Jermone Glenn: Making a Difference 21st Century Style
Story by: Cami Reister
Photography: Katy Batdorff
In his 39 years,
Jermone Glenn has been many things: President of the student council, church janitor, college student, youth pastor, teacher, preacher, son, husband, father.
But get him talking about his younger years and it becomes clear he is one more thing: He’s the guy who broke up the band.
After graduating from high school (three years at Creston, senior year at East Kentwood), he and his friends had plans: Save money, move to Atlanta, make it big in the music industry.
But then — God called. “He called me while I was at my house with my friends ‘being rebellious,’” Glenn said. “He called me in the midst of all that.”
Despite his admonitions, his friends answered the phone. In the haze of “being rebellious,” Glenn recognized his pastor’s voice telling him he hadn’t seen him at church in a while.
“It was honestly like God was calling me,” he said. “It felt like that: Whoa. He’s calling me. It was like — come back to church, I want to see you.” And so Glenn did. And that’s when his relationship with God, his religious roots, his passion, began to stir anew. He wasn’t going to Atlanta. He stayed in Grand Rapids and took a job as janitor at his church, where in a short time he was named youth pastor.
“I gave my life to Christ. … My friends thought I was crazy,” he said. “It was amazing that the phone would ring at that moment, because I was probably starting to head down a different path.”
The band disbanded. After working at the church for a while, Glenn went to college in Chicago and stayed there after graduation. He met a woman who would become his wife and the mother of his oldest son. He continued to prepare for a life in the church, taking “church planting” classes. But when it came down to making the commitment, his wife said no.
“I was getting ready to plant a church and the last thing they wanted to do is have the whole family meeting,” he recalled. “She said, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ … She said she didn’t want to be married to me anymore because I was a preacher. “It was devastating.”
It was more than enough to derail his plans. After dedicating his life to God’s work for nearly 10 years only to run into a brick wall, he was disillusioned.
“I said, God, really? … Ah, forget it, I’m going to be a teacher.”
And he did. And because Glenn is who he is, he excelled, taking on more responsibility in the school where he worked. He sought his master’s degree in education. And just as he was considering a promotion (with a big raise), God called again.
This time it was Bishop William C. Abney of Bethel Abundant Life Center on Lake Drive SE in Grand Rapids. Abney wanted him to be his assistant. “I had to choose destiny or money,” he said.
He chose destiny. He met his current wife, Erica, Abney’s granddaughter, while there. It was widely believed that they would succeed Abney to lead Bethel.
But Glenn started to get those feelings again, and this time his wife felt the same. With Abney’s blessing, they went out on their own. “If he would have said no, we wouldn’t have done it,” Glenn said.
But Glenn calls himself “a trailblazer, not a pathfinder.” And so, in the summer of 2006, The Revolution was born. As the name implies, it is not church as usual.
The services are held at 5301 28th St. Court in Kentwood, a space previously used as a satellite location for Resurrection Life Church. The two-hour services, where the altar is in the center of the church, are filled with music and energy. Glenn has a powerful presence. In his current sermon series, G-Rated Sex, the altar features a king-size bed.
He uses his marketing background to liven things up and speak to people who may not connect with the way church is usually done.
“I hated the way the church was marketed,” he said. “It was all stuffy and religious and steeples.”
So The Revolution is the opposite.
“We don’t encourage people to turn their cellphone off at church,” he said. “We do a cellphone prayer. We encourage them to tweet. I’ll say, ‘Everyone update your status to this.’”
Glenn embraces social media as another way to connect with people. His own posts on Facebook and Twitter are bursts of inspiration, coming in flurries of two or three posts at a time.
“My timeline and my status is a reflection of what I am; my thoughts, my feelings,” he said. “I feel like ministry, especially in the 21st Century, is not about Sunday, where only those that can come to me receive it.
“I’ve got to get to them.”
Glenn has more than 3,100 Facebook friends and more than 1,000 followers on Twitter. “I’m talking to people,” he said.
And they are listening. What started with about 30 people now has between 1,700 and 2,000 that call the church home. About 700 regularly attend the weekly services. “I’m following organically the blueprint that I believe is inside of me,” he said. “I just stay true to what I believe God has put in my life and my heart for me to do.”
Part of the philosophy behind the name, The Revolution, is that a revolution brings you back full circle, “back to the original intent,” Glenn said. “We need personal revolutions in our lives,” he said. “We’ve adopted and adapted to so many things that are so different from what we intended to be.”
But a revolution is also about doing things differently, which was the intent behind starting a new church. “A revolution is a drastic way of changing and behaving; a different perspective,” he said. People learn in different ways and want to worship in different ways and Glenn respects that.
“The Revolution is ready for everybody, but not everybody is ready for The Revolution, and that’s fine,” he said. But Glenn is definitely ready and right where he wants to be. He and Erica lead the church together. In addition to his oldest son, who is now 11, they have a daughter who turns 5 this week and another son who is 2.
When asked to think five years down the road and where he wants to be then, he said he just wants “more.” “More of everything that I have,” he said. “I’m not discontent at all. I’m not greedy. I just want more of everything that I have: more love, more life, more fun, more family, more ministry, more trying to make a difference.
“I don’t want to just do more, I want to become more and have the power to accomplish my assignment.”