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.


Stepping out

By Izah Broadus 

At New Faith we teach “come to Jesus right where you are, and let Jesus change your life around.” People who were alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless—we have loved them and introduced them to Jesus. But most of them didn’t just walk in the front door.  

We do outreach events like community dinners, block parties, medical and dental clinics, and other things to have a chance to talk to people. After some events, people want to know when we’re going to do something else. I tell them that if it weren’t for Jesus Christ, we wouldn’t be able to do it. We don’t get caught up in the stuff. We do this for free to reach lost souls.

Actually, for a lot of people the first thing they say is, “How much does this cost?” and they’re surprised when we tell them, “It’s free, just come.” We see a lot of people at outreach events and then invite them to New Faith. And they come.

Regardless of where they’re at—spiritually or financially—we don’t treat them no different. We treat everybody the same if they drop a quarter or $50 in the offering plate. They fall in love and keep coming back and end up joining.

{ People who were alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless—we have loved them and introduced them to Jesus. But most of them didn’t just walk in the front door. } 

When I preach, I just compare the Bible and real-life issues that the congregation might be dealing with, and they understand what the problem is about. Like the three Hebrew boys the king put in the fire, I tell them that the fire didn’t destroy the Hebrews. The heat might be turned up in their life, but things that have us bound won’t bind us forever.

West Helena is one of the highest poverty level areas in Arkansas. Within a 20-block radius of the church, there is no gymnasium, no park, no public library. There is nothing for the teenagers. There are no jobs.

Our focus at New Faith right now is to provide things for the community. We live in a community where you can throw a basketball out in the parking lot and kids come out of nowhere because they don’t have anything to do. We want to provide a gymnasium, and we are praying about a park.

There isn’t a local shelter, either. Someone is always at the door of the church when I get out of the car. They want to talk, or they are hungry.

There was a guy eating out of the dumpster over the last few months, and I wanted to share Jesus with him. His name is Arthur, and I just wanted him to know that God still loves him. We invited him into the church a lot because it was cold. This fall, he joined New Faith, and he wants to be baptized!

We’ve made a room upstairs for a library. We are working on opening the room on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays so people in the community can look for jobs.

We are also looking into starting an after-school program, and it will start on February 21, 2017. We are praying for God to provide because we have needs—for more computers, for space, for materials to do things outside with the kids. But what we do have right now are people who love the vision for this. 

The new church van!

We had a need for transportation, and God answered prayer! We were picking up 20-30 people for our church services on Sundays and Wednesdays but didn’t have a church van. We were picking them up in cars and trucks. Me and two more who would pick them up and take them home after service.

By the grace of God, Brother Dave McClung text me one morning and told me he found us a van! He connected me with Pastor Wyman Richardson of Central Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Ark. It was a blessing that we had been praying for, and I cried tears of joy.

God is showing us that He is with us at New Faith if we stay obedient to Him. The name New Faith speak for itself—a new group of people in positions that we’ve never been in before. People stepping out on faith and trusting that God will provide.


Heart transformations in Fort Smith

By Lee Kemp

This past weekend 1,800 people came to partner with many local churches in Fort Smith for the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip.  We saw 67 people pray to receive Christ on Saturday! I wanted to take a moment and just share four quick highlights of what I saw God do in the hearts of those from Fort Smith who served that day. 

1. Realized the need to minister outside the walls of a church

One of things I heard at a luncheon with Fort Smith pastors after the event was that “we have people ready and wanting to continue serving our city like we did this past weekend.”  Most pastors have a desire to serve outside of the church, but when people tell their pastors that they want to do more for their city, that is on another level!

2. Reminded to serve alongside each other as the body of Christ

The church culture in Fort Smith is sadly one of a “competitive nature.”  It is rare that churches come together to serve as co-laborers in the Gospel.  Last weekend, we saw many churches work alongside each other and have a great time doing it, too.  Hopefully God will continue to work in our hearts to focus on impacting lost-ness in our city!

3. Challenged to share the Gospel for the first time in their locale

I heard one pastor share about how a lady in his church was so excited because she shared the Gospel for the first time.  It is always exciting when we see someone overcome their fear of sharing how Christ has impacted their life!   

4. Accepted Christ as Savior

We had two ladies visit Forefront Church this past week because they came to the block party at Stephen’s Boys and Girls Club.  The coolest part was that one of them prayed to receive Christ Sunday morning!  I am praying more and more stories will trickle-in the next few weeks about how people are going to church for the first time and finding hope in Christ. (I know we have several families coming to visit Forefront this coming Sunday!)

