Bro. Frank Bounds, tell us about yourself and your ministry.
My wife, Debbie, and I are career church planters. Between my two sons and me, we have started 11 churches, and I am currently starting a new church in Ripley, West Virginia. I also took one church with two members, one with four and one with 11 and built them up and turned them over to pastors. Building and starting new churches has been my life’s blood since 1990. My sons have often told me that whenever I speak of starting a new church I get a light in my eyes that seems to burn with the passion and burden that I carry for the lost and the work of God. Starting a church is not always an easy task; you have to be willing to commit and sacrifice, and you must know for sure that it is the will of God or it will not succeed.
Why did you want to start a new church?
The first time I felt a burden to start a church I was an evangelist driving through an area and saw that there was a great need in that area for a church. The burden would not leave, so after much prayer the Lord increased the burden on my heart, and we responded to it. We stepped out on faith and sold our home. You have to learn to trust God and walk by faith.
What was it like to start a church?
Going back again to the first time we started a church, the Lord had changed the burden on my heart from evangelism to home missions work. My wife and I sold the house we were living in as well as our farm. And then we went to the town of Glen Ferris, West Virginia where God had called us. We bought an ancient 100-year-old school house and built a little apartment in the back for us to live in. We began to conduct church services in one room of the ugly four-room schoolhouse. Looking back, I wonder why anyone would want to come to that terrible-looking building, but people began to come. We knocked on doors throughout the entire town, as well as the neighboring city and communities. People began to come and word of mouth spread. We grew and saw many miracles performed there. Today, there is a beautiful building in Glen Ferris pastored by Sal Bria, a young man we won from the Catholic church.
Parkersburg, W.Va. was a completely different challenge. I was very afflicted most of the time. I had seven surgeries in 17 months, and one was a double fusion. The church was birthed in great pain.
How did you get people to support your vision of starting a new church?
We had people praying for us. We had made a lot of friends while evangelizing, and they supported us in our vision. Also, they supported when we started the second church, which was under the North American Missions (NAM) program, metro missions. It was in Salt Lake City, Utah. A large part of our budget was raised at General Conference in Salt Lake City.
Where did you get the financial support to start the church?
It was really a God thing. People from all around the country sent financial support. There was a gentleman in Utah that had closed his church and donated us a significant amount. In each church we have started, it was a little different. The first church we started we received $2,700 Sheaves for Christ (SFC). It seems everywhere we go God supplies the need in some way, shape or form. In Parkersburg, we received SFC and Christmas for Christ (CFC). We are forever indebted to the Youth and NAM Departments.
What approach works best in reaching the lost?
There are different ways that work better to reach the people of each area. But one thing is for certain; you always have to be energetic about it. When we were in Utah, we always made it a priority to knock on doors every Saturday. And before the youth were allowed to play ball, they had to door knock at least a block. Even the Mormon young folks would help us so they could play ball with our youth group. As I have mentioned, you have to be passionate and excited when you are talking about Jesus. When you win souls, it becomes contagious for the rest of the church, and the excitement spreads. We didn’t have to beg people to come to outreach; they automatically came. We would meet in our home and teach people discipleship classes. We taught 2,700 discipleship and home Bible studies in four years. We would work six days a week, 80 hours a week. Remember, people love positive people.
What type of obstacles did you face during the process of starting a church?
One of the biggest problems or obstacles we faced was not finances or winning the lost but loneliness. There are cities that have more people in them than what would be possible to reach by one church. A lot of the time, pastors want cities to themselves. When you have ministers that are unwilling to work together to see the kingdom grow, it is a sad thing. Eighty percent of church plants fail, but 80 percent of daughter works succeed. The difference is the support from another church. If you don’t have anyone to fellowship with, it gets lonely. There were some people that would discourage us, saying we couldn’t build a congregation in the area, and when we began to grow some tried to find a negative reason why we were growing. For example, “He must be a compromiser” or “He gives free meals each Sunday,” etc. That kind of mindset is dangerous, because if you believe you can’t have revival then you won’t have revival. It’s a lack of faith. Bishop Haney sat down with me before I went to one area and said, “Now don’t pay attention to critics; you ignore them and build a church.” I have tried to live by that. Bro. T.F. Tenney once said, “Don’t pay any attention to the poodle ankle biters; all they can do is make noise.”
What got you through those hard times and obstacles?
What got us through those obstacles? Reaching more souls. The first couple of years I missed my kids and grandkids so much I wanted to just lie on the floor and weep. But when a person would walk in, repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, it would ease the loneliness and make it all worthwhile. We kept teaching Bible studies and reaching for the lost. Almost every service we would have someone come and repent. The church in Parkersburg, which we turned over to my oldest son David, is in great revival. We have outgrown our current building and are buying a larger building. The remodel is in progress. We had retired, but God came to me in a dream and told me a street he wanted a church on in Ripley. When I followed the GPS directions, there was an empty church building on the spot where God told me to plant the next church. The people who own the building are excited and say they know it is a God thing. One is a judge who has the Holy Ghost. Debbie and I covet your prayers as we endeavor to plant one more church.