Jentezen Franklin is one of five children born to Billy and Katie Franklin. His father died in 1991, and his mother remains actively involved in Franklin's church, Free Chapel. His mother is one of twenty-seven children in the Stone family of Wilson, North Carolina. He has an older brother, Doyle, and two younger sisters, Jennifer and Jill. Early in his career, Franklin traveled as an evangelistic team with his elder brother, Richie, who died, December 1, 2012. Franklin and his wife, Cherise, married in September 1987, and together they have five children: Courteney, Caressa, Caroline, Connar, and Drake.
Jentezen Franklin studied tenor saxophone under Frank Mayes at Atlantic Christian College in his hometown of Wilson, North Carolina. Jentezen, along with his brother, Richie, played in the college Jazz Band. Jentezen quit college after his brother graduated and pursued the ministry under the guidance of his father.
On his way to a musical career as a saxophone player, Jentezen felt led by God to become an evangelist. Prior to becoming the senior pastor of Free Chapel (which is affiliated with the Congregational Holiness Church), Jentezen Franklin had visited the church annually as a Church of God evangelist. When Roy Wellborn, the church's senior pastor, died, Franklin had been scheduled to preach. In 1989, Jentezen became the senior pastor of Free Chapel, which was made up of a small congregation of about 300 people. In 2004, the church moved to its current location, which has a 3,000 seat auditorium. In 2007, Jentezen Franklin opened the second Free Chapel Church in Irvine, California. On August 5, 2007, the church held its first service with about 163. Since that day, the Free Chapel Orange County has radically expanded, and now serves thousands weekly.
Forward is an annual student conference hosted by Franklin's church since 2004.