Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Event

Well, it’s hard to believe but this is the week that it happens.  Many of you know what I’m talking about, it’s the MPBC Christmas Candlelight Celebration coming up this Saturday, Dec 16th and Sunday, Dec 17th.  Our church has not “put on” a Christmas show in many years so we are excited about this weekend and we have taken on the task of putting together a great opportunity for our church family and our community to experience the gospel in a unique way.  We have been preparing for this service for months now and after all of the practices I think that everything is ready to roll and we are excited to see how God moves this weekend.  Through the work of well over 100 members of our church there is good music, good drama, special effects, you name it, but it is all being done to glorify God.  

I know that the Christmas season is very, very busy but I really hope that you come share in this service with us and that you will bring someone who needs to meet Jesus.  What greater gift could you give to someone than to give them the opportunity to hear about Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas?  Please pray for the services this weekend that lives would be changed and that God would be glorified in everything that takes place.  

I get excited when all of the work that is put into a project is finally completed and you “go live”.  No matter what goes wrong (and something undoubtedly will) you get to see the hand of God use our small efforts and see something GREAT happen.  For those of us who are in the program we will be exhausted but there is nothing better than being spent/used up for Christ.   John Wesley once said “You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work”.  I think he got this from Paul’s letter of concern to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And for the sake of your souls, I will most gladly spend my money and myself.  If I love you more, will you love me less?"  I’m glad that I can be used for Christ! 

This past Sunday night we had our final dress rehearsal and I think everything went very well and we are ready for next weekend.  Please pray for us that we will have the energy and strength needed to get through four performances in 2 days and that God is glorified in everything that is done at MPBC.

Here are a few photos for dress rehearsal to get you ready.
Merry Christmas!  





In Christ,

Geoff

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Impossible...

Do you ever look at everything going on around you and think "This is absolutely impossible!" I know I do. I could make lists that go on for days of impossible tasks that I've got to face. Some range from, "Wow, I will never get all of this laundry finished" to "It feels impossible to forgive that person," and "Will that person ever be able to see Jesus?". It seems like there are lots of "impossibles" in our every day life.

I went to a Kari Jobe concert a few months ago and I've held onto this one thing that she said. She said, "An impossible situation is a set up for a miracle from God." That is a way I haven't looked at things before...and I know I am seriously guilty of being defeated before I even get the whole picture. So, this mindset has been a nice change of pace for me.

Now, when I see the broken and lost people that I felt would never experience Jesus, I just pray harder. I pray that God will move in His miraculous ways and make their hearts whole. When I look at my grandfather and see all of the devastating illnesses and ailments that he is going to have to overcome, I see God bringing our family closer in ways we never have been before, relying on and trusting in God like we never have before. I am taking my "impossibles" and handing them to Jesus, trusting that He will make them into miracles.

As Isaiah 43 shows us, God will always make a way. In those verses, Isaiah tells us over and over again how God's hand cannot be overcome, ever. We are reminded of the absolute power of our God. I think Isaiah 43:19 is my favorite though.. It says:

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

God is making miracles happen all around us, can't you see it! Every morning we are blessed with another breath, another day to watch Jesus turn our impossible situations into crazy awesome miracles.

Hopefully, this week you will be encouraged to let Jesus make your impossible situation His miracle. Be reminded that He will always make a way.

Love & blessings!

Savannah

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Mindset of Thanksgiving

Psalm 9:1-2 says, "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praises to your name O Most High." 

To me, this verse sums up worship.  The part of the verse that gets me every time is "I will recount all of your wonderful deeds."  Something that we try to teach throughout our music ministry at Mt Pleasant (that I love) is that worship is about remembering.  Remembering the times that God pulled through for you.  Remembering the times the He proved His faithfulness.  Remembering what He has done for you.

On Thanksgiving, it's easy to think of the things that we're thankful for in our lives, whether it be our health, our friends and family, our church, etc.  All of those things are things we should definitely reflect on, but as of late, I'm also trying to recount God's faithfulness in my life.  Like worship, Thanksgiving is about remembering.  Instead of it being something we think about one week out of the year, try to let that be a mindset that you live in.  

As I recount all the things that He's done for me; my spouse, my children, my job, I'm reminded that every good and perfect thing is from the Father.  He is an extraordinarily good Father who brings what is needed when it's needed.  He has given me more than I'll ever deserve.  This Thanksgiving, just as David did in this Psalm, let's recount and remember together the Lord's faithfulness in our lives and give thanks for what He's done.

Peace,

Justin

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Jesus, My Rock of Ages

With this week's blog post I want to share a video of the Ladies Ensemble singing "Jesus, My Rock of Ages" with you.  It is an updated version of the classic hymn "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me".  "Rock of Ages" is one of those hymns I grew up singing and I'm really happy that we get to share this updated version with you.  Maddie did a tremendous job leading it and the Ladies Ensemble sounded wonderful as always.  The guy playing piano didn't even mess up too badly๐Ÿ˜‰.  So, enjoy!


Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ever Be

With this week's post I wanted to share with you the video of the choir special last night at our monthly Worship Wednesday Service.  It's called "Ever Be" and they did a great job!  Brooke did a wonderful job leading it and I believe that you'll really like it.  The video link is below. Enjoy!



Worship Big!

Brad

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Constant as the Stars

Hi friends! So for this week’s blog post I have decided that I am going to be delving into the topic of change. I can't think of a better example of change than the seasons. Watching the world go by in its cycle of vivid beauty and wonder is ever so peaceful. I adore the seasons of Fall and Winter. To me, they are utterly mesmerizing. Watching the leaves slowly transform from their lush green into brilliant reds, yellows and oranges is a real treasure from my perspective. It is so peaceful to watch snow begin to fall softly to the earth and coat everything in a pure white blanket. Change can be spectacular, but there are certain instances in which change is not so pleasant. There are certain places where change is inconvenient, like... life.

I am a girl who likes her consistency. I have my days planned out and my routines in place. When my schedule is thwarted I have the tendency to get a bit frazzled. However, after spending some time asking God to give me fresh perspective, I have come to accept that everything in the world is continuously changing, even ourselves. The things that we build up and put in place really just exist for us to retreat to when we are trying to provide ourselves with feeble security. Everything in this world is susceptible to the effects of time, and to the effects of that dreaded word: change. But you see, that’s one of the things that I love most about Jesus!  In a world that is fallible, chaotic, and occasionally unforgiving, He is the one thing that remains constant! He stands outside of the mess we know as our world and sweeps down in our moments of need to lift us back up again. His Holy Spirit is with us always, dwelling in our hearts, and because of this, we are constantly being transformed by His goodness.

I have come to conclude that, in a world where happiness is circumstantial, the joy found in Jesus is ever radiant. In a world that is driven by pride and avarice, His goodness draws us to be humble and gracious. In a world where love is sometimes conditional, His love is unending; it is as constant as the stars shining in the heavens. There is nothing like the peace that is found in Jesus Christ!

I was sitting down with the hopes of producing the makings of a song one night, and I was just burdened by the instability of the world. It was then that God impressed these comforting words upon my heart. Though the song is still a work in progress, the chorus goes a little something like this:

No love so sweet
No mercy pure
Could still my heart
Or calm my storm
Here in You
I remain secure
Here I’ll stay 
Forevermore

Sometimes, when I am troubled by change, I am reminded that there is no refuge so reassuring as the loving arms of Jesus. The peace of Jesus is freely extended to us, and is always accessible. His peace is found in His word, through prayer, and (my personal favorite), through worship. Singing to Jesus is almost indescribable. The way it ministers to and heals a person, words fall utterly short in attempting to justly describe it. His presence is so evident whether it be one person, or an entire body seeking to praise Him. It is my belief that congregational worship has this idiosyncratic ability to revive the soul. There is just something so profound about a body of like-minded people gathering together for one purpose: to glorify the Savior of the world. 

I am being absolutely literal when I tell you that singing is how I get through life. I sing to praise God for all that He has done for me, and I find comfort in that. It helps me cope with all the change in this life when I forget the world and focus my endeavors on the fact that the One who spoke the entirety of the world into existence, the One who holds the past, present, and future in His hands, the One whose sheer might goes light years beyond anything that I could possibly begin to comprehend, calls me His own! 

All that I have said comes down to this: We need not worry ourselves with the change of the world. We can accept it with hearts wide open because of the ever-constant nature of Jesus!  I would like to leave you with one of my favorite passages of scripture: “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.They will perish, but You will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but You are the same, and Your years have no end. The children of Your servants will dwell secure.” Psalm 102: 25-28. 

Keep Smiling,

Maddie :)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Worship and Theology

How much do your read and study your Bible?  I ask this, because as a musician and worship leader, I know how easy it can be to spend all of your time preparing for worship musically and very little spiritually.  Now, this isn't a slam on musicians or worship leaders/teams/choirs.  It's just the truth.  We get so wrapped up in the "experience" of worship that we neglect to spend time with God in Bible study and prayer.  And I get it.  Music is what moves and motivates us.  It's an emotional experience.  But there is a difference between being moved emotionally and being changed spiritually.  

In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind."

When we only focus on the emotional experience of worship, we put all of our focus on our "heart".  But Jesus also wants us to love God with all our "soul" and all of our "mind". To do that, we've got to spend time with Him in Bible study and prayer.

One of the things that I believe that musicians and worship leaders need to understand is that worship and Bible study (or theology) go together. They are not opposites.  They work together to make us better followers of Christ.  The more we know God through His Word, the more genuine our worship will be.  And the more genuine our worship is, the more we'll desire to seek God in His Word.  It's a circle.



