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 true😉.

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 more😉.

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!



video

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 good😉


video

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




Monday, June 19, 2017

Just How Big He Is...

Do you ever just sit & wonder... "wow, our God is so big." After VBS this past week, I've been contemplating that quite a bit. We have the most awesome Father who created the galaxies, yet He still thought that there was room for me. For 5'2, all of 110lbs soaking wet, me. Just think about that for a second...

In Psalm 147, it says:

“He determines and counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord and of great power; His understanding is inexhaustible and boundless.”

‭‭This wasn't the memory verse for the week at VBS, but I made sure to teach it to my little ones. So as to remind them, that our God has numbered each and every star, as well as each hair on our heads. To tell them that, His knowledge passes all understanding, yet all He desires is to be close to us--for us to draw near to Him. 

And I think that's what I've been stuck at lately. That it is beyond any comprehension that the Maker of the entire universe asks nothing of me, but to be close to Him. He holds all this power, and all this knowledge, and asks nothing of me, but to walk in love with Him. How awesome is that. 

I hope each & every one of you have a blessed week! 

Savannah

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When Your Voice Is Loud, But Your Words Are Empty

When your voice is loud, but your words are empty.  Do you ever feel that way?  If you're human, you do.  Whether in your job, a relationship or any other area of life involving people,  you're going to feel that way at some point.   For Christians, that may be an all-too-familiar feeling that seems to come in seasons.  Do you ever feel like you pray, read and seek Jesus with all your heart and yet....nothing?  You may be seeking Him on how to handle a situation or praying for someone and their health or salvation, or it may just be a normal day and you just don't hear or feel anything.  You're not alone.  But, what if you're a worship leader in your church?  What if it's your week to sing or play and you aren't hearing from God about an issue that you need some help in.  You feel nothing.  You seem to be screaming at Him for an answer and you get complete silence.  What then?

I've been there.  It's a hard place to be in when you feel that God isn't hearing you and you're needing an extra dose of patience and understanding at that point in time.  You sing and play on a platform in your church, knowing that you still aren't hearing from Him.  It's quite a lonely feeling isn't it?  It drains you spiritually, mentally and sometimes even physically.  In my case, the thing that helped was beginning to learn the art of listening.  In some ways I can be terrible at listening.  I can hear, but I don't always listen.  Sometimes it's the fact that I think I'm not hearing from God, but in reality it's that God isn't speaking to me in a way that I feel like He should.  So, my prayer as of late has been for Him to help me be more aware and to do a little more listening and a lot less talking.  


I'm often drawn to think of Elijah.  What a relationship He had with God and what a longing he had to be with Him. God used Elijah to hold rain from the people for over 3 years because of their sin. I can imagine how Elijah was dis-liked.  Yet, he was faithful and preached all this time, but he heard nothing from God.  God just seemed to be inactive.  But, seemingly out of nowhere.....


                                          "After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land."    1 Kings 18:1


That's an encouraging story for me.  The Lord took care of Elijah, giving exactly what he needed, exactly when he needed it.  The "when" can sometimes be the hard part. 


Recently, I was at a worship conference and was listening to Paul Baloche speak.  Someone asked him about continuing in worship while going through somewhat of a drought in your walk with God.  He gave a simple, yet perfect answer.  He said, "You're going to go through this, and sometimes you just have to put on your tool belt and go to work".  What a great answer to a seemingly complicated question.  At that moment, our jobs as worship leaders is about something far bigger than ourselves.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we are creating a meeting between God and His congregation.  Seek Him even in the dark and in the silence.  I've also found encouragement in the fact that a teacher is always silent during a test.  God is doing something.


In these times of silence, no matter how painful, no matter the level of anticipation you have, know that you are in God's best interest.  When you read, pray and seek Him; listen.  Do a little less talking and a lot more listening.  Don't ignore the silence. Quiet your voice and lessen your words.  Sometimes God's biggest moves come after periods of silence.  Think about Elijah.  In the fullness of time, you will see His power displayed.


