Kids shining the Light lead Jehovah’s Witness out of darkness

By Anthony Banks

In July, Second Baptist hosted a week-long project that had a tremendous impact in our community of Turrell, Arkansas. There are a few testimonies that I would like to share, but first—would you like to know who was behind the Lord’s work? It was kids!  

This summer we hosted our second annual Backyard Bible Club. It was four full days of Bible camp with kids from our church and from First Baptist Church Rogers. In the morning, we taught the kids about the Bible through songs and skits. Then in the afternoon, for three of the four days, we took them out to Help in the Community (what I like to call HIT-C). The kids helped the elderly of Turrell with their chores and yardwork, and they also did other services like washing down the public library. With First Baptist’s 55 kids and 35 of our own, there were 90 kids total learning about the Lord who then went out to serve our community!

But what I think really resonated with the people in our community was how our churches took the kids to knock on doors. At each house we would share the Gospel and pray with them. Together, we knocked on every door in Turrell—and most we knocked on twice! I would say that about 50 percent of the people we spoke with were not in church or were attending another church besides Second Baptist.

Block party 3By the end of the week, we saw 10 professions of faith from knocking on doors! In addition to this, on Saturday members of the Missions Team at the Arkansas Baptist Convention coordinated a block party and medical-dental clinic at Second Baptist. More than 100 people from the community attended, the medical-dental clinic saw 40 patients, and six people received Christ. Praise God!

Now here’s a testimony you need to know, too. Something that God appointed and made happen as a result of our church and First Baptist Rogers coming together to do His work…

While working in the community, one of our groups noticed a man standing on the sidewalk at the post office. A young girl from First Baptist told the chaperone and driver, Bro. Jerry Bolander (and pastor of FBC Rogers), “I want to stop and talk to this man.” When they got out of the car to talk with him, they discovered that he was a Jehovah’s Witness. He was sarcastic with them, so they reluctantly got back in the car and drove to a neighborhood to begin knocking on doors.

Well, the first door they knocked on was this man’s door! But he acted the same way he had before, so the group continued their work. When they told me later about what had happened, they said it was on their heart to go back to his home and talk with him again.

And when they did go back—this time to invite him to Bible study—he was different. He apologized for how he had treated them because he had seen how the kids were doing things for the community. That night he came to Bible study and talked again about his guilt for treating the kids that way. He gave his testimony in front of the group and finished saying, “I’m walking in darkness.”

{ That night he came to Bible study and talked again about his guilt for treating the kids that way. He gave his testimony in front of the group and finished saying, “I’m walking in darkness.” }

I came down from the pulpit and witnessed to him, “If you want to get out of that darkness, Jesus can take you out.” That’s when he received Christ! We all gathered around and prayed for him after. He has asked that I baptize him once he recovers from a recent surgery.

That week a lot of folk, even those who did not receive Christ, responded to what we had done in Turrell. When they saw the way we were serving and knocking on doors to pray with them, they testified, “Nobody has ever done things like you are doing.” I’m praying now that these people will come out to see us at Second Baptist because they know we care about them.

Now we have a vision to go beyond Turrell. Next year we want to do this in Turrell again but also expand to Gilmore by working with our new partner, First Baptist Church Marion. We won’t stop in our Jerusalem; we’re moving now to go to Judea!

Your prayers and giving to the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering support me and my church plant, and we are able to carry out this Acts 1:8 model because of you. And I want to continue going out into my community and neighboring communities—combining efforts with other churches who have the same heart—to reach souls, like the 16 people and the Jehovah’s Witness, who needed to hear the Gospel right here in Arkansas!



Disciple-making starts at home: “I watch their faith and their dedication to trust and follow me because I follow Jesus”

By Izah Broadus

When people think about the ministry of a church, they probably think of the pastors and ministers and what they do. What people might take for granted? The ministers’ families!  

Our family talks about the ministry at New Faith. I mean, it’s a big part of our lives. I make sure my family is involved—that they are not just members but they are also growing in the Lord and growing with the church.