To take it a step further, I believe that our "experiences" help solidify and strengthen what we study in the Bible and what we believe to be true about God.

In 2 Peter 1, the Apostle Peter is writing about the "experience" that he, James, and John had on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus.  Jesus' true glory was revealed, Moses and Elijah showed up, and God spoke from heaven.  If ever there was a worship "experience", this was it.  And here is what Peter wrote about it in verse 19:

"Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets."

Because of their "experience" they believed the message of the prophets (Old Testament/Bible) even more.  And the same holds true for us.  When we worship God in Spirit and in Truth, not only should we experience the presence of God, but it should also reinforce what we have learned about God through our study of His Word. 

So, this week, don't just prepare musically.  Make sure that you are prepared spiritually as well.

Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Time Limits?

15 minutes or 2 hours of worship? Should your corporate time of worship have a time limit?  That's still such a huge debate in the worship scene.  There are people who live on both sides of the pendulum of the issue and there are those in between.  So, what do you believe?  Let me give you my take...

One thing that we do at MPBC that I really appreciate is the fact that we make every week of worship a time to celebrate God and to remember what He's done for us.  When you talk about how great and awesome God is, it is never wrong.  Remember that.  Whether you're granted 20 minutes or an hour for worship, know that singing of His greatness will never go wrong.  Our goal is to connect with Jesus to connect with people.  We are looking for a fresh revealing of Jesus each week.  

Here at MPBC, we're structured.  We get 20 minutes for music and have 3 services. Musicians and singers have "X's" to stand on.  We have click tracks and even cues that keep us together. We have multiple camera platforms that operate on a tight ship. We have a countdown between services and a huge red clock displayed on the back wall.  We MUST have structure and a tight schedule to operate efficiently.  We have too much going on not to! And you know what?...it's okay!  Me, personally, I like the structure we have. I find comfort in it. I think God appreciates structure and planning.  It represents responsibility. Even in that structure, God is free to move.  It seems to be a common belief among some worship leaders that God can't move within a small amount of time in music.  My response is that God can move when and how He chooses.  The level of anointing and connection with God, and the length of a worship set really have nothing to do with each other.  We look to minister to God and to the person that's broken.  We look to minister to the husband and wife that could barely make it to church because of a car full of screaming kids.  All types of people make up the body of Christ and God is faithful to move in those people's lives during that time.  It creates a lasting effect on them.  Our time of worship should be about quality.

So, you're a worship leader who is given exactly 17 minutes of music each week.  What are you going to do with that 17 minutes?  It's easy to get into making a set-list in this topic, but my answer is pray.  Pray what God would have you lead.  He is already in your time of worship and He knows exactly who will be in the room and what they'll need for that day.  Know your congregation.  Don't just play songs that you or your team enjoy just for that purpose.  Sing songs that fit.  Are you given a strict time limit in your church? Good! Make it count.

Peace,

Justin

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Glorious Day

With last week's blog post, I shared a video of the Worship Choir singing "Your Mercy" from our Worship Wednesday Service.  They did an outstanding job and I know that the video was watched and shared a lot.  Well, with this week's post I would like to share with you a video of our Children's Choir singing from last night's service.  They sang a song called "Glorious Day" and did an AWESOME JOB!  I was extremely proud of them.  We've got a young and inexperienced group, but they did really well.  Emma Kate and Aiden did a great job leading the song and I know that the church really enjoyed it.  The video is below:


 Children's Choir-Glorious Day


Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Your Mercy

With this week's post, I'm really excited to share with you the video of the Worship Choir singing last night at our Worship Wednesday Service.  Over the last few years our choir has morphed from a performance choir into a worship choir.  They do a WONDERFUL JOB leading in worship each Sunday, but I also wanted them to have the opportunity to sing by themselves. So, they are now doing a choir special each time we have one of our Worship Wednesday Services.  Below is the video of them singing "Your Mercy" from last night's service.  It is OUTSTANDING!


 Your Mercy

Worship Big!

Brad

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Worship and Drama

Y'all! It's only 13 weeks until Christmas! Only 13 more Mondays...we can do it guys! So what does it all mean?! This means Christmas Program time ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ This means more practices, Christmas music, (I mean who doesn't love Christmas music in September?!) and the Christmas play! Y'all, it's time to celebrate the birth of Jesus! (And also pray Pastor Brad doesn't turn into "Passion Play Brad" before we even make it to Passion Play time ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฌ)

I'm so blessed to go to a church filled with so many wonderfully talented people...a church that not only has an amazing choir and worship team, but one that also has a drama team--I'm so thankful for a church that sees that worship can take place in many different forms! 

