What's Next for Home Missions?
Home Missions: Where Do We Go From Here?
By David Crowe
For 75 years, Free Will Baptist Home Missions has served this denomination by planting churches in North America, endorsing military chaplains, promoting church growth and evangelism, preaching revivals, teaching seminars, encouraging pastors and missionaries, and educating our people about our wonderful heritage as Free Will Baptists.
For 19 of those 75 years, I have worked on the staff of Home Missions. I came 19 years ago to help Trymon Messer accomplish the things he felt God had called him to do as director of Home Missions. I worked for five years as director of missionary assistance and visited 20 to 25 mission works each year to encourage, educate, and equip our missionaries.
When Trymon hired Richard Atwood, he served as director of missionary assistance, and I became director of church growth and began visiting 45 to 50 established churches each year for revival, fellowship, encouragement, and public relations for Home Missions. I served in that capacity for six years. When Dr. Richard Adams retired, I became director of development, overseeing the Church Extension Loan Fund (CELF) while continuing my responsibilities as director of church growth. I served seven years in that capacity. On December 1, 2013, I became executive director of the Home Missions Department and find myself well into my first year in that capacity.
I review my history with Home Missions because I want you to understand how I came to this position and place. Many hours and days have been spent researching our history as Free Will Baptists. After 25 years of studying our heritage, I believe I have a good perspective of where we have been as Free Will Baptists. I have traveled across the denomination for 18 years, and I have crossed all the “lines and boundaries” within our denomination as I attempted to serve all Free Will Baptists. I have a pretty good perception of Free Will Baptists. Knowing where we have been and knowing where we are helps us understand where we need to go from here.
So, where do we go from here?
I don’t pretend to know where the entire denomination needs to go, but I feel that God has placed me in Home Missions and given me a vision of where the department needs to go. First, you will no longer hear us use the term home missionaries. We will refer to our missionaries as church planters because that’s what we send them out to do.
Second, you will hear us call our department, North American Ministries. We have been called a lot of things over the years, such as Home Missions, National Home Missions, Free Will Baptist Home Missions, etc. None of these names are the official name from our charter. (I could give you that name, but this article is long enough already.) We are not changing our official name, but we will refer to our department as North American Ministries.
Home Missions is just one part—though it is a large part—of what we do. We also are the endorsing agency for Free Will Baptist military chaplains. We are the evangelism and church growth arm of the denomination, and we loan money to Free Will Baptist churches through the Church Extension Loan Fund. These are all important areas of responsibility, but I want to share some additional things we will do.
Dr. Brad Ransom was hired from a mission position in Oklahoma to be the director of church planting. He has graduate degrees in both church planting and church revitalization. Brad has already revised, updated, and upgraded all of our church planting materials and the application and evaluation process for church planting candidates. He brings a new level of professionalism and expertise to this position. We intend to plant more churches and see church plants become self-supporting more quickly.
Rev. Jim McComas came to Home Missions from an extremely successful 21-year pastorate in Creston, Ohio, to be the director of church revitalization. It has bothered me for years that Free Will Baptists have so many small, struggling churches that, while not mission churches, are not really vital self-supporting churches. Many close their doors each year.
We want to do some things to help these churches, so Jim, Brad, and I will offer specific help, seminars, conferences, and programs to revitalize these struggling congregations. Jim McComas brings enthusiasm and excitement to this position. His preaching is stirring and motivational, and his singing is always a blessing.
Our board selected retired Chaplain Kerry Steedley to be advisor in chaplain support for our department. As the endorsing agency for military chaplains, we want to be able to give Free Will Baptist chaplains and their families the recognition and support they deserve as they minister to men and women in our Armed Forces. Chaplain Steedley brings professionalism and a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide us to an effective plan of support for these “ministers in uniform.”
We believe we can accomplish much more together than we can alone, so we will partner with other national departments to do more for the glory of God. Currently, we are partnering with International Missions to reach international students attending colleges and universities in the United States. We are partnering with Randall House and the Youth Evangelistic Team as they visit and minister in church plants each summer. We are partnering with our colleges to provide 10-week summer internships with church planters, thus building the pool of future church planters for Free Will Baptists. We are partnering with WNAC and Master’s Men for men and women’s ministries among Free Will Baptists.
We recently proposed a merger of Master’s Men and Home Missions that would bring the department under the umbrella of Home Missions. Master’s Men will remain intact, with all its present assets, but will minister and operate under the direction of Home Missions. This will enhance the mission and ministry of both departments, and enhance the opportunities for men’s ministries in our churches and denomination. We continue to cooperate with and support the Board of Retirement and FWB Foundation, as well as the Executive Office and Executive Secretary Keith Burden.
I have shared many exciting new directions in this article, but we want to accomplish still more for Free Will Baptists and for the Kingdom of God. God has placed me in a position I could never have imagined, working with some of the finest Christian servants I know. They encourage and support me daily. Our department of seven employees has a combined 105 years of experience at Home Missions. That blows my mind!
Home Missions didn’t start yesterday. This department has been faithful for 75 years under the leadership and direction of some of the finest men I have known. I don’t know why God has allowed me to walk in this place, but I do know I will follow the giants who walked before me (and it’s easy to follow the footprints of giants).
Will you support us as we begin the next 75 years? Will you help us have a record Mission: North America Offering this November? Will you partner with us as we partner with other departments, churches, and Free Will Baptist men and women across our denomination? Will you join us in North American Ministries? I believe with all my heart and soul that you will.
Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, your love, your kindness, your financial support, and your trust.
About the Writer: Dr. H. David Crowe is executive director of Home Missions. Learn more at www.homemissions.net.