Peace,  


Justin




Thursday, June 8, 2017

Unfailing Everything

I’m going to make a confession… music is an extremely important part of my life. Naturally, I have genres and styles that I prefer, and I have favorite songs.  I love the music we do at MPBC.  It always has a way to move me whether I’m on stage playing it or not.  We just started doing a new song called “King of my Heart” and it’s my absolute favorite!  The musicality is fairly straightforward, and the choruses repeat the same phrase, but the message in the verses is what never fails to inspire.  In my limited experience as a songwriter, I’ve come to the conclusion that lyrics define a song and absolutely determine its power.  Without depth, a song is just sound that doesn’t actually move people.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I crave music that means something!  Words are some of the most influential things in creation. But, there’s a certain paradox in words. They can be used to comfort or wound, to strengthen or discourage, as weapons or as shields.  Worship music uses words in a way that, to me, nothing else ever has or ever will.  In addition to the power of words, I think accompaniment enhances the emotion of certain points in a song.  What I love about the song “King of My Heart” is that it’s not only a balance of so many musical components; it ministers to people. The music never overpowers the lyrics, but it compliments them in such a beautiful way that the resounding message of the song is unmistakable. I think my favorite part of the song is the last bit of the second verse: 

“Let the King of my heart be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days, oh He is my song”

These lyrics perfectly encase my life prayer. It’s literally my benediction to Jesus. I relate to those words on a spiritual level, and every time those words roll off of my tongue, I feel them with every ounce of my being. I think the reason music is so powerful in general is that it is so very relatable. When people can relate to something in some way, they open up their heart to it, and that’s how God moves. Whenever we play that song on a Sunday morning, I love seeing how people respond to it. It brings my heart inexplicable joy to see that something so dear to me (music) is something that God uses as a vessel to bear witness with hearts in the room. That’s another reason why I love the song so much. It’s approachable to a congregation because of it’s simplistic depth. (How’s that for an oxymoron?)  The words of this song are the heartcry of the body of Christ... the declaration of praise!  Like the song says, He will never ever let us down, because He is good! Every lyric in this song provides me with unspeakable comfort and perfectly describes my desire for Christ in my life. The verses that come to mind when I hear this song are from Psalm 47:5-7: 

“God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.” 

He is our King, our everything and He’ll never let us down. So, may the message of unending love and unchanging grace forever fill our hearts and may Christ be the resounding echo of every single one of our days, because He is our unfailing everything!!

Keep smiling,

Maddie 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Found in You

With this week's post I wanted to introduce you to a song that we'll start teaching the church this upcoming Sunday.  It's called "Found in You" by Vertical Church Band.  It's a wonderful, fun, exciting, energetic, declaration that "All we want and all we need is found in You (Jesus)". Our Children's Choir actually sang this song a few weeks ago on a Wednesday night and had a lot of fun with it.  They had motions worked up for the chorus and bridge sections and really sang out the whole song.  

The video of Vertical Church Band doing the song is below. 

If everyone really likes it, maybe we can get some of the kids from the Children's Choir to teach us the motions😉.

Worship Big!

Brad


video



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We Are Called "Team" for a Reason

I remember back when we were a small group and how in those days we each played and sang every single Sunday morning. Those are fond memories, but were often tiring times! Times have changed and with all the talent of a large church, there are many singers and musicians that can spread across multiple teams… in the end all being the “Praise Team.” Those early years of the team were when I was very young. But, I look back on the time I was invited to be involved and how the time we spent practicing and playing together meant even more to me BECAUSE I was the youngest person on the team at the time. I was so grateful that no one looked down on me because I was young, but allowed me to participate and help set an example. Each compliment and encouragement made me soar and reminded me that I may not have all the experience of older adults, but that this was just one place I could start getting the tools I needed to succeed. Now I see many young faces across multiple teams in our church and I am thankful that age doesn’t matter. As long as you can do what you are up there to do and do it well, while giving God all the glory, that’s what matters.

So whether you are a veteran at leading worship, or new to the whole experience, I pray that we all remember one word: TEAM. We are each a single piece working to make one large masterpiece. No one is greater than another, because when God looks down, He sees many pieces striving and thinking and focusing on all the parts of the music to make something beautiful all in His name. He doesn’t care about your resume or how many years you have worked. He doesn’t care about gray hairs or fine lines. He doesn’t mind if you are scared out of wits because those ear buds in your ears are so weird and it is all so new. He does care about your heart. Let’s make every effort to always encourage the members of the team and make it stronger as a whole so that our music is even more beautiful and glorifying to the King.  