Before I became involved with the drama team at MPBC, I had never done many plays in a church setting. I'm a theatre major; I'm used to performing in front of hundreds of people, but the first 2 minute skit I ever did in front of the congregation was one of the most terrifying things I'd ever done! The pressure you feel to get it right is overwhelming! I mean this isn't just for entertainment, this is someone's life! This is the Word of God being spoken, not just meaningless lines on paper...it's a big deal! You get to be a messenger of truth and hope, and just like singing lyrics to a song (no matter how upbeat or how serious) the same can be done through drama when you come with your heart ready to receive the presence of Jesus! 

I'm ready, are you?!

Nicole

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Back to Church Sunday

Mrs. Hodges bust through the door and said with a sense urgency, and almost panic, “Turn on the TV, quick! A plane has hit the world trade center!”.  Mrs. Howell got the remote and turned the TV on (I don’t think it really mattered which channel it was on that day, the news was everywhere) to see fire and smoke coming out a huge hole in one of the two tallest buildings in New York.  We were too young to realize the weight of what just happened, but we all new it was bad. There was not a sound in the room other than the news men and women.  As we focused in to see what was happening
there came another plane which crashed into the second tower (which I had the privilege to see just a few months earlier on a trip up north with my family over spring break 2001).  The explosion was so real and happened so fast that even hundreds of miles away, we could almost feel it.  The rest of the day was a lot quieter, there was no noise in the halls or classrooms other than people talking about what had just happened.  I was in the 7th grade when America was attacked on September 11, 2001.


That next Sunday churches were FULL of people looking for hope, community, answers, and maybe Christ.


I don’t remember when the phrase “Back to Church Sunday” came about, but I know that the Sunday after September 11th is “ Back to Church Sunday”.  It is a day that we should all reflect back to that Tuesday and remember those who died during and after the World Trade Centers were attacked.  As you recall it, think of all the times that God has come through in His time, to answer your prayers, give you strength, and calm your weary spirit.  The reason so many people came to church then was to find what “we” have, even if they didn’t know that’s why they came. They may not have even heard of the Christ (so how could they actively seek Him?), but the masses hoped the comfort they were seeking could be found in the church.  The truth is, it can be found only in a relationship with God through Jesus, but people have to hear the Word first, and that’s where the second part of “Back to Church Sunday” comes in.

The second part is you and me inviting some people to our church next Sunday. People who we cross paths with everyday that may need to hear the preached word.  Just think of it; if 600 people invited 1 person and they all came on Sunday.  Now, you and I both know better, so let’s say 25% of them come on Sept 17th. That would be 750 people which would be like Easter or Christmas numbers.  MPBC has had that many before which means there are people willing to come. People might be willing to come if they’re invited, and who would invite them except us?  Interesting how that chain is linked together.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to just see numbers because each of those 750 would represent a person.  Each one will have troubles and good times, debt and blessings, and most importantly, each one is a soul that God has made unique in His own way.  Those souls are the very thing that we want to see reconciled with Christ.  Tell them about our Flag Football League, the Soccer League in the spring, the Passion Play, the Christmas Candlelight Celebration Service, our Worship Time, the teaching of the Bible verse by verse, the community that you have even at a large church, the MPBC App, and just why you go.  Talk to them about where they were “when the world stopped spinning that September day” (to quote Alan Jackson) and ask how they remember it, what they felt, and how they responded.  Tell them it is “Back to Church Sunday “ and you would like them to come.  Go to them with the sole purpose of steering the conversation towards September 11th, 2001 and then steering it toward MPBC, which will lead them to the hearing of Christ. Which is the entire goal anyway.  I hope this week you and I both will have the courage to take this challenge, possibly for the first time.

I say go for it!

Derek

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

FaithFest

WOW is all that I can say about the Christian music festival that was held this past weekend here in Wilkesboro.  A big shout out to Craig Church of Craig Church Ministries who put this vision into reality.  Craig is a longtime friend and member of MPBC who does some amazing work in evangelism all over the world.  This event was a huge undertaking, but it was well organized and with the help of great sponsors and hundreds of volunteers, God was definitely glorified and people were exposed to the gospel.  

As a member of the MPBC praise team I love good music and on Saturday I was blessed to be part of this great event that brought national Christian artists like Unspoken, Matthew West, Phil Wickham, Meredith Andrews, Jason Crabb, Matt Hammitt, and Finding Favor to little ol' Wilkes County, NC.  Faith Fest also afforded the opportunity to local artist Caleb’s Crossing, John Lewis and our MPBC Praise Team member Kandace Brown to use their talents and glorify God as they sang in this venue.  This event was more than just a music event.  It was an event where we saw thousands come together to not only hear good music, but also hear the word of God preached by Craig and challenge us to carry the cross of Christ every day.  What an AWESOME experience it was! I really felt the presence of God throughout the evening and it was wonderful to see the community come together to support this outreach event. 