But something I always want to make sure of is that I’m not pressuring them into something. My hope is that they will seek the Lord because they want to. Like Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) At the same time, I watch their faith and their dedication to trust and follow me because I follow Jesus.

Right now our family lives in Little Rock, and we have two daughters in Pine Bluff. Because of the distance, my girls are not able to be a part of everything that happens at the church. Even so, God is using our family to make an impact.

My wife isn’t in West Helena all the time, but when she is in town the young ladies come to her for advice and look up to her. And our children! They have a funny, on-going argument about who is going to open the service or read Scripture for our Youth Sunday every month. It’s amazing how God is using them to bring others to the church and bringing them into a relationship with Jesus.

In the last few weeks, my wife has been talking about how it’s time for us to move to West Helena. It brought joy to my heart to know that she sees what God is doing in West Helena through New Faith! I think I almost cried because it has been on my heart and I didn’t want to pressure her into moving.

After a lot of prayer, we both feel that’s what God is leading our family to do. Please be in prayer for us as we are looking at some houses and plan to make that transition at the end of the year.

Seeing God’s hand

Because we see how God has blessed what we are doing, we have dreams. With the after-school program and our six-week summer program (starting June 12) bringing new kids to New Faith, we want to continue creating more events that focus on children and youth. We want the church to be open every day of the week!

And we have lots of helpers. My kids and other youth in the church are eager to be there and eager to serve. I’ve also seen God’s anointing on a young man named Stanley.

Stanley—who is now 17 years old—came to New Faith with his father about a year ago. Even though his dad left, Stanley stayed. I’m amazed when I hear him talk, and all the kids in the church look up to him.

I thought that Stanley would want to find himself a job after just graduating from high school, but he wants to be involved in what the church is doing. He plays the drums for New Faith, and he volunteers with our after-school program. I’ve noticed how he mentors the kids, and I think about how he could have easily found a job instead. But God has used him here!  

Actually, Stanley recently said he feels God is leading him into ministry. He wants to stick around at the church and go to a local community college to continue his education.

God is truly at work in New Faith Baptist Church and West Helena!

A community of strangers

By Andrew Munneke

I have two young boys: Asher who is 3 and August who is 15 months old. It’s needless to say, but our house is a symphony of rambunctious screams, discordant torment, and the occasional plea for a parental figure to come and fix everything. Anyone with young children knows that your house can turn from tranquility to calamity in an instant.

This happened to me one Friday morning. Known affectionately around our house as “Dude Day,” most Friday’s I take the boys to a local bakery for donuts. (Because every “Dude Day” needs an enormous amount of sugar. It’s part of the man code.)

Now I usually have a “no cell phone” rule when it’s just me and the boys, but this particular day my phone kept buzzing with situations I needed to address. So I would glance at my boys, then look down at my phone and type. Glance up—Ok, still eating donuts—glance back down at the glowing screen and keep typing. Glance up, and just like that my 3-year-old had unscrewed the pepper shaker on the table and was pouring pepper all over my donuts. Solid prank, but a terrible seasoning for donuts.

I think for many Christians right now it seems like almost overnight, or a quick glimpse down at our phones, that suddenly everything has changed and we have been pushed into the margins of our culture. Especially here in the South, the church has had a position of privilege within our society, but we are finally realizing an environmental shift has taken place.

But living on the margins of society is nothing new for the church. In fact, the early church boomed within the Roman context in which it lived as a compelling, contrastive community that didn’t seek relevance and conformity as its goal within the culture but sought to challenge and contradict that cultural good. In other words, the church was salt and light living in a decaying and darkening world. 

The Western church has lost that, and we need to get it back.

Moving “beyond” Christianity

It is almost universally acknowledged that we live in a Post-Christian culture. This does not mean that our culture has shifted back to a Pre-Christian worldview but that it has “progressed” beyond Christianity, all while “feasting upon its fruits.” The creed of modern-day progressive elites proclaims the dignity of all human beings, the eradication of poverty, tolerance of all beliefs and worldviews, and the supremacy of science as the sole arbiter of truth.

