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.


Which comes first: preaching, teaching, or reaching?

By Anthony Banks

I went to the service station on the outskirts of town one day, and I was telling a gentleman about being a new pastor in Turrell. He said, “They need it, all those gang bangers, and drug dealers down there.”  And I wanted to know, What does he want to do to help?

Turrell is an impoverished community. You have to travel to find jobs because there are no jobs here. They have a couple of businesses, a country store, a funeral home, and one little place that sells sandwiches, but basically that’s about it. The majority of people are on a fixed income.

Just from observing, there’s a lack of education, and schools have closed down and combined with others. The drop-out rate is high because of the issues people face. A lot of people battle depression and behavioral problems. There is a real need for counseling. I mean, these things happen because of what people are facing.

Churches should and could ban together to be a stronger force. My mission is to preach the word of God and pray for some healing and restoration in the town. This is why we do what we do at Second Baptist. Basically we are looking at it from both sides. It’s about restoring what should be versus what people are settling for. 

Anthony standing outside Second Baptist

But I used to hear this: “Each one teach one.” However, I am a firm believer in: “You can’t teach a person you can’t reach.”

Paul said, “I became weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 19:22). If Paul didn’t become weak then he couldn’t understand them, and they perceived that he couldn’t understand them. If you’re trying to teach someone but you’re not even trying to reach them, how can they pay attention? You don’t understand their problems.

I have been through what they are going through: through the gang banging, drugs, and living the street life. I’ve had to say, “I understand. I used to feel I had to do the same thing.” I’ve explained, “This is a choice you can make, but you can make a different choice.”

Once you can reach them, you can teach them that’s not the way…

I can talk about how I remember falling into the same trap. When these guys would ride around in nice, fancy cars and had big speakers and shining rims. I remember wanting those things and thought I had to do the same thing to get it, but the whole time God was convicting me, The devil is tricking you—just like he did in the garden.

So I made a decision to live differently. Yeah, when I got hired I wasn’t making the same money as when I dealt with drugs, but Jesus owns everything.

I can say, “He’s not slacking in His promises. If He takes care of the birds of the air, then you have to trust the plans He has for you—this is what you need to hang your hope on. The Bible tells us everything else will pass away, and there will be a new heaven and new earth. Tomorrow is not promised, but if the Lord feeds the birds of the air, how much more will He will take care of you?”

{ I think of what they are doing, and what I have done, so I can relate to them. I want to help them understand there is a better way. }

I think of what they are doing, and what I have done, so I can relate to them. I want to help them understand there is a better way. Once I reach them I can teach them about this Jesus who took my feet out of the miry clay and placed them upon a rock to stay.

But I’m not just targeting people on the streets. There are other people who do not have anything to do with drugs or alcohol, but they have other issues that are taking effect in their life. There are people who aren’t going to church because they’ve been hurt by church folk. I have to minister to that, too, through the love of God.

When I see folks, I let the Spirit lead me. As a man of God—pastor or not—whenever I run into anyone in Turrell or anyplace else, I don’t waste an opportunity. I may not know who they are or if they’re on the streets, but I’ve got to bring God into the equation. Every conversation is a situation to share God in revelation.