Monday, July 15, 2013


Donnie Burke and Mark McCraney make a good church planting team in Castle Rock, Colorado.  

Donnie and Susan Burke family

Mark and Danielle McCraney family

Click this link -  

to watch a 15 minute question and answer video about their work.

Not only does this give insight into starting new churches, but they give ideas that can help you in your work.

And they even have bloopers!

Thursday, May 30, 2013


This is an article that I wrote for the June, July issue of ONE magazine.

I was talking to a home missionary recently and he mentioned how often he felt inadequate and thought about quitting.  And this guy is doing a good job.  But I could certainly identify.  During my 20 years as a pastor, I thought about quitting almost every week.  On Sunday nights, I would rehearse my mistakes of that day.  When you speak 3 or 4 times in a day and have a couple of hundred conversations, you will probably have said something dumb.  Even if it was a great day, I thought about the family that wasn’t there or the person who got a little upset with me.  And I said to myself, “Surely, there has to be somebody better than me to do this!”
It is not just church planters and pastors that feel inadequate.  From what I have observed and read, a lot of people deal with a lot of negative self-talk.  This leads to either never starting or quitting early.  Look at the great leader Moses became, but he started out thinking he wasn’t good enough. 
Here are some ideas that have helped me:
Remember That You Are Inadequate
I just mean by this that you should not try to do God’s work without a daily walk with Him, depending on His strength.
When I was a pastor, I had two Sunday morning rituals.  One of them was to sing out loud in my office before church the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” 
              I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
               no tender voice like thine can peace afford.
      I need thee, O I need thee
                every hour I need thee;
                O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.
Remember That Your Work Is Important
The other ritual was to ask myself the question about my preaching –
“Do you have to say something or do you have something to say?” 
Are you going through the motions with your ministry or is this something important for people and the Kingdom?

 Hang Around Some Encouraging People
We tell our children to not hang around others who are a bad influence,  but some of your acquaintances may be a bad influence on you.  If they are always negative, critical, and discouraging, maybe you need to pull back from them. (This may include other influences like books and TV shows)  Find someone who encourages you and spend time with them.  I don’t where I’d be if I didn’t have an encouraging wife!

 Hone Your Skills
One of the best ways to feel better about our work is to do better work.

Remember That The Harvest Takes Time
“I believe God wants us to be successful and yet success is not always obvious.  The Chinese bamboo tree does absolutely nothing - or so it seems – for the first four years.  Then suddenly, sometime during the fifth year, it shoots up ninety feet in sixty days.  Would you say that the bamboo tree grew in six weeks, or five years?  I think our lives are akin to the Chinese bamboo tree.  Sometimes we put forth effort, put forth effort, put forth effort…and nothing seems to happen.  But if you do the right things long enough, you’ll receive the rewards of your efforts.”
                                            Chick-fil-a founder  S. Truett Cathy

 Don’t Compare To Others
            When I compare myself to others, I end up either feeling proud or discouraged.

 Think Of The Needs Of Others
          If I am on a raft and someone in the lake is struggling to swim, I don’t say that I can’t do anything because I’m not a lifeguard or don’t swim as well as others.  I try to maneuver the raft closer or hold out something for them to grab.  I do what I can to help.  People all around us need the gospel.  They need the truth and love that we have. 
I close with this quote from H.B. London:

“In the twenty-first century, the issue of apathy may be our number one problem.  Possibilities are clouded when a pastor feels overwhelmed by the massive and compelling spiritual needs he sees around him everywhere.  As a result, sin and secularism are devastatingly oppressive to him.  But consider the presuppositions of ministry again.  Doesn’t a call to ministry mean that God may send a pastor to wretched situations He wants to redeem and to people He wants to save?  Doesn’t ministry mean that God sends us, inadequate though we are, next door to hell to make the setting more like heaven?  He has to have someone there as His agent of reconciliation.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


There is a new church getting started in Tallahassee, Florida-
The Oaks Church

This past weekend, Sandy and I traveled to Tallahassee to visit the Donohos and participate in an Operation Saturation (going house to house to spread the word about the new church).

The stage area of the church
Nice, comfortable seats in the auditorium
The Tallahassee team has done a lot of work getting this building in great shape to have church!

Ken Akers of the Masters Men is the main sponsor of the Operation Saturation.  Here he is in the blue shirt.
On the left is home missionary, Cliff Donoho.
On the right is Cliff's son, Chad.
They are our only father-son team of home missionaries.
The two children are Chad's daughter, Anna, and son, Luke.

Sandy Atwood passing out information about the church.
She took one side of the street and I took the other.

Children's Ministries building

The Operation Saturation group
This small group covered a lot of houses.

Cliff is giving a tour and showing their top of the line sound system.