In this creed it’s clear that there is still a yearning for the Kingdom of God and for shalom to be restored, but there is no mention of Holy God. The foundation of these philosophies is birthed out of the Christian mission and reconciliation, yet there is one major difference: the elevation and reign of the individual will.

{ The creed of modern-day progressive elites proclaims the dignity of all human beings, the eradication of poverty, tolerance of all beliefs and worldviews, and the supremacy of science as the sole arbiter of truth. }

The seeds of the exaltation-of-self began with Descartes, who famously proclaimed that all things must first be assumed as false until they can be proven true with his conclusion of, “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes has been called the father of the Age of Reason (the Enlightenment). He sparked the flames of the autonomous self and the idea that the individual, not a deity or even a collective community, determined right and wrong, true and false.

We see how the fruits of this idea really took-off in the 1950s with the rise of consumerism and materialism. Happiness, identity, and prosperity no longer were the reward for hard work and diligence—they could be bought. This rise of the consumerist individual paved the way for the sexual revolution in the 1960s and ‘70s with their sacred cows of abortion and divorce. The goal of life became the pursuit of happiness and pleasure, and because “I determine my own truth through reasoning” was the mantra, no system, government, or religious institution was able to convert them.

The church’s response to this new “culture war” seemed to be running to the courts and aligning themselves with a political party that would seek to enforce a biblical worldview upon those who opposed it. While Christians sought to capture the law of the land, the progressives pursued our imaginations through creative arts and cultural engagement. Entertainment highlighted this new individualized theology with themes of self-discovery through experiment, following passions in the face of opposition, and embracing individuals’ uniqueness. 

{ The goal of life became the pursuit of happiness and pleasure…no system, government, or religious institution was able to convert them. }

These combined ideologies of consumerism and a yearning for self-discovery began to influence how the church “reached lost people.” The goal of churches changed to becoming relevant to the culture. Sermons drifted towards self-help lessons. Churches started marketing themselves using “sales techniques” to differentiate themselves from other churches in town. Even worship songs drifted away lyrically from corporate declaration of praise and morphed into a more personal experience.

Simply put, the culture turned the church into another marketplace, one that sold religious goods and services to the masses, and the result was parishioners who now seek churches to fit their own needs instead of seeking to meet others’ needs (in contrast with the early church in Acts 2:44-45).

But recently the church moved back to the margins of society. How? For the past 40 years, the dominate message the culture has received from the church is “come to Jesus and it will improve the quality of your life.” Yet because the church has certain beliefs that do not hold up to modern sensibilities, casual churchgoers are discovering that identifying themselves with Jesus actually interferes with their quality of their life. 

Now I know I need to clarify what I am saying so that I am not misunderstood. The Gospel most definitely brings joy and an overwhelming affection for Christ. However, to declare “Jesus is Lord” and not “The culture is Lord” costs you something. Only those whose hearts have been captured by the Gospel can truly say, “You can take the world because I have Jesus.” But for those in our churches who have bought into a “prosperity gospel” that says “Jesus will make you happy,” they will leave our churches in droves when a life with Jesus leaves them persecuted instead of happy.

More than a compelling community?

I know for some of you, the current trajectory of the church’s relationship with our culture is a scary reality. However, am I more optimistic than ever for the future of the church if we embrace our role as a compelling minority within our culture! Here are just two reasons why:

1. The church was born and exploded on the margins of society, and it will not die at the margins of society.

In a pre-Christian context, everybody knew that their testimony could end with them losing their life, and in that context the church boomed! This is our heritage. In a Post-Christian context, we have to know that declaring “Jesus is Lord” probably won’t lead to us being killed, but it does mean that we might lose friends, our jobs, and a certain level of approval.

