Monday, December 10, 2012


The Home Missions Board met on December 3 in Nashville.
Starting at the left front, they are Earl Hanna, Bob Lewis, Tim Stout, Randy Wright (Chairman), Ron Parker (Vice-Chairman), Bobby Shepherd, Bob Thebeau, and Jerry Atwell.  Director Larry Powell is standing.  Board Secretary Matt Upton could not attend.

The Home Missions Staff had their annual Christmas luncheon last week.

General Director Larry Powell and wife Wanda

Director of Development David Crowe and wife Kathey

Account Administrator Kathy Brown and husband Billy

CELF Account Administrator Sue Hayes and husband Mike

Publications Editor Ida Lewis and husband Ray

Administrative Assistant Teresa Womack and husband David with their grandson, Trevor

Tayla Roy and son Trevor - Tayla works part-time with David Crowe

Director of Missionary Assistance Richard Atwood (me) and wife Sandy

From the Board and Staff -
To all of our home missionaries and their families
and all of our home mission supporters:

We hope you will have a  MERRY CHRISTMAS!
And a WONDERFUL 2013!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Missionary News

Daryl Grimes in Erie, PA - "Praise God we have closed on our building! It was so exciting to stand before our people and hold the deed of the building in my hand. Only God could make this possible! In just a few days we should receive word that our loan has been paid in full. Keep in mind we have only been having weekly services since Easter of this year and we already own a building that is debt free! No payments, no
more rent, no setting up and tearing down. Only God could make this possible! In this building we now call our own I had the privilege to lead Marc to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He prayed a prayer of tearful repentance and faith in our prayer room. I felt like I was in the labor and delivery room as a new
child was born into the family of God. Only God could make this possible!

Another new building - Scott Warren in Salt Lake City had the dedication for their new building last week.  They will have a Grand Opening Service on October 7.

Jeff Cates in Canyon, TX says they are ready for the drywall in their new educational wing.  The church plans on going self-supporting next year.

Jose Correa in Puerto Rico reports that 6 people were baptized in August!

75 people attended the service and pig roast recently in Rochester, NY.  2 people were saved that day!  Dana Booth and Jim Martin minister there.

In nearby Buffalo, NY, Brian Williams said that two people were baptized last Sunday!

Larry Reynolds in Meridian, MS had 3 people saved there recently!

Tim Riggs in Mobile, AL had 3 people saved and 6 baptized in August!

David Sexton and Marc Neppl in Suffolk, VA had a Community Day at their church on a recent Saturday with 400 to 500 people attending!  David says he was hoping for more than the 154 that came on Sunday, but they did have 35 first-time visitors!

Talked to Jeff Goodman in Marana, AZ yesterday.  They had 93 people on Sunday with 4 people saved!  Then a man from their church went out that afternoon and led two more people to faith in Christ!
He and Josh Bennett have started 2 small groups in their homes.  Two important subjects - marriage now and finances coming in next 8 weeks.

Chad Kivette (going to Clarksville, TN) has had good success raising support.  He started in June and already has 80% of his goal!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Our family used to be mystery shoppers.  Different restaurants would reimburse us for the cost of the meal if we filled out a form evaluating our experience.  Years ago, we had 4 children at home and didn't make much money, so we were happy to do it.  Eat out for free!
The restaurant wanted to know if the bathrooms were clean, how long we waited for our food, if the food was good, etc.  Why did they give us free meals?  To evaluate how they were doing.

If I was a church planter or pastor today, I would hire a mystery shopper.  Maybe you could give them a gift certificate to a restaurant if they visited your church and then answered some questions.
Here are some possible questions:

1. Was the church easy to find?
2. Was it easy to park your car?
3. Were there enough signs to let you know where to go?
4. Did church start on time?
5. Did you receive a friendly reception?
6. Tell what you thought about the service - the music, preaching, length.
7. What did you like?  What didn't you like?

You could come up with questions of your own.
None of us like criticism, but I think this would be easier because we are asking for feedback.
All of us have blind spots.  That's no sin.  But being too arrogant or lazy to try and do better may be.
Let's get some help in evaluating what we are doing.  Then hopefully we can improve.

