this passage and the critical little word “but” (vs. 4) that brings to light the initiating work of God in grace.
2 Corinthians 5:21: This passage so clearly gave me hope when I began to wrestle with the implications of double-imputation, the fact that my sins were imputed to Christ, and His righteousness was imputed to me. This was so freeing and hopeful to me. I began to understand more clearly, what I had already believed, that Christian growth, service, love and good works, was not to gain future merit with God in heaven, but I was accepted so warmly and graciously based upon Christ’s double work for me.
Psalm 51: This passage has been my heart cry from the depths of my sinfulness.