What's Next for Home Missions?
by Clifford D. Donoho
My wife Kathy and I set out to plant our first church in April 1984. We have since completed three Home Missions church plants and are working on a fourth. My, how things have changed! We often get the question, “Why would you want to plant another church, and how do you keep going?” It is a one-word answer—determination.
Defining determination is simple: absolutely nothing worthwhile in life happens without effort. The only way you coast is when you’re going downhill. Paul said, “I fight to the finish.” That statement makes for good preaching, but church planting is difficult, and the dynamics and people have changed completely. We have moved from reaching Baby Boomers to Millennials.
It’s a little scary to know the strategies that worked in previous church plants do not work now. The methods that reached people in previous decades do not work today, and I fear many Free Will Baptist churches will close their doors because they refuse to change methods of reaching the unchurched.
I recently read an article by Mark Miller that describes Millenials:
Millennials want ongoing feedback and coaching, Millennials want casual Friday every day or whenever they choose, Millennials think they should be able to create their own schedule. Working nine to five is an artifact of previous generations. Millennials aren’t all about the money. Millennials like transparency at work. They want to be part of a community; they understand its power. Millennials see the work place as flat. They believe it should be a place where the best idea wins, regardless of your title or tenure.
How do we approach and reach Millennials? What will drive us as individuals and churches, to change our methods and refocus our strategies to make our churches attractive to the unchurched? Determination.
Free Will Baptists have some great new churches, with great church planters who continue to reach people. How? Determination! They have a driving passion within them that will not allow them to quit. The great people in life are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. They don’t know how to stop. They keep on going. They never give up.
Consider the terms Paul used in Philippians 3:13-14: press on toward the mark; for the prize. You can almost feel his intensity, his determination. The Greek phrase interpreted press on could be translated, “I overextend myself; I go for it with all I’ve got; I throw myself into it, straining with every nerve and ounce and muscle to reach the prize.” Paul was a man of intensity and maximum effort. That’s the way to live.
What would happen if Christians put as much energy into growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as they do into making money or their favorite sport? Acts 20:24 reminds us, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
This is Paul’s life verse. He made it clear he would not stop; he would never give up or quit. He would keep going until he experienced all God has for him. He wanted to finish the purpose for which God made him. Paul was determined to finish what he started.
I do not like the words quit or impossible. God says all things are possible in Him. Yet the world is full of quitters, those who throw in the towel at the drop of a hat. They give up on their business, their marriage, their kids, relationships, and dreams. We find Paul’s last recorded words in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Paul was the model of determination. He never quit. More than anything else, I want to be able to say, like Paul, that I too finished the race, fought the good fight, and kept the faith.
Galatians 6:9 encourages the Christian not to be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Don’t give up! Keep dreaming. You will reap a harvest at the proper time—God’s time. We can reach both boomers and millennials if we continue learning and changing our methods to reach the next generation of the unchurched. We can rest assured in the promise of Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
What God starts, He finishes. He doesn’t leave us “out on a limb.” We can be sure that if we do our part, God will do His part. Our new church in Tallahassee, Florida, is a place where we don’t care about a person’s past. We are interested in the direction he or she is headed now. You see, that’s what matters—today, not yesterday. It is crucial to find the right direction and keep going.
Paul clearly described the crown waiting for him in Heaven. He was anticipating the eternal rewards, the result of remaining faithful. I can’t help but think of the words of the familiar gospel song: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.” That’s determination!
About the Writer: Cliff Donoho answered the call to preach in 1977 and received his first pastorate in 1979. He has spent most of his ministry as a church planter, and he is currently planting The Oaks FWB Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Cliff and his wife Kathy have two children, son Chad and daughter Janice.