Katy

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Is Jesus the Conductor of Our Worship?

A few years ago I watched a video sermon based off Louie Giglio’s ‘Stars and Whales’ (if you’ve never seen it before, here’s the link https://vimeo.com/54384759.)  I was in complete awe. I had no idea that the stars in the galaxies thousands of light-years away had an actual sound. That the sun or the earth spinning on its axis made a sound—the thought never crossed my mind. Isn’t it amazing to think that God, the creator of the universe, is the Conductor of the most magnanimous worship choir EVER?!? I was so overcome with emotion to hear the stars in the galaxy and whales in the ocean literally singing praises to their Creator.

As I watched and listened, I realized that I don’t always allow Jesus to be the Conductor of my worship and my heart. I want to do the leading, and I always end up feeling lost and frustrated. A conductor’s job is to lead and guide, to keep time, to ensure correct entries by members of the ensemble, and give instruction. Without the conductor, everything is going to go awry—because without their guidance and instruction, we cannot possibly give our best performance. Just like we need a conductor in music, we need to let Jesus be the Conductor of our worship and our hearts. A passage in Called to Worship by Vernon Whaley states: 

“Without a conductor, there is no hope for unified presentation, but rather, dissonance and rhythmic chaos—in short, a musical mess."

But in our worship, we must see Jesus as our Conductor, who came to this world to direct a magnificent symphony that puts us in harmony with God and each other. And if we let Him, Jesus will restore order out of chaos and transform our ugly discord into beautiful music for the glory, honor, and praise of the Most High God.”

That seems so simple, right? Let Jesus conduct and we live in perfect harmony. Obviously, Satan doesn’t like that, and tells us to take Jesus’ baton and lead our own lives…and it NEVER works. We get on our high horses; we become boastful, arrogant, and conceded. We say things we shouldn’t, we think things we shouldn’t, and we lose focus on what truly matters—Jesus. We take our eyes off Him and we stumble, or worse, we cause our brother to stumble.

Maybe today would be a good day to hand the baton back to Jesus. Let Him lead and guide and direct our hearts and our worship. After all, we were never qualified for the job in the first place!

Cheers,

Nicole 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Music Stands on Stage?

Should we allow music stands on stage?  This can definitely be a question with several answers but not necessarily a 100% correct answer.  As in any other decision making process, I'll lay out some pros and cons of music stands and maybe even a helpful alternative. 

First, let's look at the cons of having stands on stage...

1.  They're ugly.  That has to be the biggest complaint of a traditional style music stand.  You can try to put them off to the side, lower them some, but they're still just a black orb taking up space on stage and depending on how many you have, it can almost be distracting.

2.  A/V Teams.  For the same reason as number 1, I can only imagine that camera guys despise them.  They get in the way of desired shots and hide musicians instruments.  Also, lighting crews aren't always thinking about allowing light on the stage for a musician to be able to see their sheet music.  

3.  Musicianship.  This can be a large part of the argument, and a tricky one.  It's debatable that the use of a music stand can injure the musicianship of someone who plays an instrument.  Having the sheet music and/or chord charts can be relied upon too much and can lead to just playing through the songs and never REALLY learning them.

4.  Distraction.  This can go hand in hand with Musicianship.  If you're just playing along and following a chord chart and are focused on it, then are you able to do your part to engage the congregation in worship?  This entails personal practice, which I think our teams are good at and take that responsibility upon themselves.  When relied upon to get you through the song, having a chord chart on a music stand in front of you can be very distracting, especially with trying not to lose your place on the paper.

You may be able to think of more cons, but here are a few pros to having the music in front of you.

1.  Piece of Mind.  Having the music there as a reference and a slight reminder can be comforting.  We have 3 Sunday morning services and do a sound check before 1st service.  During soundcheck, we run through all the songs, just like service.  So on Sundays, the band does the same set 4 times.  Needless to say, things can begin to run together after some time.  As a keyboard player or bass player, knowing that you're such a foundation to the music, having the music readily available can be very comforting because at some point or another, you will blank for a moment.  It's just going to happen.

2.  Perspective.  I think it's really important that we put these things into perspective.  What's the point of what we do?  To lead people into the presence of Jesus.  If having the music can make you feel more relaxed knowing you do have that safety net, that's great!  You're more likely to engage people when you're comfortable.  The point is to worship.