Not only will people be more likely to come back a second time, but your regular people will be more likely to invite their friends!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


A new church is getting started in Champaign, Urbana, Illinois - The Fields Church.
Church Planter Tyler Penn says the Fields Church name signified two thoughts -
all the corn fields around the towns
the fields near and far that he wants the church to reach.

The church meets in a photography studio.  It is close to downtown Urbana (and the University of Illinois) and the rent is cheap.

Sandy and I went to be with the Penns  last weekend for their 2nd preview service.
The chairs are all set up before the service.

Refreshments were available before church.  Most of the crowd was young people.

Kyle did a good job leading worship.

Here is Tyler as he starts to preach.  He started on the stool and would stand periodically.  His sermon was on Lost and Found and he did a good job.

Kellie (Tyler's wife in yellow sweater) helps to pack up after the service.  She taught the children during the service.

Almost everyone helped tear down and pack up after service.

The chairs didn't have to be loaded in the trailer, but almost everything else did.

Tyler took me out on Monday and showed me around the two cities of Champaign and Urbana.
Here is Tyler in front of the Quad at the University of Illinois.
The University of Illinois has over 40,000 students and thousands of them are from other countries.  Two of the biggest student groups are from China and India.  What an opportunity to reach young people in these countries that are closed to new missionaries!

Tyler, Kellie, Mason, Millie, and Madden
They would love to have people move there to help them in this exciting work.

Friday, September 14, 2012


The 2nd weekend of September, Sandy and I went to Mobile, Alabama to visit the home mission church there.
Missionary pastor Tim Riggs took us to Lamberts Cafe - the home of the throwed rolls.
On the left beside Sandy is Andrew and Caleb Riggs.  The oldest son, Stephen, had to work
On the right is Tim and Angie Riggs in the forefront.  
Blake and Cassie Nance and their daughter also went with us.  Blake works with the youth.

Tim is trying to catch a roll.

Tim before church looking for those people to come.

Sandy and I spoke on marriage in the men's and women's SS classes.
Here is everyone gathering for church.
The building was about full with 111 people attending.

Blake leads the singing while Tim looks on.

After the service.

Tim and Angie at lunch.

The church had a Marriage Banquet in their gym on Sunday night.  Sandy and I spoke and did a skit.

Here is Tim eating again.

JL Gore and his wife, Dot, have retired and are living in south Mississippi.  They drive over to attend church in Mobile. The Gores were very successful church planters - starting 3 Free Will Baptist churches.

Tim and Angie Riggs and the folks there have done a great job in Mobile!


Several pastors of churches that support home missions made a trip with their wives to visit California and see a couple of home mission churches there.  This was on Labor Day weekend.
We started our trip in San Francisco.
You can see the San Francisco skyline in the background.

We visited Alcatraz (former prison).  This is my wife, Sandy, in front of a normal cell(5 feet by 9 feet).  Al Capone occupied a cell just like this at Alcatraz.  There is a sermon illustration there somewhere.

On Saturday night, singer-comedian Aaron Wilburn performed in Greenfield.  Home Missionary Jim Kilgore had rented the Community Center for this show.  Aaron Wilburn had everyone laughing.

 Sunday morning was time for service in Greenfield.  The church has a small building, but it wouldn't hold the crowd, so we met in the park in the middle of town.  The weather was beautiful.

Here is Jim Kilgore laughing with someone before service.  Board member Ron Parker is seated.

 During the service.

Cliff Donoho and Scott and Kristi Coghill did a great job singing!

 David Crowe with Jim and Tracey Kilgore.
The Greenfield church celebrates its 2nd anniversary in October.  The Kilgores have done a terrific job. Their building is getting full and they are trying to figure out how to get more space.

I didn't get a picture because my hands were full, but the Greenfield church prepared a nice meal for us to eat on the bus.
We drove down to the Los Angeles area for a Sunday evening service with the home mission church at Castaic.

Aaron Wilburn performed again.

Everyone is enjoying the service.