_____    ______    _____

Please be in prayer for the churches in the Fort Smith area as they continue to follow-up and connect with the 1,200 families who have expressed interest in a local church.  Even more, be in prayer for the 67 people (and growing) who are coming to know Christ, and that they will get connected with and be disciple by a local church. 


From homeless to homemaker

By Lee Kemp 

A few years ago, the manager of a Motel 6 in Fort Smith called me to refer a lady who could use some help.  We had developed a friendship with Motel 6 through ministering to so many folks, and we had even been able to develop a corporate discount rate to help people.  

I met DeLayne at McDonald’s right next to the hotel. She sat there with me and another elder of Forefront. We filled out this sheet to assess what she needed and figure out if we could meet that need. I could tell she was nervous and had been through a lot. I stopped her and reassured her that she could relax and didn’t have to sell us on helping her. 

DeLayne had fibromyalgia and had been living with her mom for a season to take care of her. After her mom needed to change living conditions, DeLayne moved with her daughter Sarah to Fort Smith. It wasn’t long in their new beginning that Sarah lost her job. Because DeLayne had been completely dependent on Sarah, she became homeless. She had no place to go.

Forefront was pretty limited in what we could do for her right away, but we assured DeLayne that we wanted to be her faith family, and as her faith family we also wanted to do all we could do to help her get back to where she desired to be.     

{ As DeLayne’s faith family we wanted to do all we could do to help her get back to where she desired to be.}

DeLayne went to the Rescue Mission and was able to get a job, but Forefront could do things for her the Rescue Mission couldn’t do. As time went on we would help financially with small needs, and we loaned her a car that we used for local missions. She connected with our church and started coming to worship with us. 

And DeLayne got back up on her feet! She secured a good job, a home, and eventually met a really good guy, Will, who she recently married. Now she is a homemaker, and Will takes good care of her. DeLayne says she is a “kept woman.” 


She is now considering how she can serve others with her free time. One of the things she wants to do is help Forefront Church by volunteering in our office as my assistant. It’s amazing how she was ministered to by our church and is now giving back by serving the church.   

DeLayne is such a huge encouragement to anyone who knows her! She uses these three verses when encouraging folks about what God has done in her life: Jeremiah 33:3, Romans 8:28 & Philippians 4:19.

Forefront wants to be a church the community sees as an organization that meets needs. I have witnessed that we can never go wrong just getting out into the community and developing friendships that the Lord brings our way. It is through friendships with organizations and local businesses like Motel 6 that Forefront has had the opportunity to meet someone like DeLayne.

 {Forefront’s desire is to be at the forefront of what God is doing in changing the lives of those who feel far from God.  Our vision is to Reach the Lost, Equip the saved to reach others, and Serve God by using our gifts to show Jesus to the local community.  Our heart is to maintain an external focus as a church.}


The struggle is real to be authentic

By Lee Kemp 

My family just had pictures made, and it made me think of authenticity. You might look at our family photo and think “Aw what a cute family!” but when we took these photos, I was threatening my kids to behave so that they would look nice!

We—church planters—care about image just like everybody else. And sometimes, we want to change our vision just so we think you will accept us.

Acceptance might be from people in the community or from my pastor friends. When I go to my association, I want them to like me. That’s what I’m thinking! I’m the odd guy out. I don’t have deacons, and everybody looks to me to do something. So I’ve found myself trying to fit-in with my friends and other pastors.

What I am trying to convey is that most church planters can have a sense of feeling lonely.    

It’s hard to remember who you are and why you began. I want to have something that looks good on the outside, but it’s kinda gooey and nasty if I’m not who God told me to be on the inside. I might please man, but I don’t please God.

{ I want to have something that looks good on the outside, but it’s kinda gooey and nasty if I’m not who God told me to be on the inside.}

This is hard in a lot of areas, not just church planting, like who you are starting to be in Christ. Even when you look up to people, you see how they might change to be accepted. I think in such a social media-driven age, we are trying to be accepted and not unique.

Vision leaks

Every church was a church plant at one point. Every time a church is planted, there is a felt burden from the Lord on his people to actually plant that church.

And a lot of times that church is birthed out of taking on a specific people group, or filling a void in the capital “C” church within that community. Every church usually starts with that purpose in mind—hopefully to glorify God—but also with specific ministry ideas.

Andy Stanley once said, “Vision leaks.” Like a water leak. That means when I start with a specific idea in mind, the idea of why I started eventually loses its traction. So I have to go back and remember what I did in the beginning.

In my mind, I like to say “Repent and do the things you did at first,” realizing we have ventured away from what we started out to do. But one thing that I know for sure, what I’ve witnessed in my experience, is that it’s not a healthy reason to start a new church just to gather more saved people.