I must admit that at times I got caught up in watching the bands as they performed trying to see what they did musically or what their stage presence was like, hoping that I might see something that I could use to better my role on the praise team.  As the evening went on I stopped watching what was going on and drifted into “worship”.  You see true worship cannot be planned for, it just happens.   For me it was during one of Jason Crabb’s songs and I just had to stand and raise both hands toward heaven, I didn’t care who saw me or what they thought.  When you are in the presence of God you will give him praise!   Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe that we can prepare our minds for worship, but true worship happens when we let go, don’t worry about what others see and just focus on God.
  
My prayer is that anytime that I am in front of others, my focus will be on singing and praising God and not worrying about what people see.  If I can do this then God will be glorified and hopefully I can be a vessel that will help lead others into letting go and worshiping as well.
  
Psalm 95:  Oh come, let us sing to the Lord.  Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving, let us make a joyful noise to him with songs or praise.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 

I have no idea how many people attended the inaugural FaithFest, but here are a couple of pictures that I took looking back over the
crowd. It was awesome to see people praising God and lifting their hands toward heaven. 



Just a little glimpse of what heaven may look like!

Geoff

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This Is Choir

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Brad posted a blog called "Top 10 Reasons to Join the Worship Choir".  It was great, it summed up everything that the MPBC Worship Choir is as well as touched on some things to come.  In this post, I think I would like to show you an 11th reason to join the Worship Choir at MPBC. 

This past Wednesday was the 2nd practice we've had since our big kick-off and it was awesome.  We had a total of 59 people! We went over some new music for events coming in the near future and also songs for this weekend's services. We even have a small group prayer time and a devotion each week! The room was packed and what an awesome sound it was!  Check this out...



Yep...this is what you can expect at choir practice!  That was one little clip of our practice together while going over songs for Sunday.  Nothing extremely structured or formal; just great people singing to the Lord and enjoying His presence.  What an awesome time of fellowship and encouragement!  I consider these people a second family! This truly is a highlight of my week!

If you've thought about giving choir a try, come on out!  You won't be sorry you did!

Peace,

Justin

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Not About Perfection

I had a conversation with a fellow praise team member on Wednesday night that stuck with me.... We were both talking about being perfectionists and how we struggle to find the positive when something goes wrong or doesn't work out perfectly. Especially when we’re onstage. I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to musical things. Whether I’m singing a song or playing an instrument. I used to be a “if it’s not perfect I’m not even going to try” person. I could sit here and tell you every time I’ve even slightly messed up on any song in the past 10 years. I have gotten into the habit of keeping a log in my head of all of my mistakes. This can sometimes be a good thing, but more often than not, it isn't. 

Recently, I’ve been working on being happy and finding positivity in all circumstances. This is also a good outlook to have in life. ;) I remind myself on a daily basis that God isn't asking for perfect, He is only asking for our best. I know the last thing He wants is for me to beat myself up over a small mistake that I made during a song. In this life things will go wrong. There will always be chaos and mistakes that are made. If everything were to always be perfect then heaven wouldn't seem nearly as wonderful. 

I think about this a lot. God is the essence of perfection and we are to be like God and strive for perfection, but not in a way that is obsessive or unhealthy. He wants our best. Whatever that may be. That is comforting to me... just knowing that God is up in heaven preparing a place that is perfect and that He loves us not for our perfect performances onstage or in life, but because we are His children. 

The next time you worry about a mistake you made or a problem you’re facing remember that God is on the throne and He loves us... for us. In all of our imperfect, chaotic and sometimes downright ugly ways. We truly serve such a good good Father! :)

Kandace

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Top 10 Reasons to Join the Worship Choir

Next week, the Mt. Pleasant Worship Choir will resume practice with our first ever Worship Choir Kick-Off.  To help encourage people to join us, here is a list of the top 10 reasons for you to join the Worship Choir.

1.  You'll gain another family.  Some of the best people you will ever meet are in the choir.  This group really cares for and takes care of each other.  This is a great way to build lasting relationships and find new sources of accountability in your walk with God.

2.  No auditions or solos.  You don't have to be the most talented musician in the world to come sing in the choir.  If you can't read music, no problem.  Just come sing along and you'll be fine.

3.  Intellectual stimulation.  When you sing, you are using both sides of your brain simultaneously.

4.  People who are involved in music live longer and are healthier.  I have no actual proof of this, but I read it on the internet so it must be true๐Ÿ˜‰.

5.  We'll make sure you are ready to lead worship each week.  Not only will we spend time reviewing the music for the upcoming Sunday each practice, but we will also spend time in prayer and devotion each week.

6.  Worship Wednesdays.  On one Wednesday night a month (Worship Wednesday), the choir participates in
helping lead the congregation in worship.  It's the one time a month where we all have the opportunity to lead together (as opposed to Sundays where we are split between the 3 services).  Plus, starting this October, the choir will also be performing 1 song by themselves during each Worship Wednesday Service.  People are going to be really excited to hear the choir sing by themselves again!