A men's quartet did a great job singing that night!  From left to right - Scott Coghill, Jay Baines, Darin Gibbs, and Travis Moots.

Home Missionary Keith Bartlett has had a lot of health problems lately.  After a second hip replacement for the same hip, Keith is walking on a cane.

The church was kind in providing food after the service.

Here is the Home Mission team in Castaic:
Ray and Iris Hollifield and Keith and Janet Bartlett
They are salt of the earth people!
The church plans to go self-supporting in a few months.

The group got together for a picture before everyone headed home on Monday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Usually summer is a slower time in church work, but a lot of good things have been happening in home mission churches this summer.

Bill Reynolds and the church in Rhode Island had their new building dedication this past Sunday.  The place was packed with 200 people!  4 people were saved

The Marana, Arizona church with Jeff Goodman and Josh Bennett celebrated their first anniversary this past Sunday with 101 people present!

Donnie Burke and Mark McCraney stepped out into a cold Colorado river recently to baptize 10 people there!

Tim Osborn and the folks in Oakland, Tennessee had to tear down a wall in their rental building to make more room.  Broke the record last Sunday with 79!  80 will be soon, then 90, then 100!

Here’s an example of sowing the seed and harvesting later from Jeff Crabtree in New Brunswick:
Several years ago for about ten years our church bought a daily 30-second radio spot and I gave a one or two sentence devotional "thought for the day." An older gentlemen used to listen to those. One of our men invited him to our church several months ago.  He and his wife now come regularly and bring their great grandkids with them.  This couples' daughter and son-in-law started attending about the same time and her daughter and husband (parents of the children) came once.  Yesterday the son-in-law prayed to receive Jesus as Saviour and all four generations with their spouses were in service this morning.
The church there will have their self-supporting service in November.

Jim Kilgore in California just led a man to the Lord that he had been talking to for 2 ½ years.

Allen Hall in Pennsylvania baptized 5 people last Sunday and 4 more people want to be baptized soon!

Jose Correa and the church in Puerto Rico averaged 100 in July!

Other good averages for July:

Jeff Cates in Texas96!

Stephen Gray in Illinois105!

David Sexton and Marc Neppl in Virginia – 107!

Scott Warren is leading the church in Salt Lake City into a merger with another local church.  This means a bigger building, more people, and more opportunity!

Two more church planters were approved at the convention:
Edgar Chavez going to a suburb of Los Angeles, California
Heath Ferguson going to a suburb of Houston, Texas

God is still working and good things are still happening!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I heard Larry Osborne (author of Sticky Church ) say in a seminar:

"In a large church, the pastor's performance (preaching, leadership) is most important.
In a small church, the biggest question is, DOES THE PASTOR LOVE ME?"

Whether you agree or not, I think we realize that it is important for people to know their pastor loves them.  It may not even be a conscious thought.  But I have found that people will put up with a lot if they feel the pastor loves them and they love the pastor.

One of the keys to church growth is - take care of the people you already have.
This does two things:
1. It helps close the back door (people leaving the church).
2. People want to invite their friends to church (without that worthless exercise by the pastor every week - "Invite someone to church this week."

Consider these two verses:

"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common."  Acts 4:32

"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."  Galatians 6:10

In the New Testament church, people were a part of a family where they were cared for.
In the 21st century church, people want to be part of a family where they are cared for.

In a new church or a small church, we can't have all the programs of a large church...
But we can love people!

7 ideas on how to show church people they are loved:

1. Talk good about your people.  When you say bad things about the church people behind their backs, it is hard to really love them.  When you don't really love them - they sense your true feelings.

2. Show appreciation.  How about making a habit of writing at least one thank you letter every week?  And I do mean real mail.

3. Be there for people in the special times of their lives - graduation, new baby, wedding, sickness, death of loved one.

4. Talk to everyone in your church - every Sunday.  Once you get over a few hundred this becomes impossible.  But in a church of 100, everyone should get a smile and warm welcome from the pastor.

5. Know their names and use them.  Know the names of their children.  Know the name of their dog.

6. Help people to get connected to other people in the church.  This can happen through church dinners, fun events, Sunday School, small groups, having people over for dessert, etc.