Cliff and his granddaughter, Emma

The young couple on the right, Adam and Rebekah Garrett, moved down
to help start the new church.  I love to see unselfish people like that!
In the small world category, Adam's father, Rodney, is a friend of mine from
my home church in Maryland.
Before the service, there is free coffee and doughnuts.
Kathy Donoho (Cliff's wife) is trying to decide about having one.

Chad Donoho leads the worship service from the keyboard.
His wife, Jenny, is on the praise team (in green).
They did a great job with the music, especially considering this was only the 2nd service.

Cliff Donoho preached a good message about the storms of life.

Announcing the Grand Opening Service

The Donohos are old friends and it was good to see them.
This is a great area for a new church and we are excited about the possibilities there!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Easter Weekend turned out to be a great time for outreach for many of our new churches!

The Marana, Arizona church with Jeff Goodman and Josh Bennett had over 200 first time guests with a total attendance of between 350 and 400!

The Heritage FWB Church in Greenfield, California broke their record attendance with 132 people present.
Pastor Jim Kilgore had promised to eat a goldfish if they broke their record.

Daryl Grimes and the Flagship FWB Church in Erie, Pennsylvania also broke their record with 71 attending, 13 visitors, and 3 people saved!

Allen Hall and the church in York, Pennsylvania had several visitors and an attendance of 72!

Another record broken - Tim Riggs and the Bay City FWB Church in Mobile, Alabama  had 155 with 1 saved and other decisions!  They had 29 first time visitors - some of which they have been inviting for 2 years!
Tim's son, Caleb (on the left), after church.

Len Blanchard in Oxford, Alabama reports 3 new families on Easter!

Steven Gray in Collinsville, Illinois is excited about the 170 people present with 2 people saved and 3 who want to be baptized!

Speaking of baptism - Jeff Cates in Canyon, Texas has baptized people 3 weeks in a row.
Jeff Cates' baptistery

Brian Williams and the church in Buffalo, New York are excited about their biggest outreach event yet - their Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.  Around 500 people participated!

Tim Osborn in Oakland, Tennessee had an ablation procedure of taking cancer off his liver on Monday.  But he was in church preaching on Easter.  They only missed their record by 2 - had 79 with 1 person saved!

Florence, Arizona (Howard Gwartney) - 129 with lots of visitors!

Colorado Springs, Colorado (Dexter Guin) - 130 with 2 saved!

Suffolk, Virginia (David Sexton and Marc Neppl) - 166!

Aurora, Colorado (Barry Long) - 10 guests!

Clarksville, Tennessee (Chad Kivette) - 50 for Sunrise Service on a cool, rainy morning!

Rochester, New York (Jim Martin) - 68 with 4 visitors and 1 saved!

Castaic, California (Keith Bartlett) - 99!

Thank God - He is still working in people's lives!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Sandy and I visited the home mission work in Exeter, Rhode Island this past weekend.  We had a great time with Bill and Christy Reynolds and their 4 children.  Bill is a Rhode Island native, so he fits in well.  He is doing a good job building a church there.  That includes literally building a new church building - Bill was the General Contractor (and main laborer).  They finished it in August, 2012.

Here's a picture of the outside of their beautiful new building.

Nice looking big parking lot

Big fellowship hall with great kitchen

Auditorium seats 250

Nursery - I like the lettering

Bill's son, Billy, plays the guitar for service.

Here's Bill leading the service.

Christy did a great job playing the piano!

Bill's daughter, Michaela, is on the right playing the keyboard.

Greeting time.  The church averages about 70 on Sunday morning.

Tommy and Sue Goodfellow had helped work on the building last year.  Now they have moved to Rhode Island to continue to help the church.  I would love to see more people do this.  The Goodfellows are the parents of home missionary Dawn Elliott in Quebec. 

Fellowship Dinner and Pie Contest after church

They twisted my arm to be a judge in the pie contest.  You can see that I really hated it.

Tommy Goodfellow hated it, too.

We loved spending time with the Reynolds family.  The children are respectful and yet a lot of fun.
Bill and Christy are dedicated and hard working.  They are also down to earth and humble.
We appreciate the great job they are doing!

Bill, Christy, Michaela, Hannah, Billy, and Sarah

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


The Suffolk, Virginia team of David Sexton and Marc Neppl have done a great job of getting a new church established.  After a start in a motel, they bought a funeral home and renovated it and now average over a hundred people each Sunday.

David and Charity Sexton

Marc and Casie Neppl
David and Marc recorded answers to many questions about reaching people and building a church.  They have some great ideas!.  It would be worth your while to watch this 15 minute video if you are interested in what it takes to start a new church or reach people in an established church.

Click the link below:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Eric Thomsen is the editor of ONE magazine.  He has been the editor for 9 years and is doing a great job!  Below his picture is a link to an interview we did recently about church publications.  He gave some good ideas and thoughts. Listen for his personal story in answer to the question, "What is one thing you would say to a church about their publicity? Click the link below his picture to view the 10 minute video.