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.

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Listening: time well spent

Have you ever listened to someone talk for what you thought was a few minutes, but it turns out you had been listening for an hour or more?

It happened to me recently as I sat-in on a recording for The Grind, an Arkansas Baptists podcast where church planters share their God-stories, planting strategies, and their heart for reaching the lost. I had never been a part of a podcast before (and really, I didn’t contribute to the conversation! I was just present for the recording), but I have to say my first time was a memorable one.

For this episode, The Grinds hosts (Dave and Chad) invited a local, seasoned church planter from Hot Springs named Mike Prince. A soft-spoken man with a calm demeanor and firm yet gentle handshake, Mike seemed to have everyone in the room listening for the wisdom he might share.

He talked about hanging out at McDonald’s as a way to try and have Gospel conversations. He talked about wrestling with the people God has called him to. He talked about “coincidences” that in the end proved to be divine appointments. He talked about God saving people’s souls and changing their lives.

All the while I was thinking, What’s keeping me from doing what Mike is doing? Is it because I don’t have the burden for the lost that I think I do? 

As if to answer what I was thinking, Mike said, “Right now we have so many opportunities, but we need the workers…people who will be all in.” How appropriate it was that this was one of the last things he said for the podcast. It was like a call-to-action.

{ “Right now we have so many opportunities, but we need the workers…people who will be all in.” }

~Mike Prince, Garage Church Hot Springs 

What had felt like a few minutes in the podcast turned out to be much longer, and I think time spent with God tends to be like that sometimes. I might not have physically seen Him in the room where we were recording the podcast, but His presence was there in the words Mike shared.

Mike was speaking of His redemption for His people. Mike’s heart was echoing the Lord’s heart: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

I left thinking about what years in a prison cell must feel like to a person without Christ. This is what it’s like for the people Mike ministers to in prison. Then I thought about what a day in heaven must be like, when Scripture says, “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10a). What a gift not just for the prisoner but for a sinner like me.

I may not be a church planter. But I’m a believer. And sitting in on this podcast was a reminder of the work that I’m called to do, too.

Listen to The Grind episode with Mike here:
By Rachel Gaddis
Rachel is a member of the communications team for Arkansas Baptists