Preparing Your Children’s Hearts for Worship

Written by: Pastor Garrett Oppel and Pastor Brian Howerton


It’s important that we go to church with expectancy and prepared hearts. The question is, how do we do that for us and our children? It is our prayer that you will be intentional to try one or more of these tips and see your family benefit greatly from it.


  • Pray together

Even if it’s just a short prayer after everyone is buckled up in the vehicle. Make prayer a priority. Let prayer set the tone for the rest of your day. Start your day off united together in prayer. Maybe you’re in a rush and running late. Don’t let that get in the way. You can still have a family prayer time while you are driving. Obviously, this would be a prayer where you, the driver, keep your eyes open 😉


  • Listen to worship music

There is a Spotify list called “mpbclife” and the worship set for every week is uploaded. Simply click on the worship service you will attend and listen to the songs together. This will help your kids get familiar with the songs and know them better for when they hear them in church. We recommend doing this at various times throughout the week, as well.

**BONUS Tip:Speaking of worship, we highly encourage you to have your kids stand during worship. In Tabernacle, we do not let them sit down. They don’t have to sing or do the motions, but they are required to stand. I believe this is the very least we can do for the One who gave His all on the cross for us. I could keep going on and on about this, but I’ll leave it at this.


  • Talk about worship

Worship is not just a time of singing songs; worship is a lifestyle. Talk about the many different ways we worship (time, talents, songs, tithe, attitude, etc.). If your kids get an allowance, teach them the importance of tithing. It’s important that they learn that at an early age. Tell them what is expected during worship time. Set the example for what it looks like to worship. While we believe corporate worship is very important, private worship is even more important. Allow your children to see you having quiet time with God. Model what that looks like. Back up your words with action.

**Worship Suggestion:Check out Seeds Family Worship and JumpStart3


  • Talk about their Bible lesson for the day

In my weekly email, it tells you what your kids will be learning the following week. Try reading through that passage together on Saturday night, or just talk about it briefly. Doing a review of what they learned last week would also be beneficial, especially since we are going through the Bible chronologically. Along with that, make sure you read my weekly email about your kids learned in church. They need you to reinforce what they’re learning so that it will stick with them better.

40 Days of Prayer for Missions

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 NKJV

The summer months are full of new opportunities to meet people where they are and point them to Jesus. We have set aside 40 days over June, July and August this year to pray with focus and purpose daily for needs related to four missions opportunities.

Download the attached day-by-day prayer guide as an image or printable PDF to join us in prayer pray for MPBC Missions going on in our community (Vacation Bible School and Preteen H2O Retreat), nation/continent (working with Église du Mont-Bellevue in Sherbrooke, Quebec and serving the Navajo people and community in Gallup, New Mexico) and world (King’s Children Orphanage in Belize).

Click Here to Download PDF

40 Days of Prayer for Missions

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 NKJV

The summer months are full of new opportunities to meet people where they are and point them to Jesus. We have set aside 40 days over June, July and August this year to pray with focus and purpose daily for needs related to three missions opportunities.

Download the attached day-by-day prayer guide as an image or printable PDF to join us in prayer pray for MPBC Missions going on in our community (Vacation Bible School), nation/continent (camp at Chanku Waste on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota; and working with Église du Mont-Bellevue
in Sherbrooke, Quebec) and world (King’s Children Orphanage in Belize).

Click Here to Download PDF

Leading Your Family Into a Life of Integrity

Garrett Oppel • Children’s Pastor

I’m sorry for the long post, but the Lord has laid this on my heart and I couldn’t stop thinking about this until I wrote it all down. As you know, your family is your #1 ministry—your top priority. It is vitally important that you set a godly example for your children, and demonstrate for them what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus. I came across a Psalm in my Bible reading and I wanted to share it with you. I hope you take the time to read it and reflect on it.

Psalm 101

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
and free the city of the Lord from their grip.

The best thing you can do for your family is have a growing relationship with Jesus. As you fall more in love with Him, the better you will be able to lead your family. The world we live in is an evil one. Temptation is everywhere. Satan is seeking to destroy families. It is not uncommon anymore to see Christian marriages fall apart. What our kids need more than anything is not an active sports life, plenty of toys to keep them entertained, or the latest gaming system. They need you! They need parents who have a strong marriage. Parents who intentionally make time to date each other. Time away from the kids and keep the fire burning. You don’t take time away from the kids because you don’t love them; you do it because you DO love them! You need that one-on-one time with your spouse.

