Special Report: New Life Church One Country's Fastest Growing

- LITTLE ROCK, AR - It all started with a vision. Faith Matters to a Central Arkansas pastor whose Non-denominational church in Conway started 13 years ago with about 500 people. Today, about 30,000 people now call New Life Church (NLC) their home and has become one of the fastest growing churches in the country.

"For me, it was kind of like a new beginning, a fresh start," says Alexis Ware, NLC church member.

"We couldn't really find a place we could connect to," says Micah Gay, NLC church member.

"The people we met first were genuinely concerned and cared about us and wanted to know our story," says Bryan Barnard, NLC church member.

"We've met some of the best people we've ever had in our lives here. They really became our family," says Ashley Barnard, NLC church member.

A fresh start, new friendships, a place to connect with God? Whatever your answer is, these are some of the things that draw Arkansans to New Life Church.

"We're aiming at these people and we want to see them learn the word and be discipled," says Pastor Rick Bezet.

Throughout the years, NLC founder and pastor Rick Bezet noticed his church members in Conway started bringing in friends from other cities.

"We started running out of space and we thought why don't we start another church where their friends live, which is how we ended up in Little Rock," says Bezet.

NLC outgrew its Conway church and built campuses in Maumelle, Cabot, Fort Smith, Heber Springs, and Hot Springs. In 2014, NLC added two churches in Searcy and Russellville. While church services continue to expand across the Natural State, it may not just stop here.

"We're looking at Hong Kong right now," says Bezet. "As long as we continue to do missions and it's working, I don't know if we'll ever have churches there, but we like local church, we like missions so we could end up out of Arkansas."

Whether a church is ever established out of state or even out of the country, New Life is reaching people through the world wide web, who can view its 21 LIVE and recorded services.

"We have people all around the world that chime in every weekend," says Bezet. "And even troops in Afghanistan huddle around the computer and watch the church LIVE on Sundays."

While Pastor Rick believes Arkansas is loaded with great churches and leaders, he credits NLC's growth on how it targets people who are not in church.

"People want the truth. They don't want the water down word. They want the truth. People are hungry for truth. It's almost like hey I'm here, please help my life. Teach me the word," says Bezet.

It's not just adults, it's also children.

"If you're teaching the kids the word of God and they want to come back, those parents are going to come back," says Bezet.

And what keeps them coming back?

"His sermons are so real to the way we live our lives today. It's very relatable to what's going on in our lives and what's in the world today," says Ashley Barnard, NLC church member.

"Pastor Rick is a really great guy, he really is and he knows how to preach the word," Micah Gay, NLC Student Leader.

"Just his authenticity, it was obvious that he loved people and that he loved God," says Alexis Ware, NLC church member.

"I have real weaknesses and I have to deal with them. If all I am showing the good side of my life I'm not going to win anybody," says Bezet. "If God can use these people who are in the word who made mistakes, I know I'm going to fall short at times and I think being transparent and real is a very attractive way to lead people to God."

Pastor Rick, a Louisiana native, admits he grew up in a church where people were mean and judgmental. It's the myths of Christianity that inspired him to preach the word of God.

"I want people to see that Christians, we love one another. To show that Christianity is the greatest way, the coolest way to live and I love dispelling myths about what Christianity is all about, and what the presence of God can be about. I think Faith Matters and once you realize Faith Matters then you're gonna go for Him, you're gonna go for his word and you're going to find a church where you can grow," says Bezet.

New Life Church collaborates with other churches to support the Arkansas Dream Center, a non-profit group dedicated to helping Arkansans. The center strives to solve moral decay, crime, drugs, gangs, homelessness and poverty epidemics.

To keep up with Susanne Brunner's stories, "Like" her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter

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