Rev. Doug and Terrah Jones planted New Hope Wesleyan Church in Hornell, N.Y., a town of 8,000, just five years ago. Doug grew up in the area. He attended Houghton College, then served in the military. When he returned, he went on staff at rural Buena Vista Wesleyan Church for 13 years. When Buena Vista decided to plant a daughter church in Hornell, 11 miles away, Doug and Terrah were ready.
They began with a launch team of 70 people (35 adults) from Buena Vista. Since then, they have bought a 1930’s Catholic Church building and remodeled it. In the fourth year, they averaged 248 in attendance.
Doug is passionate about meeting and talking to people who don’t yet know Christ.
Folks ask him, “How is your church doing?” He answers, “I don’t have a church. This is a God-thing. God has a great church here, and together our people partner with God in eternal work.”
An important ministry tool for the church is Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ, by Greg Ogden. Doug said, “It’s a great catechism. It’s foundational for us.”
Doug feels that the church building is like the locker room where the team trains. But the real work goes on outside the walls where they meet people. They have children’s programs, but other than that, they don’t want to run a lot of programs in the church. They have gifted people, but Doug wants them to use ministry time to build relationships and invite people who need Jesus Christ into their lives.
The church is known for serving the city in practical ways. They repair unsafe structures, do cleanups, and repair cars for people who need help. These services contribute to their mission of reaching people. They also open their facility for community groups to use: Taekwondo Club, Bone Builders Club, etc. The idea is to knock down barriers and build relationships that God can use.
Some church planters might be satisfied to reach 250 in attendance. But for Doug, his first thought is: “Are there unsaved people in Hornell? The mission has just begun. Each person needs an opportunity to respond to the good news.”
See “New Life in Upstate New York” for more great stories of what is happening there.