As verse two says, we need to live a life of integrity at home. Set the example for your children. Let them see you on your knees praying out to the Lord. Let them see you opening your Bible every day and depending on it daily. Take the steps necessary to make sure you don’t let your eyes look at anything vulgar. Get an accountability partner. Install Covenant Eyes on all of your devices. Pray to God that He will help you to stay away from evil.

On top of that, surround your children with godly influences. Yes, you are to be their main disciple-maker, but they also need other godly people in their lives that can point them to Jesus. Be careful with whom you allow your children’s main influencers to be. Let it be someone who is deeply in love with Jesus and you know will help and encourage them in their walk with God and reinforce what you are teaching at home. Keep an eye on what your kids are watching on TV. Even Disney Channel is not always safe, because a show called Andi Mack just introduced the first gay kid on a Disney show. Be careful of apps and to whom your children are talking to online. Recent research shows that 50% of 10 year olds have been exposed to pornographic material. Most of those cases were by accident (app pop-up, internet pop-up, TV commercial, billboard, YouTube, etc.). The YouTube kids’ app is much safer. Don’t let culture dictate what is acceptable and good, but teach your kids to always turn to the Scriptures.

If you ever have questions about TV shows or appropriate apps for kids, feel free to reach out to me. I keep up with kids’ TV shows, so I know what is out there, can better relate to the kids, and can see if any red flags pop-up like with Andi Mack. Please let me know if there is any specific way I can be praying for you and your family. I want to be your personal prayer warrior for your family. I love each of your families so much, and want to encourage and equip you, the parent, to be the best you can be for your kids. God bless, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family’s life!

31 Days of Prayer for Missions

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 NKJV

The summer months are full of new opportunities to meet people where they are and point them to Jesus. We have set aside the month of July this year to pray with focus and purpose daily for needs related to three missions opportunities.

Download the attached day-by-day prayer guide as an image or printable PDF to join us in prayer pray for MPBC Missions going on in our community (Vacation Bible School), nation (camp at Chanku Waste on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota) and world (King’s Children Orphanage in Belize).

Click Here to Download PDF

5 Reasons To Keep Dating Your Kids

Monday night, I took our dog to a vet in Farmville, VA. Farmville is about a 75-minute drive from our house. The evening before I asked our 5-year-old daughter (Amelia) if she wanted to go with me and have a date after we dropped Annie off. Since Amelia was 2, we have periodically gone on dates. Any time I ask if she wants to go on dates, she, with much excitement shouts, “YES DADDY!” I realize at some point that excitement will probably change, so I’m going to take full advantage of it now.


As parents, it’s so important to take one-on-one time with each of them as they grow up. Most parents have 18 years to disciple their child before they are thrown into the world. Take advantage of every opportunity to spend with each child. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Here are 5 reasons I believe dating your kids should continue until they get married:


  1. We’re called to shepherd their heart. Proverbs 22:6 is not a suggestion, but a calling as parents. I pray daily that my kids would be trained in such a way that when they leave my house they reflect the glory of God. It starts with me shepherding and leading them to the cross. We even see a specific responsibility for fathers to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Part of shepherding their heart is giving them time alone to give them instruction.
  2. Give your kids freedom to talk about life. My kids are 5, 3, and 1 so my conversations with them are different than that of teenage parents. My desire is to begin now cultivating a space for my daughters (and son) to feel comfortable talking to me about what’s going on in life. My wife and I are in this together, so as both of us “date” our kids, we’re giving them space to open up about their feelings. This is healthy and biblical as we desire to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). If we build the trust now, hopefully it’s easier during the teenage years.
  3. Model who your kids should date. My marriage isn’t perfect, but I want to set an example and expectation for what my daughters are looking for in the guy they’re going to marry. I want to hold doors for them as we go into restaurants and pay for dinner (duh!). I want to hear what they’re learning about the Lord and treat their soul with much care and compassion. And the same way with my son, I want Liam to look for a wife who is God-fearing just like his mother and is beautiful from the inside out. This is part of wanting your kids to grow up and live the words of the Apostle Paul “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ. Jesus.”
  4. We’re the discipleship program for our kids. The Children’s Pastor and/or Student Pastor are not the main people called to disciple your kids. As Christian parents, we’re called to teach our kids the Lord’s commands: “teach them diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 6:7). If we’re serious about the discipleship process of our kids it starts together as a family, but it also has to be personal with each child. If we’re not going to disciple and train our children, the world will. Dating your children gives you an opportunity to more intentionally disciple each kid as you shepherd their heart (as mentioned above).
  5. It gives both of you memories that will last a lifetime. Practically speaking, I want my kids to feel like they have a daddy who loves them and has cherished his time with them. I remember the first official date I took Amelia on; we went to Chili’s when they were having a father/daughter night. It’s hard for me to even think that was over 3 years ago. Time flies by, and that day I walk my daughters down the isle, I want to be thinking back over the memories we have created and thanking God from whom all blessings flow.


