For the last 13 years I've been attending Northside Baptist Church in McMinnville TN and when I think about this church and the people I've gotten to know over the years, it's with great sorrow that the time has come for me to say goodbye. My last Sunday at Northside will be September 28th, 2008. I'm not leaving on bad terms, but good ones! I'm not leaving because I want to but since I'm living an hour away, it's best I find a local church within the community I now live in. It's difficult to meet and make new friends outside of a loving church sometimes, so we welcome the opportunity to visit other churches within the area we now live. Saying all that... I will miss Northside.
My Pastor is a wonderful loving and caring man. Three years ago we were blessed at Northside Baptist Church as Tim Miles became our Pastor and I must say I've never worked with anyone that was easier to work with than Tim. As the worship leader each Sunday it was a joy to work with Tim in the planning of our service and music. In the beginning we would meet weekly and plan the service, but as our time together became more and more difficult to schedule, we eventually just called each other and planned over the phone or he'd let me chose the music and lay out the order of worship each Sunday morning as I felt lead. When I moved to Murfreesboro TN then it became almost impossible to meet anymore so he simply trusted my judgement and allowed me to plan the order of worship and the songs each week and he only called me with special instructions for the Lord's Supper or other special services like this. I have seen other worship leaders have issues with their Pastors and this wall between them could always be seen and felt by the other members of the Church. Tim and I have never been at odds with each other and I've always known I had his full support and he's always had mine. He is the kind of Pastor that made my life of service in music a joy, and that's one of the reasons why I hung on so long before finally making the decision that it was time to move on.
There were other reasons I stayed on after moving away in February of this year... I love the people of this church. I had made a commitment to Northside Baptist and I didn't want to leave them shorthanded in the area of worship leader or music minister. I care about what happens at Northside, so I kept up the work even though I knew one day I'd have to quit. There's another reason... I love singing and I love music. I'll miss being the worship leader for Northside and I'll miss singing with them as well. We have a small Choir that has always supported me and I'll miss each of them. Peggy McMurray, and Karen Wood (pianist and organist) both have encouraged me and motivated me to be my best. You see I don't read music. Most of what I do is from ear, so I have to learn the songs by hearing them. They have always worked with me and I can not tell you how much help they have been to me over the years. I could not have done this without these two great people and their awesome talent and ability to help get me through each week. I'll miss Mike McMurray... he operates our sound system for the church and he has encouraged me and helped me with music tracks and great sound. Most of all he's always been there to help me any time I needed it. I will miss Gina Maxwell so much. She and I have been singing together and leading worship together for several years now and even before I became the worship leader, we would sing together doing special music during the morning worship services whenever we were asked. We have sung together now for so many years that I know that I will miss singing with her most of all. I thank God for Gina and her willingness to serve through music in our church. I will miss her greatly. I have to thank Jeremy for all of his help. He is so smart and he knows everything I needed to know about the technical side of worship. He's taught me so much with the computer and how to use the media for the best worship experience possible. I will miss working with Jeremy. He's such a great Youth Pastor for our church and he has a heart for serving God with his talent and abilities. All the people of the church, is what I'll miss. I have grown so much through this church. God had helped me to grow spiritually through Northside baptist Church. The many friends I've made have influenced me and encouraged me. God's allowed me to serve as a Deacon, as a Sunday School Teacher, as a choir member, as a worship team member in a band, as a Men's Ministry leader, as an AWANA leader. God's allowed me to go on mission trips to Brazil, to serve as a new Christians class teacher, and finally to serve as Worship Leader/Music Minister for our church. Northside has been such a blessing to me! Probably the single greatest thing the church has done for me however is to always support me and my family through prayer as we've gone through this most difficult time with our son's addiction and legal issues. This church has always stood by my family and supported us even in our darkest days. I have been blessed and Northside will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you all so much!
One more thought about music in church...
Our service is very blended as far as music is concerned. This did not come easy. I remember the pains of changing music in our church over the years. I'm not saying what we do now is the best, but because of circumstances and God's timing we as a church have learned that music is only a part of worship. True worship comes from our own attitudes towards God the Father, not the songs we sing. We sing the great old hymns from the hymnal and we also sing the great new contemporary praise songs that you hear on the radio today. By blending the music and using both CD tracks or live music and songs with the piano and the organ in each service, we provide music for all ages to worship with. That's what the church is about anyway, all of us, all ages, worshiping together and serving the Lord. A blended style of music in the service is a great way to always be mindful of each other in the body of Christ. Sure we may have favorite songs or styles, but that's not what's important. What's important is that we're all together... unified and focused on Jesus Christ and realizing that music is not what it's about... it's about our relationship with Jesus and our willingness to serve and obey His will in our lives. It's about our willingness to be concerned for the lost of our community and always be reaching out to them so they too can have eternal life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Think about this... The church building can be beautiful, the songs wonderful, the preaching magnificent, the programs all the best and latest thing... but if we're not telling the lost about Jesus... then all we've done is create a country club for ourselves to enjoy. Everything we do as a church has to be done with one purpose in mind... Will what we do help someone who is lost become a follower of Christ? That's the question we need to answer isn't it?
Northside Baptist church has a rich and long history made up of some wonderful people whom have come and gone through the years. For those who remain and for those yet to join this wonderful church... Northside is a place to grow spiritually if you'll allow yourself to be used by God. I challenge you, wherever you attend church. To be willing to go where God needs you. It will not be where you think most times. It will most always be outside of your comfort zone (this way you'll stay humble) but you can do anything, anything at all, that God calls you to do. It's through His strength that we can do all things! God bless you in your service, and God bless Northside Baptist!
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Your brother in Christ... Steve