Jody Jennings becomes Associate Campus Minister in fall

Jody's Office.jpg

Morgan McNorrill, Contributing Writer

Since stepping into the position of Baptist Collegiate Ministry Director 10 years ago, Jody Jennings has occupied the same office on North Greenville University’s campus ministries hall. Though not moving out of office 105, Jennings is expanding his leadership responsibilities from BCM to Campus Ministries as a whole.

Starting fall 2018, the title under the plaque of Jennings’ office will read Associate Campus Minister. Jennings will work directly under Vice President of Campus Ministries Steve Crouse, handling day-to-day operations of the department.

The need for Jennings’ position initially derived integrating church relations and campus ministries. According to Jennings, conversations about better teamwork between the two departments occurred since his initial employment at NGU.

Officially merging the departments sparked new conversation of how to effectively work better together. Jennings knew it had to begin with a unified vision. In department meetings, he met with other leaders saying, “Let’s start running side by side toward the same goal.”

The goal in mind was simple: to disciple. However, Jennings believed the ministry should be united with a mission statement as well.

Despite already having an established motto at BCM, Jennings shared, “I didn’t think it would be wise or helpful to take it and impose it on campus ministries.”

BCM’s mission statement at the time was “creating community focused on Christ for internal growth and external service.” It was developed upon Jennings’ arrival in the ministry.

Now working with other ministries, Jennings wanted to create a team mindset. “We needed to develop something new,” said Jennings.

According to Jennings, an effective aspect of organizational leadership is using the same language. “[That’s] that biggest part,” explained Jennings, “Everybody talking the same way and not just thinking it.”

The vision of a unified mission statement came to fruition last fall. “Know, grow and go” now serves as the umbrella motto for campus ministries.

The phrase is expanded by Jennings to knowing Christ, growing in faith and going with the abilities that God has placed within every person to ultimately impact the world.

“The intent is not to think just campus ministries,” said Jennings, “But everybody.” To Jennings, everybody extends from BCM or Fellowship of Collegiate Athletes to student life or academics.

Jennings believes that the faculty as a whole is included in what campus ministries is all about. “Everybody who works here on this campus should be a campus minister,” Jennings revealed, “Therefore, every student should be connected to campus ministries.”

This inclusivity mindset is a present aspect of Jennings’ leadership style. When campus ministries and church relations merged, responsibilities shifted. Jennings began taking on additional tasks while serving with BCM.

Even without a title, Jennings served the campus outside of his job description as BCM director. He was asked to be on committees and represented the university off campus.

After reflecting on his opportunities at NGU, Jennings said, “I think leadership is more influence than title.” Thus far, most of the student body has seen that influence on the stage at Turner Chapel.

Last September, Jennings preached a sermon at BCM on Acts 17. In the passage, Paul preaches the Gospel message to the people of Athens. Jennings’ main sermon points emphasized the necessity of Paul seeing the people and where he was.

Jennings recognizes the importance of looking outside of himself to those around him. However, this practice is not just something he does. According to others, humble leadership is who he is.

NGU senior Adeline Floyd has been connected with BCM since her freshman year. She claims that Jennings’ leadership excels especially in the field of service.

“He has taught me that a great leader is not one who desires to be served by people under him,” said Floyd, “But more so, someone who serves the people under him.”

In regards to Jennings’ upcoming position, Floyd believes there is no one more qualified than him.

“He has always been so passionate about [ministry] and being intentional with others,” Floyd explained, “Not to honor himself, but truly honoring and glorifying to God and His kingdom.”

With BCM in need of a new director, Jennings and Crouse have undergone a search for potential candidates. Their qualifications? Capacity and character.

“Having a skill set and experience won’t matter without the integrity and trust,” shared Jennings.

Jennings does not expect the new director to lead BCM the way he has for the past 10 years. He believes that an effective leader cannot conform to a pattern of convenience.

“[The new director] is going to have to develop their own sense of function as to how God has designed [him/her],” said Jennings, “As a result, [the leader] is far more effective.”

Evaluating prospective leaders is not a new practice for Jennings. Graduating senior J.G. Faulk shared how Jennings has the ability to see leadership potential.

“[Jennings] is very observant and pay attention to the way people interact,” said Faulk, “He desires to help others grow as he continues to grow himself.”

Faulk is excited for Jennings in his new position. From observing Jennings words and action, Faulk sees his desire to build relationships, develop leadership and promote discipleship.

“He’s taught me how to be an intentionally gospel-centered person in a world full of growing hostility toward the Gospel,” shared Faulk, “The world needs more people like Jody Jennings.”

Jennings’ everyday involvement with BCM is changing. However, his desire for North Greenville University, to know Christ, grow in faith and go serve, remains the same.