You may have kids that are preschool age, teenagers, or even college students. No matter the age of your kids, please consider dating them until they get married. God will give you opportunities to take your relationship with them deeper, and will give you an opportunity to hear what they’re dealing with in their spiritual journey. Keep (or start) dating your kids.


For His Glory,


Pastor Joe

Dating the church vs. Married to the church: The struggle is real for young people


We live in a unique time in the United States, a time where church commitment is falling rapidly generation-by-generation. I was even told by my pastor that he was reading a newspaper article this past week that explained that this is the first time in American history that the predominant affiliation of religion in the United States is “none.” You heard that correctly: none. Generation X and Millennials continue to spiral downward in their faith in Jesus Christ. I believe a big part of this is because we, the Church, are so involved in everything else that church is a mere afterthought. The question I offer to you today is, “Are you married to the church or are you just merely dating?”


It’s our goal at Mount Pleasant to develop young people who, as they go into college or the work place, will have the DNA to be committed to the local church. The idea of dating the church often starts in college and then leads into their marriages and families years later.


Dating the church can be demonstrated in a few different ways. First, a person who dates the church may switch from one church to another, never satisfied or committed to any particular church. These individuals really are not members of any church; they like to move around when something does not go their way.


This is neither healthy nor biblical.


Part of the description we have in Ephesians 5 is of the relationship between husband and wife, giving us the example of the relationship of Christ and the Church. In thinking of our commitment to the local church, think of Ephesians 5:25-27:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”


When we understand that this letter is written to the local church, while using the Church as a metaphor to explain the relationship of a husband and wife, we better realize why our commitment to one local church is so important.


Individuals who are always moving around from one church to another are treating their relationship with the church as a dating relationship. Why does this often start with college-age students? If a college student goes away for college, they often either use a parachurch organization as their local church or stop attending church altogether. There are some really great campus ministries on college campuses, but they are not a replacement for the local church. Although we want our college students to be involved in these ministries, we believe it more important they find a local church they can be married to while they’re at college. By not being committed to a local church – even while away at college – you are cheating yourself, and cheating this world.


Another way people date the church is by being a member of a church, but not really being committed to that church. That may sound like an oxymoron, but it is ever so true. How can we gauge commitment? Think of the first Sunday it’s cold outside, or when we may have lost an hour of sleep, or maybe when we’re up late watching the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Then we think we’ll just take a day off from church this Sunday morning. That day off becomes multiple days off throughout the year. A recent report by the Barna Group said the average church member misses twelve Sundays a year. That’s missing once a month, which comes up to about 3 months every year, which is only 75% attendance. I believe God expects better from us.


When we look at Ephesians 5:28-30 we read:

“So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”


If you are physically able to be with the body of Christ, but you only choose to be there 75% of the time, does that truly show you’re helping “nourish and cherish” it? Please do not get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a legalistic Pharisee, but rather seeking for us to have a clearer picture of what the relationship should be between Christ and His bride. Men, if we had a bride whose commitment to us was the same commitment we had to the local church, would we be satisfied? If not, let’s lead our families to be married to the church and not just dating the church.


My challenge to everyone is to be married to a local church. It shouldn’t matter if you’re in college, head of a young family, or a senior adult: do not treat your church commitment like a dating relationship. In a dating relationship, you’re not completely in covenant with another individual like you are within a marriage covenant. The relationship between you and the local church should be a covenant. As God’s chosen people, we must remember that we are the bride of Christ (Revelation 12:9-10). The church needs your commitment and you need the commitment of the church. Find a church that loves you and is committed to your growth in godliness. If you’re in college and away from your local church, do not use that as an excuse to date the church and be married to a ministry! Find a church that will show the importance of what it means to be the bride of Christ.