If you're on the fence on whether to ditch music stands, you're not alone.  We stepped away from music stands a couple of years ago, but not completely.  For a long time, we would print off chord charts and make folders for each band position for the songs for that week.  One reason that we moved away from that was just the amount of work involved each Monday or Tuesday.  The other reason, you guessed it, visual.  There's no way around it, music stands are ugly.  Upon doing some research, we discovered something called OnSong.  OnSong is an iPad app that takes chord charts and puts them in an easy to read format that you can follow along with.  We even have ours set to auto-scroll so there's no pesky page turning between songs or the worry of losing our place.  They have a low light setting so there's never a worry of being able to see.  One of my favorite parts is that since it's ran on an iPad, you don't have the sheer bulk of a traditional music stand.  For us, this is the best of both worlds and our team really embraced it.  If you would like to know more about it, check out http://www.onsongapp.com/.

Peace,

Justin

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Grant Norsworthy

I'm really looking forward to this upcoming weekend. MPBC will be hosting Grant Norsworthy (speaker, musician, Australian-now based out of Nashville, TN), who will be leading a workshop for our worship team on Saturday and then speaking and leading the team on Sunday during our services.  Grant is a Dove Award Winning and Grammy Nominated musician who now has his own ministry, "More Than Music Mentor", in which he travels around the country helping churches and worship teams and also provides free resources through his website:  www.morethanmusicmentor.com.

I first met Grant about 4 years ago at a conference in Florida.  I was there for a Songwriting Workshop and he was my group leader.  He was easy to work with and really had a lot of good information and insight into songwriting.  I ran into him again last summer at another conference and took one of the classes he was teaching.  Once again I was impressed with his knowledge of worship and ideas and ways for improving how a worship team and a worship ministry functions.

After this second encounter with him, I started thinking about how he could help our team and ministry here at MPBC.  And so, we're bringing him in.

But, he's not just here for the worship team or worship ministry.  On Sunday, he'll be speaking to the entire church at all 3 morning services.  Here's a quote from his website that I think clearly sums up what you'll get to experience this Sunday as he shares:  

"Through an engaging blend of illustrations, storytelling, solid Bible teaching and songs, Grant Norsworthy possesses a rare ability to reshape sometimes-overwhelming concepts into deep-yet-simple thoughts that propel listeners to realization and action."

So, I hope that you'll make plans to be here.  I promise that you'll enjoy it and get something out of it.  

Worship Big!

Brad 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Create in Me a Heart of Genuine Worship

Worship…that word means different things to different people.

Ole Mr. Webster says that “Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”.
And yes, I would agree worship can be an outward expression of our love for the Father. It should come to that! But the question lies…What do you personally consider worship?

I remember as a child watching a lady in our church raise her hands every time a certain song was played and she would just bawl. At that time, I was afraid of her (I was 4) she was different. (Granted she pinched my cheeks every time I got close, which could have been the reason for my fear). But it was an odd thing for me to see for some reason. In an entire church of “Christians” there was this one lady who would go all kinds of crazy at random moments. The truth I would grow to understand….she had a heart and desire to experience God in her own way, with no worries of another thinking she was insane. The rest of us could have used a bit of that reverence and accountability. 

Over the past few months, I have been experiencing a “shift” in my walk with the Father. And in a wonderful way. It’s no secret that I deal with medical issues and a new diagnosis caught me off guard. But in it all I felt peace, His presence, and I had overwhelming Joy! God was allowing me to have another opportunity to Praise and Worship Him through another struggle. You see, the struggle is only a tiny portion of the story (His Story). He ordained my days and allowed this not for my destruction but for His glory. I knew I was to make sure that he received what I was called to give. 

Sometimes, I think we as Christians ignore our calling.  While everyone has a different plan, we have the same purpose. We are called to serve, share, and glorify God for who He is.
While facing another little giant in my life I began to feel more conviction regarding what I allowed or ignored. When I truly sought Him, He gave me the clarity to see Him. (Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you-James 4:8).

I would get what I call “spirit checks” (discernment) more often in situations I might not have seen before. I began to funnel my actions/words more carefully knowing that I had failed miserably to do so lately. I asked God to provide me with a genuine heart of worship. 