Do you really believe Jesus’s words: “the gates of hell will not prevail against the church”? (Matthew 16:18) If Christ is the one who builds, sustains, and grows the body, then nothing will hold us back!

2. Because of hyper-individualism, the world needs the church.

There has been a saying that “people love Jesus but not the church,” but in a Post-Christian context what we are beginning to see is people love the church but not Jesus. Let me give you an example of this.

A couple of years ago, a movement began in London called The Sunday Assembly. If you walked into one of their services on a Sunday morning, you would see a gathering of hip millennials from all different walks and stages of life gathering for reflection, community, and renewal. The thing is…they are all atheist and agnostic.

{ The Sunday Assembly started from a group of people who wanted the good things about church…this movement has planted 480 churches. }

The Sunday Assembly started from a group of people who wanted the good things about church—community, charitable deeds, being part of something bigger than yourself—but without all of the belief. This movement has exploded to over 480 congregations. You catch that?! This movement has planted 480 CHURCHES because hyper-individualism has left people lonely, lost, and with a yearning to be part of something bigger than themselves. 

One of the reasons why millennials are flocking to church plants and smaller churches right now is because they are yearning to be known and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. In other words, they don’t want to be the point of church.

What an opportunity for the church!

Welcoming & transforming

We knew when we planted The Hill Church that there were unbelievers who would not know Jesus until they knew His people first. That means we were to invite them into our community to live life with us, break bread with us, and cry and laugh with us. That’s what discipleship is! We understood that it’s a process and that different people are in different places in their spiritual spectrum.

Have you thought about how Jesus called 12 unbelievers to be His disciples? Then for the next three years of Jesus’ ministry, those disciples came to call Him Lord at different moments in time. Peter was the first of the disciples to rightly see Jesus for who He was. Thomas didn’t fully become a believer until he stuck his fingers through Jesus’ pierced hands. And Judas never confessed Jesus as Lord, but he wanted more of what Jesus could give him rather than Jesus himself. 

{ Jesus called his 12 unbelievers to be His disciples. Then for the next three years of Jesus’ ministry, those disciples came to call Him Lord at different moments in time. }

We have embraced the form of discipleship that we call, “Welcoming and Mutually Transforming.” What we mean by this is that we have a posture of humility, confessing that we ourselves are not perfect, fall short, and that we still need the cross and Christ’s righteousness. We welcome people into our community regardless of if they look like us, talk like us, or even behave like us because some people won’t accept Gods love and grace until they have experienced it through His people first!

All the while, we do not fit-in to our host culture because we are exiles. We live in this “socially awkward” tension because this is not our home. The Apostle Peter described the church as “aliens and strangers in this world.” (1 Peter 2:11)

Therefore, as a compelling community that is different than that of the culture, we must embrace our alien ethic. We must embrace that our church culture lives radically different than the world in how we handle money, sex, and power. And this distinctiveness is a good thing. I like how Stanley Hauerwas puts it:

The church must show the world something it is not—and cannot be—apart from Jesus.

You might be reading this and feel like I did at the donut shop with my boys. A moment ago the world seemed fine, but then you looked up and everything has changed. My hope for this blog is to encourage you! Don’t fall into despair but actually be excited for the potential work that God can do through the church when it is on the margins.

When Israel went into exile in Babylon, God did not tell His people to escape the city and run away from the culture. He told them to seek the welfare and the prosperity of the city. (Jeremiah 29:7)

The church needs to be ambassadors of beauty, stewards of generosity, and cultivators of renewal in the cities and the places they belong. And if we embrace the calling to live in the world for the world, then certainly nothing will overcome the people of God!  

What’s your focus?

By Anthony Banks

Whether you are bi-vocational or in ministry full-time, you are in for a ride. As a pastor, minister, or church planter, a lot of times people don’t really understand what you are going through balancing family, work, and church. Nothing is easy, and sometimes you will struggle to find the motivation to continue.

That’s why it is so important that your motivation comes from constantly staying in prayer!