Many of my thoughts on this conversation have been formulated by seeing how much of the New Testament is written to the local church. Joshua Harris does a fantastic job of speaking to this conversation in a book called Stop Dating the Church. Let me leave you with what Joshua Harris says there: “The greatest motivation we could ever find for being passionate committed to the Church is that Jesus is passionately committed to the Church (31).”



May God bless you this week as you are committed to the Lord and His Church.



The preceding are my sermon notes from my May 6, 2012 sermon at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, entitled Stop Dating The Church. Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).


Pastor Joe Mayes



Other great resources on this topic are:

Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harirs

Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman

The Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever

What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile

I Am A Church Member by Thom Rainer

LifeGroups – Experiencing God through Life Together

by Robbie Riggs, MPBC LifeGroup Director


Life Group Interest Meeting

tree-684764_1920.jpg There will be a full-church Life Group meeting on Wednesday, August 31 at 7 pm.
Whether you’re in a Life Group, want to be in a Life Group, or just want to learn more about what a Life Group is, this is an important meeting to attend.

Childcare will be available

What is a Life Group?

MPBC Life Groups are designed to be small groups out in our communities where discipleship and evangelism occur. We believe that evangelism and discipleship are most effective when they are interwoven into personal relationships. Life Groups provide the environment where these types of relationships are fostered. They are monthly gatherings that meet in individual’s homes. In the context of Life Groups, people come to know God more fully and to experience his presence in their lives through Christian community and fellowship. People are nurtured, equipped, and released to be used by God to accomplish the work he has called them to. These multi-generational groups provide an opportunity for intimacy, mutual sharing and support, practical love and service, spiritual growth, greater devotion to God and others, prayer, and to see real examples of how God is working in our midst. They are led by pastors or trained leaders from the congregation that are given on-going support.


What is the purpose of Life Groups?

The primary goal for the Life Group meeting is to experience the presence and power of King Jesus in the lives of believers. We want him to be at work ministering to us and through us, to the end that people are cared for and encouraged to lead lives that are pleasing to God. We desire to see the transformational power of Christ at work in our lives as individuals, and as a community of believers, and through us, in the secular communities of which we are also a part (neighborhoods, workplaces, etc.). We are told in scripture to encourage and build up one another, to serve one another, to rejoice and weep with one another, to correct and instruct one another, to love and accept one another, and to worship God with one another. Life Groups are a wonderful way to fulfill these commands. These groups also serve as a great way to integrate new members and new believers into their new church family. They are a place where spiritual gifts are discovered and utilized for the benefit of the group itself, of the congregation as a whole, and of the world around us. In addition, they serve as a place where we can remind one another of our call to share the gospel and pray for those with whom we are sharing the good news that God has reconciled himself to us through Jesus Christ.


Why PPM? Why Belize? Why Kings Children’s Home?

Just last week, I spent the week serving an orphanage alongside of 16 others (including our missionaries) in Belize. It truly was a life-changing trip. We worked with and through an organization called Praying Pelican Missions (PPM) based out of Minneapolis, MN. Over the years I have been on about 18 different mission trips in many different states, and 6 different countries. I’ve worked with many different mission organizations, most of which have been fantastic. With that said, I’m thankful to the Lord for the leadership and work of PPM. PPM is less than 15 years old and was started in just two communities in the country of Belize. They’re vision is to “further the kingdom of God and our Lord Jesus Christ by providing missions experiences for people with a heart to serve others for His glory.” Click here for more information about PPM and their history. The reason I will continue to use PPM is because they live out to their vision; it’s not just meaningless words. I’m thankful we have interdenominational mission agencies that take the stance that PPM does, because it helps bring the church together. We see this in Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” Another main reason that PPM will continue to get our support is because they have done the best at partnering our church with the ministries and people where we are serving. The people who have coordinated our trips, Andy Bost (who was also one of our missionaries in 2014) and Nicole Seymour helped connect us with great people and those people with great churches. Their organizational and communicational skills were/are superb, but PPM’s ability to partner groups with churches, pastors, missionaries, and organizations oversees is what it’s all about. It’s not just a weeklong trip, but it’s a partnership together for the glory of God.