Taking cookies to the neighborhood


So, one of the things that we at Forefront have learned—and are still learning—is how to protect the vision, the authentic vision of being a missional church in Fort Smith, Arkansas. And that’s very hard because in our context, we are seen as a church that does things a little outside the box, and that’s probably true.

We started out being very missional. Along the way, though, we have caught ourselves trying to be like other churches in the area. We wanted the big church service and experience…at the sacrifice of the mission.

When Forefront said we were going to be authentic, we said we wanted to be on-mission. We prepare for our weekly missions, and Sunday is just kind of a reboot so that we go back out during the week and exhaust ourselves.

The Sunday service isn’t the best way to reach the lost—we don’t think it is. It’s going to happen in our day-to-day relationships outside the doors of the church. We feel led to go out and do outreach in the city, and the people that come to those outreach events come to church.

{ The Sunday service isn’t the best way to reach the lost–we don’t think it is.}

So when we measure how we’re doing as a church, we don’t just look at Sunday morning. We look at other ministries with the Boys & Girls club and the apartment ministries. We are trying to position people to go out in the community and serve rather than start a church service that’s well attended.

We felt the need to walk away from that. Sometimes we’ve made church a big, big deal, and we need to be living for God where we live, work and play.

Sunday is the locker room, not the Super Bowl

We always say that Sunday is the locker room, and the weekday is the Super Bowl. When I was on a church staff back in the day, it was the opposite.

I used to hear I should study one hour for every minute I preach. But that leaves your people out to dry because they need you to lead or walk alongside them during the week. Instead of spending 20 hours on my sermon, I spend six because I have to put Sunday in a realistic perspective.

{ Our goal at Forefront is to gather for worship as a church, assembling…but then unleashing our church to engage the community.}

Some missional community-minded guys can be a little weird about Sundays, going to the extreme of not having a worship service. I wanted to plant a church with Sunday acting as what pulls our resources together. Our goal at Forefront is to gather for worship as a church, assembling—like what I read in the New Testament—but then unleashing our church to engage the community.

Forefront provided lunch for the Grizzlies after a win

Imagine all the good groups in Fort Smith whose goal is to accomplish good things. If you look at their biggest needs, they need volunteers. Then imagine a church of 300 or 500 people that sends its members right back out into the community to join those causes! Here come 8-10 Christians going to this or that…

If we become a gym instead of a holding-pen for Christians, if this is a spiritual place to be encouraged to go back into the community, now you have something authentic. You’re seeking the good of your city.

In Jeremiah 29, God tells them to seek the welfare of their city. We at Forefront Church are trying to seek the welfare of Fort Smith. This is not ultimately our home, but we’ve been told to bring heaven to earth, and we didn’t think we could do that by sticking to planning Sundays only.

{ Forefront Church exists to REACH the lost, EQUIP the saved to reach others, and SERVE God by using our gifts to show Jesus to the local community. } 

Thoughts for planters/potential planners:   Discover. Discern. Do. Debrief.

Discover where is God at work in my community?

Discern In light of the resources that my church might potentially have or does have, what can I do to partner with God?

Do We stick to the vision we said we’re going to do, and we do it. We don’t want to plan to do something and then not do it.

Debrief How did it go? Is there anything else the Lord is telling us to do? Have we stuck true to the vision we set-out to do?



Between Sundays: why churches fail or succeed

By Lee Kemp 

Why is Sunday to Sunday important as a church planter? Well, it’s just like a football team.

As a youth pastor, I was fortunate to be around Greenwood High School football, coached by one of the soon-to-be hall-of-famers, Rick Jones. What has made him successful, just like every other leader I’ve observed, is what he does when no one is looking.

There’s a great quote that says, “What you do when no one is looking is what you will become when you can no longer help it.”

As I’ve thought about this, what I’m doing during the week when no one’s looking at me is what really influences what Forefront becomes when we can no longer help it. 

The importance of training leaders

There’s two parts to this. First of all, there is conscious doing. What I want to do the way I want to do it. Eventually, you get into ministry and you are unconsciously competent. You know what you’re doing, you just don’t naturally stop to explain it. If I’m not careful, I’ll be doing ministry with an unconscious competence.

If I’m not training leaders during the week and discipling people, then it’s going to impact my ministry when I need all hands on deck.

It’s hard sometimes to put on the coaching hat and say, “Hey guys, we need to have these conversations. We’re going to be doing this kind of ministry.” Between Sundays is a developing conversation, and if we don’t have that ministry bank to withdraw from, we won’t be able to draw it out. This is why established churches and church plants are either failing or succeeding.

