written by Joshua Coffman
Recently I had an opportunity to visit a church that is controversial to many people around the world. Faithful Word Baptist Church is best known for it’s soul-winning members and it’s Hell-fire preaching pastor, Steven Anderson. His fiery sermons can be found freely on Youtube and other social media platforms.
He calls out fornicators, whoremongers, adulterers and, famously, sodomites. On a given service you can expect him to preach against any number of sins or hear him call out nations and cities for their collective sins. He has conducted numerous interviews, recorded several documentaries and traveled the world preaching the Word of God.
But I got a chance to attend this fiery man of God’s church on October 25th, 2017. I came in several hours early to see what was going on, the door was open and there were several teenagers hanging out in the auditorium. There were a couple people working on some type of rocky outcrop prop near the pulpit.
The pulpit can be seen in all of their Youtube videos. The rest of the staging area was cluttered with materials as they were working on decorating the whole area. The auditorium was decorated simply. It was a much different feeling than most churches that I’ve attended. I would describe it as very minimalistic.
To get a good idea of what it was like, imagine a strip mall and several store fronts had their interior walls knocked down. This was the basic setup of the church. There were a few simple rooms that were connected to the main auditorium, but no Sunday School rooms, no nurseries, nothing pretentious like most churches these days.
Several hours later I showed up for their Wednesday night service. I walked in to an older lady playing or practicing piano with much gusto. There were several people there when I arrived a few minutes early. I wondered how many of the seats would really be filled on their midweek service.
Slowly people started to show up, many of the ones that sat around me talked about soulwinning or some passage that they had read in their Bible recently. In front of me a man sat with his son on his lap and fervently read the Bible to him. The lady playing the piano got up several times and when she would get up your attention went to the audio Bible reading from Alexander Scourby that was playing in the background.
Near the back of the auditorium was a bookshelf with a large selection of DVDs of Pastor Anderson’s documentaries. Some large families began to come in with their children. The children weren’t quiet and refined, but they were generally well behaved.
I sat and paged through my Bible thinking about my own church and some of the differences. At my church, I’ve never heard someone sit behind or in front of me and talk about the Bible. I’m not sure how many people even know what soulwinning means in my church. And if they do know the term, it’s probably much different from the type of soulwinning going on at Faithful Word Baptist Church.
Before the service started, I noticed the videographer for Steven Anderson busy taking church family photos and snuck in to say hello. He was pretty distracted so I returned to my seat. I decided to call my daughters in Alaska while I had a few moments before the preaching began.
When I came back inside from my call, the auditorium was surprisingly full for a Wednesday service. Many churches I’ve attended have empty spaces on Sunday and half full auditoriums on Wednesday, not so with FWBC apparently, there were very few open seats. Just on my row there was only one space between me and the family that took up the rest of the row of chairs.
Finally the service began promptly on time and the song service began. The hymnals on the seats were important as there was no screen with fancy words for us to follow along. And I’ve been involved in the church music ministry for 12 years of my life, but there was still a song that they sung that I had never heard of before.
During their announcements, they had a major church event that they had to prepare for and they went through nearly 20 minutes of working out details for the event a couple days away. I thought it highlighted nicely their dedication to their soulwinning events. Many pastors I’ve met would have difficulty organizing on the fly like they did that night, but Pastor Anderson kept the whole thing moving and it ultimately seemed to impact the atmosphere of the room very little.
The sermon was just as powerful as any sermon you can find of his online. In fact, you can find that sermon online here.
Many people go to a church to be entertained. They want flashy Sunday School lessons and a drum set on the platform. Instead what you’ll find at FWBC is an old fashioned pulpit on the same level as the rest of the auditorium. There is no fancy sound system, no eloborate “children’s” ministry, and the people are more interested in the people outside their walls getting saved than they are of making their church visitors feel special.
And I appreciate that in a religious community.
Often churches begin to feel like a vanity fest. If the visitors get pampered and then become members they often keep that same vanity. The one person that greeted me was an average guy with average clothes that was unpretentious and just being friendly. He wasn’t overly friendly either.
Overall I enjoyed my experience at Faithful Word Baptist Church. But I’ve attended a church similar to theirs before and I’ve followed the sermons of Pastor Anderson for several years now. So I knew what I was getting myself into when I attended their service.
Before you go visit their church, definitely check out Steven Anderson’s videos on Youtube. But if you’re ready for God to work on your heart, I definitely recommend going there with a desire to obey and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
I've recorded two CD's that you can find on iTunes and Google Play. Check them out by clicking the image below. It's all hymns played on the piano with an evangelistic styling. It is all my own arrangements. Enjoy!