7.  The Mt. Pleasant Christmas Candlelight Celebration. 
This is something new that we are doing this year and it isgoing to be AWESOME!!!  The Praise Team/Band, Worship Choir, Children's Choir, Drama Team, Production Team, and Pastors will all be participating in this unbelievable celebration of the birth of Jesus.  You are not going to want to miss out on being a part of it!

8.  The Mt. Pleasant Passion Play.  This will be our 9th year presenting the play.  Each year it is an unbelievable experience for everyone who is involved with it and you'll definitely want to be included.

9.  3 Words:  CHOIR. IS. FUN!  It really is.  And we laugh a lot!  Sometimes we have such a good time that I don't know how we actually accomplish anything.

10.  Worship.  Singing is one of the best ways to worship God and singing with a room or stage full of believers is one of the greatest things you'll ever experience.

So, come join us!  I promise you won't regret it.

Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Skinny on Worship

With this week's post I was going to share some mind blowing thoughts on worship, but then I saw this video from Skitguys and thought you all would enjoy it a lot more๐Ÿ˜‰.

So, ENJOY!



Worship Big!

Brad

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

An Honorable Job

My grandpa told me once that any job, no matter what it is, is an honorable job.  He said whether it’s flipping burgers, working as a substitute teacher, CEO, or any other profession, as long as you work hard to supply for your family, are dependable, and commit your work to the Lord, no one could look down on you.  My mother has said that the Lord has always blessed her and my father with health and strength to work each and every day.  “We will never be rich but we’ve never missed a bill because the Lord provides”, she would say.  I believe this to this day, as I have worked in a few different fields (literally while working in the Christmas tree fields of Ashe County). Through them all I have tried to be thankful for health and dependable to a hilt, though sometimes I just don’t want to go, or I may disagree with the people who have authority over me.  I’m sure all of us have days like this in our workplace and in the duties we have at home and church.  If you will allow me some “creative license” (as Pastor Kevin says) maybe we can find honor in our jobs (particularly in the church).

Have you ever thought about how many “jobs” are taking place every week at MPBC?  All the people on staff (that are kinda on call because if something goes wrong who will be there to deal with it), the kitchen crew who works to feed all of us weekly, the grounds keeper, the cleaning crew (think about how big our campus is when you think of these two), security teams, teachers for Sunday, VBS and Wednesday nights, the sound booth, video crew , band, choir, the person that folds the bulletin every week (how would you like to fold probably 400+ every week?), the coffee maker  (and when they’re gone we know it don’t we?). I’m sure there are more than that, that I can’t recall, who come every week to work for the Lord, everyone of them does their part and does it well.  

You see we all have a role to play in the “body of Christ” in that no one can say that any of these duties are not important, think about what would happen if they all went away overnight. MPBC would be an overgrown lot with dirty facilities, where the chairs never get moved (there’s another job, the chair movers), food is not cooked, no fresh batteries for the mics, no coffee (I, with some of you, just winced). MPBC would not exist.  

All of these above are physical things.  What about the more spiritual things?  The body is physical along with spiritual.  Let’s start with the feet.  Feet are good for one thing only and that is “going”. At MPBC we have people who have traveled literally to other continents to spread the gospel of the Christ. Through our mission teams to other places peoples hearts have been changed. The heart is the boiler in the belly of the ship that gives energy to everything on board. Just as compassion for the lost fuel the fires to GO, for without compassion what would be our motivation to work out in the hot sun to build a church in Mexico with our bare hands?  

The hands are the way we physically connect to the world by a loving hug, swinging a hammer, playing guitar, holding a rifle to defend our freedom, or making a beautiful tapestry.  People that are the hands of Jesus are the one’s who are in the grit of the world. They may hug you or help you build a garage, or go to China just to love on handicapped children, or they may put you in a velvet vice when you need to be guided with some force back to Christ.  The elderly lady who prays without ceasing for her grandchild and the person who does mundane work without much recognition could be the backbone of the whole thing (I mean, when was the last time you gave thanks for your backbone?).  

The voice are those who preach, sing, or write to proclaim the gospel with a white hot fervor or to give encouragement quietly to someone in need.  None of it works without someone to lead and do the logistics, which could be the brain.  

Now this is just an image of what the “body of Christ” could be, there are many different parallels that you could put with this example, and someone could be multiple parts simultaneously, but all of them should have the same thread running through which is to work hard, be dependable, and commit yourself in every aspect to the Lord.  Give thanks for health and strength and never think that your job is not honorable.  “For the body does not consist of one member but many...but God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it”-1 Corinthians 12:14, 24b-27.   
In C.S. Lewis’ writing, The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape is guiding his nephew along in the practice of tripping up Christians using all different techniques. You see, they are demons working for “Our Father down below” which is Satan.  In chapter 2, Screwtape says this, “One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to those humans”.  You see the Church body has spanned throughout time while still bringing the same message which is redemption through grace, but we struggle to see anything beyond ourselves and what our story is. And even as this piece of literature is fiction, I believe that it is correct.  Our tempters do see the Church through time because they have been trying to bring it to destruction ever since it began.  