{ Between Sundays is a developing conversation, and if we don’t have that ministry bank to withdraw from, we won’t be able to draw it out.}

Lives aren’t going to be changed just because I check all my emails. If I don’t give people my time, and do life with them then the ministry coaching piece is absent.  People don’t care how much you know ‘til they know how much you care.

So I look at my in-betweens. I ask myself, “Lee, what time am I giving, and when, to leaders? What time am I giving and allotting to lost people?” and “Who am I developing to reach the others in-between?”

The impact

On that note, meeting lost people doesn’t have to be weird. My son got involved with the Fort Smith Boxing Club and the Boys & Girls Club. Now Forefront worships at the Boys & Girls Club, and I’m leading a Bible study there!

What I’m bringing to point is: between Sundays really does show who we are. 

Albert Einstein said, “We are already perfectly organized to achieve the results we are getting.”

Our services, numbers, etc. at Forefront are just a reflection of what we are already doing. This is sobering. And I can’t look at my church and accuse my people for not seeing results I might have desired. They’re my sheep, I’m they’re shepherd.

I have to say, “Lee, what did you do between Sundays?” 


My apartment is my mission field

By Lee Kemp 

{ Apartment life ministry is a big ministry. Ninety-five percent of people living in multi-housing have been disconnected from the local church. If you survey apartments, they don’t have a sense of community; it’s just their social behavior. They live here because it’s affordable and convenient, not because they want to make friends. }

We’ve done lots of things for the kids in this complex—like swimming lessons and ballet classes—to get to know kids, which has allowed us to get to know families.

 swimming lessons 2013When I first met Becky she was yelling at her kids at the pool. She needed to be watching her kids, but she was drunk and mad that they had spent the last bit of change for a soda because she couldn’t buy alcohol. We helped her kids get out of the pool.

 After that I started seeing Becky around the complex and just got to know her. At one point she asked, “Who are you? Why are you here?” She knew we didn’t fit the socio-economic model. So I told her I started a church in Fort Smith and that I felt should live here. She laughed, but now she’s accepted Christ, been baptized and discipled!

{ “Who are you? Why are you here?” She knew we didn’t fit the socio-economic model. }

Becky’s a single mom struggling to make ends meet, so Forefront gave her a car. This has helped her get out of the complex and into nicer housing. I just saw her the other night and learned that she’s helping another church in our city as a VBS volunteer.

That is a search-and-rescue for the Kingdom!

Elisha's kids, car
Becky’s kids in the car Forefront provided


If I didn’t live at the complex, then I wouldn’t have been swimming at the pool with Becky’s kids, and I wouldn’t have met her. If I hadn’t continued to live there, then she wouldn’t have been able to watch me. That’s how she realized I was a safe person. The Gospel came later.

The apartment culture

Apartment life ministry is a big ministry. Ninety-five percent of people living in multi-housing have been disconnected from the local church. If you survey apartments, they don’t have a sense of community; it’s just their social behavior. They live here because it’s affordable and convenient, not because they want to make friends.

Just by nature it’s obvious who is selling drugs. I started to realize there are people who have really nice stuff but never go to work and who have lots of visitors. The apartment manager and I also have this open relationship, and he has told me about people to watch because he is trying to create a positive place to live.

 I’ve taken the ministry approach and just try to get to know them. I’ve gone out and introduced myself to runners while doing laundry or just being out and around. If I find out that so-and-so has a felony and several drug charges, sure I’ll watch them, but I want to get to know them. My ministry isn’t to judge people, it’s to know people.

Still, I usually see someone five or six times before I introduce myself. That’s how I do it, anyway. If I try to be some spiritual Johnny-boy running for president then they won’t trust me.

{ My ministry isn’t to judge people, it’s to know people.}

Bridging the barriers

This one guy in the apartment ministry, Joel, is white like me. He has asked me, “Why don’t they like me?” and I’ve had to tell him, “Joel you’re acting too white. You talk slower and louder and you speak overly proper. You need to relax and just look at how they say hi, then go and do likewise.”

It’s a cross-cultural training. The barrier isn’t just ethnicity. We are missionaries! And there are missions to be done in our own city, in our own state. Some people just don’t know how to say hello.

This is how we train our church members and why we do what we do. If I’m not willing to drive by my neighbor and smile and wave at them in my own vehicle—not a church van—then our church will only be exactly like me. All I’m going to do is reach people like me. Which is not the point.

Paul says you become all things to all people so that you can reach them (1 Corinthians 9:22). I can’t become all things to all people, but I have to be willing to go be with them.

I need to be so close to these people that I know their concerns and fears about their community: that their kid will be just like them, will be kidnapped or not get an education.

What are their concerns? If I’m not close to them, then I don’t know.