FORT WORTH—Members of New Creation Bible Church insist their congregation is a little "weird."
The church has no sign, and when the congregation tried to hang a banner announcing its presence, it was asked to take it down. The congregation is known as the church with no sign that meets Sundays at 2:30 p.m..
People wander in off the streets and into the sanctuary during worship services, asking for food and money. The service itself can seem disorganized.
"We don't do anything well," Co-Pastor Fred Kinney said. "If you came to our service, you'd freak out."
There is one other thing the Baptist General Convention of Texas-sponsored church-start does that's weird, Kinney admits—the transformational way it cares for others. The church models Christ's love for people, and that has driven the new church to baptize 20 people in the past six months—many of them unchurched and some who experienced dramatic lifestyle changes as a result of embracing faith in Christ.
Drug addicts have broken free from addiction. Former drug dealers freely share the gospel. People who may not have much to eat give food to people who have none. At least two church members have taken a homeless man into their homes on a cold night. A church modeled after what its members see in the New Testament book of Acts appropriately is seeing God-sized changes take place.
"I preach the same thing every Sunday—missions. Go and make disciples. And I'm not doing it. … They're doing it. They are making disciples. They are crossing racial barriers. They are not looking at age," Kinney said.
"We went back to going into people's homes, hanging with them while they smoke cigarettes and drink beer. We go into their homes, some of them with bugs crawling across your shoulders, and we sit there and spend time with them. That's it. That's what Jesus did. He spent time with people.
"As a matter of fact, he made it his purpose to go up to people who weren't saved. He didn't hang around the Pharisees. He went to Zacchaeus' house. He went to the sinners, the prostitutes, the drunkards."
Terri Mital, a gang member who dropped out of school in the sixth grade, met Kinney while walking down the sidewalk. Kinney asked her if she needed any help, which she did. He gave her some food, talked to her about the issues she was facing and invited her to church.
She attended, and her life changed, she said. She embraced the hope of Christ, was baptized and her outlook on life shifted. The physical ailments troubling her faded.
"This is the best church in the world I've ever come to," she said. "They accept you whoever you are, what you wear, what nationality you are—they don't care."
She has become the congregation's leading evangelist, bringing person after person to church with her. Fifteen of the church's 20 baptisns are the result of her efforts—and the efforts of those she invited in turn inviting their friends.
Humberto Espitia moved to Fort Worth to sell drugs. Now he's committed his life to Christ, been baptized and feels a call to preach. Within three years, the congregation hopes to send him out to start his own congregation.
"The Holy Spirit started talking to me and telling me: 'This is what you're here for. This is your purpose in this world,'" he said.
People are intrigued by what they see church members doing in the community, Christina Evans said. The community witnesses lives changing and wants to know what's going on. Christ's love is leading the church to care for others. People see, Evans said.
"As much as you don't think they see, they see," she said. "If they see you doing something, they're going to … start noticing it and … (ask), 'Where is that influence coming from?' And start coming to church."
Transformation still is taking place, Kinney noted. Members still are facing issues. People still need food. The overwhelming majority of the congregation is unemployed. There are Child Protective Services issues, including a 12-year-old prostitute and a 4-year-old boy who drinks beer and smokes cigarettes. Change is difficult, requires determination and the power of God. It's no different than people in the Bible.
"We wouldn't have a New Testament if people weren't screwed up," he said. "Paul wouldn't have written any letters, Peter wouldn't have written any letters, John wouldn't have written any letters, James wouldn't have written any letters, if people weren't screwed up. We forget about that. So it hasn't changed."
Like in Scripture, God continues to work in people's lives, Co-Pastor Ed Elliot said. Christ's followers are bringing others to him as they were commanded to do in the Bible.
"God has really been blessing the work and what we're doing. Just like in the books of Acts, people are just bringing more people,"Elliot said.
"All these kids are just coming. We're really not trying to do any efforts to bring in more people. The people who are here are doing it."