So, instead of looking at our positions and seeing worthlessness, mundane and think, “what is the point?”, let's see our jobs as part of a bigger painting that glorifies God. and just doing that alone is enough to bestow on you honor of the highest rank.  Not to mention all the things that you do for your family, church, friends, and your profession which are all honorable and the Lord sees those also.   I hope you can find encouragement in these words and realize that whatever you do, commit it to Lord, and it will be “An Honorable Job”.

I say go for it!

Derek

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wounds and Wins

A few weeks ago I heard a Worship Pastor say that we (meaning Worship Pastors) judge ourselves by our "wounds and wins".  Meaning, we judge ourselves by all of the hard and rough times we've gone through in ministry and by all the successes we've experienced in ministry.  And it's true!  Put two Worship Pastors in a room together and they'll start off by talking about the good things they are involved in within music ministry, but eventually they will begin showing off battle scars from all the wars they've endured during their time in ministry.  And in all honesty, most of their time together will be spent telling war stories and showing off scars and more recent wounds.  Well, with this week's post I want to share with you some of the "WINS" I've experienced at MPBC and not get bogged down by the "wounds" and scars I've endured and accumulated in my 20 years of ministry.  So, here we go:

1.  No More Worship Wars:  We have a church that doesn't argue about music and musical styles anymore.  Any church that has been around for awhile will eventually have to deal with what style of music they are going to have.  And I am happy to say that MPBC gives me and the worship team the freedom to use whatever style of music we want or need, to create an atmosphere of worship.  That can't be said in a lot of churches across the country.  They argue every week over what instruments will be played, whether to sing modern worship songs or older hymns, and how loud or soft the music needs to be.  I'm grateful to say that we are past that.
 Now, that doesn't mean that everyone is happy with the musical selections each week.  No, it just means that people understand the fact that not every song or style has to be geared towards them.  Sometimes, we do songs for the younger generation (like "Grace Like a Wave") and sometimes we do songs for the older generation (like our version of "Victory in Jesus").  Our people seem to understand that worship isn't about them.  And that is most definitely a "WIN"!!!

2.  Congregational Singing:  We have a church that sings.  Now, don't get me wrong, not everyone sings.  But as I look out over the congregation each Sunday morning, a LOT of people are singing and participating.  Some, obviously more than others.  But still, they're participating and that's pretty awesome!

3.  The Next Generation:  One of the great things about MPBC is how many young adults are involved in the music and worship ministry here.  They are actively involved each
and every Sunday in leading in worship.  They are gaining great experience and it's good to know that one day when my voice is gone and I can't play the guitar anymore, someone else will be ready to step in and take my place.

4.  The Passion Play:  This year we'll be presenting our 9th Passion Play.  It seems like just yesterday I was asking Kelly Nichols to play Jesus in our very 1st play and now we're on our 3rd actor to portray Jesus.  The Passion Play has been a tremendous ministry for the church and a blessing to
everyone who has participated in it or witnessed it (at least I hope).  We've seen a number of people make decisions for Christ throughout the years and also a number of people get introduced to MPBC for the first time who have since come to be active members.  Many of them have gone on to participate in the Passion Play themselves.

5.  Investment:  We have a church that is willing to invest in the music and worship ministry.  Most churches don't like to spend money on music.  It always seems to come in last in terms of need when compared to other ministries within the church.  But not here.  The church is proud of our music and worship and is willing to invest money in it to make it better.  The church was even willing hire a full-time Media Director and hire me an assistant who has become our worship ministry associate.  I know a lot of other Worship Pastors who would love to have the help that I have.

6.  Worship Projects:  One of the really cool things that we've been able to do here at MPBC is to record our own worship
CD's.  And through them we've been able to share the gospel and encourage people.  I've been amazed to hear stories of people in other states who have heard one of our CD's and how a song that we wrote or recorded helped them through hard times they were going through or encouraged them to be more dedicated to following Christ.  It's pretty cool!  

Now, I'm pretty sure I could just keep on listing example after example of "WINS" that we've seen here at MPBC, but I think you get the idea.  I've experienced a lot of "wounds" in my time in ministry, but I'm grateful for MPBC, because now my "WINS" far outnumber them.

Worship Big!

