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!

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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!  

A handful of kids, a church, and Crazy8

By Izah Broadus 

We are just getting a youth after-school program going that is connected with New Faith. It’s been on my heart for over a year, and these kids really do need it. The kids are just running around after school because there is nothing for them to do.  

I just felt the need to reach out because there is no program where our church is. My heart is yes, for the education—they’re going to need it. My hope, too, is to touch the hearts of the kids and that they will want to be a part of the church, and they’ll touch their parents’ hearts to want to be a part of it.

Tuesday, February 21, was our first day. Eight kids showed up; four were kids of members at New Faith, but then other parents found out that we had 30 slots available. Right now there are 13 kids in the program. I knew many of the parents who called to ask about their kid being in the program, but before this I hadn’t had a real connection with them. We have mostly advertised the program on Facebook and during Sunday morning services, so this was the first time really talking to them.

The after school program is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We are using the upstairs facility of the church where the computer rooms are, but we are praying about a new life center and gymnasium.

When the kids first walk in the door, they sign-in and we give them a snack (another organization provides the snacks). We open the program with a prayer and the Bible, and each day I give them an overview of the Bible for about 10 minutes.

After this they divide into classes by their ages, and we help them with their homework. Later we do this program called Crazy8. It’s for reading, English, math, and science. For the last 30 minutes of the day we go to a game room for learning games, but we like to give the kids a chance to play basketball, video games, and table hockey.

{ My hope, too, is to touch the hearts of the kids and that they will want to be a part of the church, and they’ll touch their parents’ hearts to want to be a part of it. }

We are planning to take them on an outing at least one Saturday each month. We are not just taking them somewhere for the sake of taking them out to have fun but doing it so they can learn.

We want the youth to move a step up by being in this program. We’re even going to send a letter back to school for their teachers and ask about what they’re struggling in. The smaller kids will probably tell us the truth, but the older kids will probably beat around the bush.

A deacon and our church secretary are running New Faith’s program, and some of our high school seniors have been trained to teach using Crazy8. Another lady is one of New Faith’s ushers, and she helps in the computer room and with the snacks.

Right now parents are dropping off kids at the church, but our goal is for us to pick them up from school and then their parents pick them up from the program. This is something we are planning to work out with the school system.

The program is working out and I think it will truly make an impact on the community, as well. Please pray that we might know how to really grow this program!

And really, there are so many awesome things that are going on at New Faith. Just this past Sunday in worship service we had more men in service than ever before. I couldn’t past up the opportunity to ask you to pray for all the men there! It was truly an awesome experience. It is something that I’ve been praying for at New Faith: for more men who truly com seeking God.

Why church planting?

By Lee Kemp

When I’m talking to people and sharing Forefront Church’s story, I have often been asked “Why did you go into church planting after being involved in an established church ministry for more than a decade?” I think it’s a great question.

Back in the day, Sarah and I made this little magazine when Forefront was becoming a reality. There was a “Why Church Planting?” page, and it had a few simple points. I’ll use them as a starting point to answering this question.  

1. God has called me to do it.

That’s reason enough to be involved in church planting, but it is a hard answer to give sometimes. I’ve always tried to be careful saying, “God called me to do this.”  Maybe it was my creative brain and not God?

Even though I know God called me—to church planting and to do other things—the one thing that would limit me is feeling ill-equipped. Well, if God is sending people to do it, he must be equipping people to do it! I know whenever God calls us he equips us.

I feel he equipped me by giving me an entrepreneurial spirit for Kingdom advancement. He also gave me a pioneering spirit, and by that I mean a willingness to cut a trail, to settle a vision into a reality. The grass was bent in Fort Smith and there was a trail, and I felt like God was leading me to take a road over there. 

2. Church plants are fulfilling the great commission, sometimes faster than established churches.

Church plants are effective, and they reach new people. There is plenty of research on this. Church plants, also known as church starts, in many cases have been observed to grow from 0 to 200 people quicker than established churches.

Church plants also have a passion for evangelism, and they have a tendency for a disciple-centered culture. It’s a part of the demand that they make disciples because there is nothing else for them to hang their hat on.

A lot of church plants have evangelism so ingrained in their ministry DNA that they “plant pregnant.” In other words, they are starting new churches as they are becoming a new church. There is a lot of statistical data to back up that church planting is one way of fulfilling the Great Commission at a faster pace.

3. There is a need for church planting.

When you listen to someone talk about a business, people often ask, “Is there a viable reason for this?” I’ve talked a lot in previous blogs about being a missional church, but there really was a need for a missional church plant in Fort Smith. (If you haven’t already, be sure to read “We Are Forefront” and “My Apartment Is My Mission Field.”)

We have seen God fulfill his vision through us. Sometimes it was in “small” ways, and sometimes it was in big ways. (Check out “Sowing Seeds with People of Peace,” “From Homeless to Homemaker,” and “God is Still on the Move.”)  

Continuing to grow

I have done a lot of growing over the years in both the ministries of established churches and church planting. The first sermon I ever preached  was awful and doctrinally wrong. In a church plant, if someone preaches like that, visitors might go to a completely different church! If someone had never given me that opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

One thing I really don’t dispute is God calling me to church planting, but what I struggle with is if I am doing it in the way he would have me do it. Sometimes I think I’m doing ok, and other days I feel like I should be blocking off my whole day for prayer.

I have learned that even though I am a pastor, I am still obligated to lead with the fruit of the Spirit. In church planting, the success of the church plant can hinge on whether this new thing rolls or doesn’t roll. If something’s not working, then why? How will I know if it is worth continuing?  When I shepherd, I have to lead with the fruit of the Spirit.

Signing off

This is my last official blog post for “A Day in the Life of a Church Planter.” I am passing the baton to several great guys who will share their lives, tell their stories, and give you a glimpse into what God is doing through their church plants. Continue following Forefront Church’s journey at http://www.forefront.church/, or add me on Facebook.

I would ask that you continue to pray for Forefront Church and for our family. Here are a few specific ways you can pray:

  • That Sarah and I will continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and that we would seek to minister being filled with the Spirit.
  • We ask for wisdom and discernment about how to position our people where they can fulfill their calling in ministry and ultimately advance the Gospel.
  • That we would continually walk in faith. We want to see God provide for us in a way where only he is seen as our source of provision. We don’t ever want to be in a spot where we “finally make budget.” If we make budget, it’s our desire to constantly have a posture of faith as a church. We don’t want to ever be in a spot where we financially settle. Pray that we don’t become complacent.
  • Please pray for my children. I don’t want to reach the whole world and lose my own kids. I don’t want to minister in such a way that my kids hate the ministry. I pray that they would continue in—and maybe even be called to—ministry, and that they would continue the race that Sarah and I have started.