It didn’t come immediately. I had to allow the hardened build up to be broken away. Feelings of resentment, frustration, and plain anger had seeped into the cracks and filled the void where my praise should have been. It is so easy to allow this to happen. It’s a very slow fade! 

As a member of our praise team I am fully aware that how I worship can affect those around me and I wanted to ensure I was genuine and not just being routine. Its sometimes easy to focus on the physical v/s the spiritual when you sing. In my case, sometimes my injuries make themselves known or the technical aspects of performing can be pushed in the forefront of my mind. To ensure that I didn’t allow the “stuff” to cloud my view of The Father, I begin my time in prayer. From the time I arrive, to the moment we step off the stage for the day, I am in constant conversation w/the Father. 

I don’t share this to say, “Look at me and what a good Christian I am”. I share this because I am a broken child of the King who needs correction on a daily basis!

I drag the weekly junk into church wit me on Sunday morning just like everyone else! We are all hit with difficulties (work, finances, health, and other people). It tears us down and we bring what’s left of us to church. In my case that’s not a lot left to give! 

I understood that my personal temperament (one who is a straight shooter/calls it like she sees it) would need to have a clean slate before I stood and sang. I would need to ensure that my focus wasn’t on the ones around me, the music, the struggles or even the people in front of me. That it was on the ONE who blessed me with the ability to sing. So…I pray. I pray that God would remove any ounce of “self” I have left in me, that he would remove my focus on the physical struggles and point me to Him. Since I began to do this I have experienced Him in a way I can’t describe. Worship became more personal than ever before and it was genuine and ALL for Him. 

You may not always see my hands being raised (sometimes physically its difficult).  While that is our typical expectation of outward praise, our inward approach to worship matters the most! When my heart is truly on the One who created me to serve, worship is being given! When your heart is completely engulfed in His presence something begins to change. Your outward expressions clearly show your intent. You begin to stand alone in His presence (no matter how many others are around).

You can worship in your mundane moments, your ugly moments and those of despair. Your heart can be healed in the most difficult of situations. You were bought for a price and are priceless in his sight! How awesome to know that we have such worth!

If you are finding yourself dragging the “junk” of the week/world around with you and feel that despair is the only form of emotion you can bring to the surface take heart in knowing that God is already fighting your battles. He’s already ahead of your situation.  He’s aware and in control. 
Casting Crowns perform a song called “Oh my Soul”. Its lyrics speak so clearly when times seem rough and worship seems impossible…


Oh, my soul
Oh, how you worry
Oh, how you're weary, from fearing you lost control
This was the one thing, you didn't see coming
And no one would blame you, though
If you cried in private
If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows
No one will see, if you stop believing

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There's a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
'Cause you're not alone

Here and now
You can be honest
I won't try to promise that someday it all works out
'Cause this is the valley
And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones
And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone
This much I know

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There's a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down

I'm not strong enough, I can't take anymore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
And my shipwrecked faith will never get me to shore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
Can He find me here
Can He keep me from going under

My sweet brother’s and sister’s in Christ. If you take anything away from today’s blog know that You are not alone. You are loved and created for a purpose. One that requires genuine and personal worship. Take today's struggle and give Him the glory! I will be right alongside of you doing the same.

Jessica

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Let It Be...

Have you ever just stopped everything you were doing to sit in awe of God? Just think: the God whose hands keep the planets from smashing together wants to hold our hand every day... wow.

I know many of you know the verse Psalm 46:10, "be still and know...". Well I like the beginning of that verse even better. In the AMPC version, it says "Let be and be still..."

So many times it is easy to "give" something to God, but we are still holding on to it. I know I've found myself doing that a lot lately. It is so hard to completely walk away, but sometimes that is what God is telling us to do.

I know, I get it. I've been clinging to my struggles for a while. But the moment I was finally able to say "God, I'm letting this be. I'm not only being still and waiting for You, but I'm letting this be." That was when I was able to truly open my heart to worship. When we hang on to these things it clouds our minds and the devil is allowed to steal our heart of worship. But when we let be... God can show us amazing things!

I encourage each of you to just let be! Be still and make yourself available to God. I promise He never disappoints!

~Blessings,

Savannah