PPM has helped me fall in love with the country of Belize. I did not know until recently that PPM began their ministry in Belize, but I can see why. Why is Belize a target for missions for me (and others at Mount Pleasant)? First, Belize is a target because of the people. Yes, Belize is highly Roman Catholic and Protestant, but there are still a lot of people in Belize who need the Lord. The people in Belize are welcoming, warm, and somewhat eager to hear the gospel. Secondly, most people think of Belize as a vacation spot where cruises go (Caye Caulker), but a lot of the country is extremely poor. Minimum wage is less than $2/hour, and that’s for those who have jobs. Going through the villages, talking with the impoverished families cannot help but burn in your heart that they must hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, we have partnered with some of the best people, pastors, and churches in Belize. This year we had the blessing of serving alongside Herman and Marion Blease, missionaries that PPM provided for us. Herman and Marion serve at a Nazarene church in Belize and their heart for the lost, leading in worship, and leading in Student Ministry is simply amazing. All of us feel we have built a lifelong friendship and partnership in the gospel. We know the work is never done in Belize, but we also know with Herman and Marion are continuing the Lord’s work daily. We have also been able to work alongside of Belmopan Baptist Church and Roaring Creek Nazarene Church seeing pastors from both churches who are well connected in their community and love to meet people where they are and point them to Jesus. Between Herman and Marion, Jeniecia (Belize missionary in 2014), and the pastors and churches we have partnered with, Americans can learn a lot from the believers serving in Belize.


Both trips to Belize we have worked with Kings Children’s Home. Why? First we see in James 1:27 the direct command “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the father is this: ‘to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world’.” Working in an orphanage, building relationships with kids who do not have active parents is not easy work. With that said, there is nothing more rewarding than the moment these kids start to open up about their lives, stories, and testimonies that they’ve been through. I remember the last day sitting a table with one of team members (Monica), when a boy probably around 10 years old started opening up about how his mom left him in a hotel because she was a drunk and drug addict. These kids need to know there is hope found not in their circumstances, but rather in our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, we choose Kings Children’s Home because of its leadership. Mama Leonie was the founder of Kings and continues to lead it. Sitting down and spending 30 minutes talking with Mama Leonie you can hear her heart for the Lord and every kid in the home. She has a heart of gold. Not only that, her leadership and love towards the kids helps me to understand how I can lead and love my own children better. When Mama speaks, the kids listen. The kids love and respect Mama Leonie, which she has earned. Why Kings Children’s Home? Lastly, because I believe we’re not done yet. The Lord has pressed it on my heart and many (if not all) of the rest our team that our work isn’t done. We desire to continue to build a partnership with Kings Children’s Home and Mama Leonie moving forward. It’s one thing to go and spend a week at the home, but it’s another thing to partner with them moving forward. We don’t want to be a group that comes in and leaves and it was just a weeklong trip. We are unsure what that partnership looks like in the future, but we desire for lasting impacts for the kids in the orphanage along with each team member that participates with us.


There is so much more that could be said about Praying Pelican Missions, the country of Belize, and Kings Children’s Home. A part of my heart will always be there, now it’s time for me to pray how me being here in the states can help impact those back at Kings until I go back.


Kings Children’s Home Facebook Page Link

Trip Journal


God Bless,


Pastor Joe

“No Kids at Church” a poem by Dr. Joey Anthony


13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.
Mark 10:13-16 NKJV

No Kids At Church

If there were no kids in the church
What joy it would be
How things would be different
A different church we would see

No more scuffs on the floor
No more marks on the wall
No more silly games
No more worrying about ball

No more noisy hallways
No more wiggling in the pew
No more “tabernacle”
No more doing things that are new

No more cups on the counters
No more food on the floor
No more kids’ activities
No more money for those kids anymore

But with no kids at church
It will not be all that great
For with no kids at church
We will have a terrible fate.

There would be little excitement
Very little life in the pew
There would be no enthusiasm
For the things that we do.

Yes, It would be a quiet church
More like a cemetery instead
Because, the truth about this church
Is that it soon would be dead!

Children are a blessing
A heritage from the Lord
So let us not wish for less children
Let us pray for more!

They need to know about Jesus
We must invest in their lives, too
For we must love all the children
For the Lord has told us what to do

“Forbid them not,” saith the Lord,
“And let them come unto Me.”
So let us be faithful to His call
And show and tell them of the Lord’s mercy

May it always be said of us at the Mount
That we love the Lord Jesus with all our heart,
Our goal is to obey and to please Him,
And for the children, we are striving to do our part.

Dr. Joey Anthony shared his poem in Sunday services on Father’s Day, June 19, 2016 as part of his sermon “The Kingdom Family” in the “King Jesus” sermon series.

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