I know I’m not telling you anything new when I say you need focus. You know good and well that you can’t let anything slip. “Slipping” happens when you forget to do things at home because of the ministry, or when you struggle to find time at church because of your work.

There is no way, decent or above decent, to love my family, take care of the ministry, or maintain my job if I am not focused on the Lord! 

First, there is my family. My wife needs me, and my kids need me. They need my love and my care and my affection and my time. Scripture says my family is my priority, because if I can’t lead and care for my family well, then how can I take care of the church? (1 Timothy 3:1-5)

{ There is no way, decent or above decent, to love my family, take care of the ministry, or maintain my job if I am not focused on the Lord! }

Then there is Second Baptist Turrell, where the people need a teacher and a listener and a counselor. I don’t want to neglect one of them because they’re all important. I’m not a hired hand but a servant, one who serves by giving of himself and leading his sheep, and I am responsible to God for how I lead.

And last, but not least, is work. Of course I must do the job I have been hired to do. Unlike in the ministry where I want to be like Christ going after one sheep gone astray, at work I am more like a shepherd looking for all the other sheep! My drive and focus at work tends to be different from the ministry. 

I pray and talk with Him about these things—what all these people want from me—and then pray for myself! You and I must have His help if we are to do all these things as He would have us to do.

But I’m just warning you: stepping out in this feels like quicksand. You’re going to have to trust. Because when thoughts and distractions come flooding in, that’s when you have to continue to keep your eyes on Him.

Remember how Peter was walking on the water toward Jesus? I am like Peter sometimes because when He wants me to come out on the water, I go, but then I get distracted by the wind and the waves. I would say to a pastor or church planter, “Don’t take your eyes off Him!”

Distractions are a form of worrying. I would say that if you’re going to pray, then why worry? You have to do one or the other. Worrying can’t add anything to your life but stress. Worrying doesn’t add time or days to your life.

If you are worrying, then you are not trusting Him because worry won’t allow you to trust. Worrying is like saying that someone is standing behind you and strong enough to catch you, but you’re still worried about them catching you when you fall. You aren’t trusting them.

{ …when thoughts and distractions come flooding in, that’s when you have to continue to keep your eyes on Him. }

Maybe at the church you’re worried about an increase in visitors, salvations, or baptisms. Are you worrying why there aren’t more? Are you worrying about what you’re doing or not doing? Scripture says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God gave the increase…” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)

You just plant! Water if you have to, but God will send the increase. That is what the Word says: to trust Him! If we’re focusing on other things like Peter, then we’ll start sinking. We must continue to focus on Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Come to your family with complete trust in Him. Come to your ministry with complete trust in Him. Come to your job with complete trust in Him. If you’re not focused on God, why are you doing any of it? God should be the focus first, always.

Without Him, there is no us. That’s the reason we have to get up in the morning and say, “You have given me this morning, and You are the reason I woke up this morning.”

A lot of times we “lose it” because we lose focus. At the end of a long day we are tired and lose focus, but in the morning we wake up with a fresh look! We don’t wake up because we’re good; we wake up because He is good!

He has given us this day. That’s focus.

Catching a new kind of fish

By Izah Broadus

Have you ever thought about what it must be like for someone who doesn’t want to step foot in a church?  

Maybe church is a place of isolation, a place where you won’t fit in with anyone else. Maybe church is a place where you won’t be allowed to do a lot of things. Maybe church is a place where you will feel like people will point fingers. Maybe church is a place where you will have to meet a certain standard. 

One young guy who came to New Faith said he was afraid and anxious to be here because he felt like someone would make him feel different. Another man told me he would never let a pastor or preacher come to his home for dinner because he felt like he couldn’t trust them.

If we are going to be the church—the church saved for God—then we can’t look at what people have or don’t have. We can’t think of someone only by their color. We can’t do the groups and the clicks. And we can’t stick to a lot of traditions and things that have been going on for years that create “a standard.”