Brad  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

An Old Favorite

In today's music culture, new music gets released all the time, even in christian, church-based music. It seems like Bethel is coming out with a new record every 2 months.  The idea of new music is great and I love it.  However if you're a worship leader in your church, you know it's up to you and/or your team to pick music that you think would work for your congregation and that will lead them into the presence of Jesus.  For me, I sometimes have to remind myself to think about our congregation when listening to new music.  There's so much new music being released and for the most part, I really do enjoy it all.  But not every new christian song is going to work in your church.  Not every new Hillsong single is going to connect with someone other than the 20 year old college student.  So, for those reasons, we have to think of our church as a whole.  Do you ever scroll through the radio stations hearing all the new music that you aren't quite used to, then you find the station that plays the 80's hits and it just feels familiar?  In the same way, sometimes in the midst of all the new music in the christian world, it just feels good to hear an old favorite.  

I'm excited about our "new" song for August.  We are breaking out a song that we used to do called "Here In Your Presence" by New Life Worship that was released in 2010.  I really do enjoy this song musically and lyrically.  It's one of few songs that talks about just being in the presence of God and the emotions associated with it.  To me, it's brilliant and our congregation enjoys it.  It's been a few years since we've done it and we've since added the use of MultiTracks, which have a click track for the team, a vocal guide and other backing tracks that we can't pull of live.  In our recent month of practice, I can really tell the progress our team has made in the last few years.  We have a lot of the same people, but we are much tighter and are just better musicians and that goes for everyone on the stage.  Needless to say, I've really been impressed with the progress it's made.  I'm really excited to re-introduce this song to our congregation.  There's something to be said for breaking out an old favorite.  It's a breath of fresh air for most folks and for those who haven't heard it or had the chance to experience it, it's a nice surprise.  


If you're searching for a new song for your congregation and seem to be stuck, look back at some of your old music and see what's there that might work again.  Challenge your team to re-learn it, focus on the song and really try to capture some of the nuance you may have missed in the past.  I know you'll be blessed by it.  You may even be able to notice some progress made by your team's maturity and musicianship.  We'll re-introduce "Here In Your Presence" again in August, but until then, check out the video of the song below!




Peace, 

Justin

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jesus Never Fails

In last week's blog post I shared how I was disappointed in the way that the conference I was attending was utilizing choirs.  There's nothing wrong with a choir who performs.  I was just hoping they would also show how a choir can be used for corporate worship time.  One choir I saw did sing "Revelation Song".  Unfortunately, it was in latin.  That was kind of how the week went when it came to choirs.  But, even with that disappointment, there were still some good things at the conference.  And one of those things was Cana's Voice.



Cana's Voice is a trio consisting of Jody McBrayer (Avalon), TaRanda Greene (The Greenes and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir), and Doug Anderson (Signature Sound).  They were outstanding!  And the best song they did (at least in my opinion) was "Jesus Never Fails".  I'll be honest.  I am biased towards that song.  It was the first song I sang in church after I started taking voice lessons during my senior year of high school.  My voice teacher taught it to me and another young lady he was working with.  So, it does mean a lot to me.  

But even beyond my bias it is an unbelievable song.  It was a #1 song for the group Truth back in the 80's but is still relevant even today.  It simply states that no matter what you are going through and no matter what is happening in the world, there is one person who will never fail-Jesus!

Here's a video of Cana's Voice singing "Jesus Never Fails". Make sure you watch at least until the 2:34 mark. That's when it gets really good๐Ÿ˜‰



Worship Big!

Brad

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Is the Future of the Choir in the Past?


I'm in Gatlinburg, Tennesee this week for a worship conference put on by Lifeway Worship.  One of the major points of emphasis of the conference is the importance of the choir.  I totally agree.  I think that choirs are an extremely important element in corporate worship and a wonderful way to get people in church involved in ministry.  But that's not the way they are being presented and utilized here.  

So far, I've seen 2 choirs perform here and that's exactly what they were:  performances.  They were billed as
"worship" times, but were in reality, just opportunities to show off.  Don't get me wrong.  They were excellent choirs.  Very talented and extremely prepared.  But they just performed for us.  At no point in time were we invited to participate with them.  

Is that the future of choirs? I'm going to be honest with you.  It kind of feels like the past.  That's what choirs were doing when I was a kid.  Where is the corporate worship?  Where is the worship leading?  A choir is supposed to enhance our worship.  They are supposed to encourage, inspire and lead us in worship, not worship for us. 

Here's the thing, I don't have it all figured out.  Music and worship ministry is changing all the time.  And I'm like everyone else, I'm just trying to figure it all out.   But listening and watching people here, you'd think the best course of action for the future of music ministry is to revert back to 1975:  choir robes, anthems and organ music.  There's got to be a better way.

That's one of the reasons that I'm so grateful for our choir at MPBC. They love to lead in worship.  I really do believe it is their favorite thing to do.  Now, that doesn't mean that they won't ever do a "special" during a service.  In fact, I'm planning on them doing one each month during our First Wednesday services beginning in the fall.  They will also participate in our Christmas Candlelight Celebration in December and lead most of the songs during the 2018 Mt. Pleasant Passion Play. But, their main role is to lead, inspire and encourage in worship.  And that's what they do BEST!

Worship Big!

Brad