And, it is evident that music is not just a hobby. Franklin recently wrote and recorded a song entitled “Send Us Peace” that spent two weeks in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Digital Sales Chart for gospel music.
In addition, Franklin, who has been singing professionally since he was 17, has sung on the steps of The Vatican in Rome with the likes of Pavarotti, Billy Preston and Lauryn Hill and has had his music played all over the world.
But the Memphis native is adamant that music is secondary to his role as a shepherd. “I’m a pastor who sings, not a singer who pastors.”
Six years ago, Franklin left his secular job as an educator in the Memphis school system to start The Power Spot, a church plant in inner city Memphis. He began the congregation with nothing but “a word from God and a flyer. I had no denominational backing and no money. I didn’t even have the following from being an evangelist or traveling around. I just had faith.”
After spreading the word of his intent to begin a church, 85 people showed up for that first informational meeting in a rented storefront, Franklin recalled Approximately 145 people attended the first service “and six years later, we’ve never had less than a hundred,” he noted. Today, the church averages about 165 on a good Sunday, the pastor added.
Franklin shared his story with the Baptist and Reflector while attending a retreat for church planters at Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center in Newport in May.
He related that after praying that he would meet someone who would mentor and advise him on pastoring a new congregation, he met Leon Jones, pastor of Dwelling Place Church in Memphis. Franklin noted that Jones was active in the Mid-South Baptist Association and the Tennessee Baptist Convention, so “he mentored me in that way. That worked perfectly for me because my core convictions were Baptist,” he recalled.
The Power Spot is now a member of Mid-South and the TBC and gives through the Cooperative Program. The church also receives funds from the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, said Lewis McMullen, church planting specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
McMullen noted the church “is reaching people who probably could not be reached by someone else.” He added that Franklin “is a strong partner” with the TBMB and he is making strides in the inner city where many churches struggle. Though Franklin is highly educated, he still wants to learn, McMullen said, noting that the Memphis pastor has taken three courses in church planting through the TBMB.
Though Franklin still earns a living through singing and producing albums (he receives no salary from the church), his family and church are his priorities. He credits his wife, Kanesha, for “buying into” his role as a pastor. “She is a PK (preacher’s kid) and she makes it easy,” Franklin affirmed.
The Power Spot has made an impact in the inner city and is reaching people through its clothes pantry which gives away more than 300 pounds of clothing monthly, much of it to single mothers, and a mentoring program in local schools.
Franklin is especially proud of the mentoring program which has now reached hundreds of kids. The former educator went to seven schools within a five-mile radius of the church and asked the principals to “give me the worst kids you have at every grade level. I want their names and I want their mama’s name and phone number.
Franklin began inviting those kids to The Power Spot on Saturday mornings where he spends three hours with them and a team from the church provides a meal for them.
The pastor offers incentives if they go certain lengths of time without getting into trouble, such as using an Xbox at the church for an hour or providing basketball courts in front of the church. This summer, the congregation is raising funds to take 60 kids to Disney World “because they have turned it around for a year,” Franklin said.
“We have to live up to our end of the bargain,” he said. “I had some kids in some serious stuff that have not gotten in any trouble in 12 months. This has been a big thing for our church as far as presence is concerned.”
Franklin acknowledged that they “don’t salvage all of them. Some of them fall through the cracks, but we have a high percentage of success.”
Many of the students end up attending church along with parents and other family members. “You get the kids, you get the parents,” he said, though he noted some of them don’t have parents. “You would have to see the conditions in which they live, but to get the child is a miracle for some of them.” B&R