{ If we are going to be the church, then we can’t look at what people have or don’t have… }

And I’m talking to me, too. I have to show by example. I would never ask my church to do something I wouldn’t do myself. I try and communicate with people who feel like they are living without a purpose. As we are out in the community and talking with people, I make sure I’m doing it first. I spend one-on-one time playing basketball with the youth to show them that God loves them.

If we are going to be the church—people who love because Christ first loved us—then we have to love people who have no hope. We have to love people of this world who are living without a purpose. We have to love and feed the hungry. We have to love the people who put a penny in the offering plate as much as the people who give $100.

New Faith is a place where everyone is the same and accepted because of the love of Jesus. Our purpose is not to judge. We are a place to grow and help others grow in our relationship with Jesus. We are here to let people know there is more to life than this world and to live like we have a Kingdom-home to go to.

{ …we have to love people who have no hope. }

So what do we do to get people through the door? Well, to catch a new kind of fish, we need a new kind of bait!

I would say New Faith has moved away from a lot of traditions. We don’t have a pulpit where the preachers sit up front on the stage. We don’t ask people to turn around and look at the congregation after they’ve made a decision.

youth leading service

On the fourth Sunday of the month, we wear jeans and t-shirts on Sunday morning! Every fourth Sunday is the youth service, and our youth do everything. They open up with praise and worship, they welcome everyone and say the opening prayer, and they take up the offering before I get up to teach the sermon. Right now I’m praying to God for someone to train up who will preach. At New Faith, we want our youth to be a part of the service.

Before Easter, our church did outreach with The Word Church Jonesboro to invite the community of West Helena to our very first Walk with Jesus (read about it in my previous blog). Because of this, New Faith has grown thirty more people! Visitors came in one door with smiles and left through the other door with tears coming down their face. I watched one lady write her sin on the piece of paper, drop it into the water and see it dissolve, and break down crying as I told her God has forgiven her. People said they had never experienced the Easter story like that before!

Remember the young guy I was talking about—the one who said he was afraid? He now says that he feels like he’s part of a family. Remember the man who never wanted a pastor in his home? I was the first because he said my messages were not just for the congregation but for me, as well. 

If we are going to be the church, we might have to do a few things differently to show Jesus to people.

An exam for potential church planters (3)

By Andrew Munneke

So this is the third in a series of blogs to discern if you’re called, gifted, and able to be a church planter. In the first blog, we covered identity and the motivation for why you’re really pursuing starting a church. The second was about the core competencies of a church planter, and recognizing if you have them or need to grow in a few areas.

This blog is a bit more diagnostic. I’m asking you to do a candid self-examination as you read. Here are the three questions you’ll want to answer: Would I follow me? Does my household follow me? Do leaders follow me?

Would I follow me?

Trust. That’s the first step in a relationship with someone. If there can be no trust, there can be no relationship.

What we’re doing when we ask people to follow us is actually asking them to trust us. And that’s a huge thing! When you’re asking people to let you be their pastor, there’s a trust that needs to be there. This thought goes back to the character discussion we got into a little bit in the first blog.

So, if I know me—and hopefully you are self-aware enough to know your heart and its motivations and affections—and I was asking me to go and be a part of this new church, would I actually do it?

Let me ask the question this way: If you knew someone who had the same experiences, the same leadership track record, and the same heart motivations as you…would you follow that person? If you answered “Yes,” then let’s take this a step further.

{ If you knew someone who had the same experiences, the same leadership track record, and the same heart motivations as you…would you follow that person? }

The best leaders also make the best followers, so another good question to ask when considering your own leadership is: How well have I followed other peoples’ leadership? 

Do you frequently question others and think, “I could do it better…”? If so, as a leader you’re likely to lead more of a dictatorship because you don’t know how to work with people to achieve a common goal. People will become more like commodities to you to fulfill your vision rather than partners.

In the same way, if you can make a collaborative vision within the whole—not depending solely on yourself—then people will want to share this vision for your church and trust you to lead them.