7. Listen.

To get a church bigger, I think we have to look small -
How well do we care for one person?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I've heard some church planters or pastors talk about how they only wanted to reach out to unsaved people. I get that. Our goal isn't to just empty out other churches to fill ours.  Here are some thoughts I have on this:

1. Having some more Christians can help you reach out to the unsaved.  They can invite, work with children, pray, teach, help pay bills, etc.  When you are small, just having more warm bodies helps.

2. Surely God loves believers as much as He does unbelievers.

3. There are a whole lot of people in America who say they are Christians and aren't going to church.  They need the truth and love of our churches.

4. Maybe you will reach some people who attend churches that don't teach the Bible.  I'm all for getting them.

5. Some people who move from church to church can be critical people and others want to spread their own doctrine. Know what you believe and stand firm.  Your church isn't for everyone.  (In Delaware, we had a lot of Christians that came to our church for one reason or another and became a huge blessing to the church and became like our family.  But we also averaged 25 baptisms a year.)

6. I certainly don't want us to forget our goal of preaching the gospel to everyone.

I like this quote from Sticky Church by Larry Osborne.  (recommended book)
"One pastor recently told me that he didn't want any Christians come to his new church plant.  He only wanted non-Christians searching for God, and new Christians who'd recently come to Christ.  
On one hand, I understand where he's coming from.  He's tired of dealing with small-minded traditionalists who want to maintain a historical preservation society more than fulfill the mission. 
But on the other hand, I fear for the unintended consequences of his outlook.  If he's only going to reach out to non-Christians and nurture new Christians, what's he going to do when those new Christians become plain ol' Christians, the kind he hates to be around?
His patience and compassion flow easily toward people caught in the addictive clutches of sin. He thinks the rough language and butchered theology of a new Christian is cool, sort of like the things little kids say and do.  But two or three years later his patience runs thin and the compassion runs dry when he realizes that these cute new Christians are still dealing with the same old issues.
At that point he leaves the "slow growers" to fend for themselves.  Many quietly make their way out the back door, though he never seems to notice in the excitement of all the new folks coming through the front door.
There's another large group of churches at the opposite end of the spectrum.  These are the ingrown and dying churches that don't seem to care if anyone ever comes through the front door - or goes to hell, for that matter."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Since we were expecting the birth of our new grandson in upstate New York, we decided to visit some home missionaries on the way.

Here are Marc and Casie Neppl of Suffolk, Virginia.  We stayed at their house for the weekend.
On Saturday, their friends took us all out on a fun boat ride. 

This is the church on Sunday morning.  They recently moved a wall and made a lot more space.  We had a great crowd even though David and Charity Sexton were on vacation.

 Here is Marc leading the service.

Sandy and I left Sunday afternoon and drove up to Delaware to stay with our friends Jay and Annette Baines.  Here is a picture of Jay.  He is an Associate Missionary - pastoring a church of 450 with 2 Sunday morning services, while starting a new church and speaking there on Sunday evening.

We traveled from Delaware to York, Pennsylvania. It was good to spend some time with Allen and Jenny Hall who are starting a church in York.

We closed up our suitcases again and headed to Rochester, New York.  It was good to be with the church there on Sunday.  Here are the home missionaries there - Dana and Betty Booth and Jim and Sylvia Martin.
Like all of our missionaries, they are salt of the earth people.

Buffalo, New York is only about 1 1/2 hours from Rochester, so we went over to see the team there. Naturally, we went out to eat together.  Brian and Emily Williams are on the right with their 3 children in the front.  Tim and Amanda York are on the left with their baby.

I'm holding Bryson York here.  Tim said he would send this picture to his dad and say, "Richard says Ha Ha."

Back to Rochester for the Big Day - the birth of my grandson!
This is my son, Nathan, and his wife, Rachel, with my new grandson, William.

Jim and Sylvia Martin are also the grandparents to William.

It is hard to see much of William since the nurses had him all bundled up.

One more picture of this good-looking boy.  We are very thankful!