And the last question I will ask you: How well do you lead yourself? Do you accomplish goals that you set for yourself? Do you show up on time? Do you fulfill your commitments and obligations? (Ok, so maybe that question actually consisted of three more questions! But, I think you get my point.) If you cannot lead yourself, then how can you expect to lead others?

Does my household follow me?

Obviously, this is taken from Scripture itself (1 Timothy 3:4). Your family is the group of people who know you and love you the most. If they aren’t willing to follow you, or you do a bad job of leading them, there are different caveats to what that means.

Is your wife on board? Sometimes we’re tempted to use our “calling from God” as an excuse to drag our wives into something they don’t really want to be a part of. Word to the wise, you should listen if she’s saying:

“I know you have a heart for New York City, but that will squash my soul.”

“I need you to be home more than the church/ministry will allow you to be home.”

I’m definitely not saying your wife can’t have insecurities or questions about going into ministry. Honestly, I think it would be unnatural for a wife not to wonder, “How are we going to pay the bills? Is this best for our kids?”

As a pastor, your job is all about dealing with people’s pain and how the Gospel speaks into that (this includes Christians and non-Christians, by the way). When your wife is in pain not knowing where the money will come from, or worrying about you being bi-vocational and the stress that comes with that, how do you speak the truth of the Gospel and shepherd her through those “red flags” and fears? How you shepherd your family is a reflection of how you will shepherd a church.

Your priority is to your family first. And nothing will disqualify you from church planting faster than if your marriage is crumbling and falling apart, or if you aren’t loving your kids well.

Do leaders follow me?

Let me say first that it’s great if you’ve had experience leading a small group. Like I mentioned in the second blog, leadership experience is necessary, and leading a small group is a good place to start.

But I also need to point out that leading a small group is different than leading a small group of leaders. As a pastor, you will need leaders (you could also call them key people) to follow you, and this requires a totally different skill-set.

{ Leading a small group is different than leading a small group of leaders. }

There are usually a few different leadership groups you will need: a core group, a financial support group, and (my personal conviction) a church or church network to support and send you out. How you lead and cast vision for each of these groups will be different.

Sidenote: I both like and hate the term “core group” because there’s the danger that they think they are the influencers. But if you communicate to your core group that they are carrying the DNA of the church, then this group will hopefully multiply itself into different ministries and leadership roles within the church in a way that new leaders will embrace and multiply. For example, if your core group is missional, then when they multiply themselves the goal is that your church as a whole will be missional.

And similarly for your financial group and church network, you must be able to cast a compelling vision so that they want to support you.

To be continued…

Returning to my roots

By Anthony Banks

Where did you come from? Who had a role in your spiritual journey to bring you to where you are today? Take a moment to remember the people in your life who have shaped you…

I think it’s always good to fellowship with where you came from. For me, that’s my first church home: Second Baptist in West Helena. This is where the Lord brought me after running from Him (read my first blog for the full story). It’s where I grew, and the Lord really blessed me by bringing me up there.  

But just like a man who leaves his father and mother, I now have my own family as pastor of Second Baptist Church in Turrell. Even though I’m pastoring another church in another town, we have kept a connection.

The first service we had in Turrell in May 2016, my pastor from West Helena preached for us. Then in December 2016, my West Helena church family came to Turrell and we had service together. Everybody had a wonderful time. I’ve told my congregation that it’s like they were meeting extended family for the first time. Even if there were some people they hadn’t met before, we’ve got the same blood.

{ It’s a gift and a testimony because of what God has done in my life. }

It’s a gift and a testimony because of what God has done in my life. The members of my home church in West Helena have told me how glad they are to see the Lord using me. One expressed how much they’ve enjoyed seeing how I’ve grown.

Our West Helena family was proud to be able to fellowship with us because the Lord used their pastor and members to speak His truth into my life years ago. And now they are seeing the fruit of their labor because now they have touched people through Second Baptist Turrell.

I thank God and pray that He will continue to use the Second Baptists of West Helena and Turrell to grow the Kingdom!