Worship arts pastor talks faith, family and music

Sunday, April 22, 2012
Brad Miles is the new worship arts pastor at LaCroix Church in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Worship Arts Pastor Brad Miles knew from an early age that he wanted to work in ministry, having given his first sermon at the age of 10. After college, however, Miles pursued a career as a singer/songwriter and moved to Nashville, landing a record deal and traveling the country playing 50 to 60 shows a year. Today, he leads the worship team at La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau.

Q: Being new to Cape Girardeau, tell us a little bit about yourself and family. When did you start at La Croix?

A: I have been married to my wife, Amy, for 16 years. We have two beautiful daughters (they look like their mom), 11 and 3. We are from Texas. Amy and I both grew up there. I am a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. I'm a little obnoxious about that, honestly. And I'm a big Texas Rangers fan, so Game Six of the World Series this year was unequivocally the lowest moment I have ever experienced as a sports fan. Thanks for that, Cardinal Nation. I started at La Croix on Jan. 1, but I have a relationship with La Croix that goes back four years or so. We were really blessed to have a lot of good friends in the church before we ever came here.

Q: How long have you been a member of your faith?

A: It's a little strange actually. I grew up Southern Baptist, went to a Baptist college, and I am about to graduate from a Baptist seminary. Most of my years in the ministry, however, have been in Methodist churches. I served at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Okla. before coming here. I committed my life to Christ when I was 6 years old, and I actually felt a call to ministry that same year. I preached my first sermon in church when I was 10 years old, and I have been actively pursuing ministry in some form or fashion for most of my life.

Q: What drew you to serve in a leadership role, particularly in music?

A: I kind of backed into it actually. I always thought I was going to be a pastor, but I sang and wrote songs as well. When I was in college, I hung around with other guys who liked to play music and, before I really knew what was happening, I was in a band and we were playing 50 to 60 shows a year. That led, eventually, to a move to Nashville and a record deal. I spent a couple of years traveling all over the country playing concerts, but I really missed my family and I missed ministry. I missed living life with a community of people and working through what it means to follow Christ together. You get kind of disconnected on the road, so I knew that a return to full-time ministry was what I wanted. My experience as a singer/songwriter kind of led me naturally to ministering through music.

Q: As the worship leader at La Croix, how do you view your role in the church?

A: My job is to pastor a creative team of people to be more like Christ and help them direct their energy into worshipping God. I work with a team of people to plan and design worship experiences, and I work to empower people in our church to utilize their God-given creative ability, to refine those artistic gifts. I also get to find ways to connect with the arts community in Cape. My hope is that La Croix will become a place that is known for its support of the arts and the arts community.

Q: How do you coordinate all the various talents of the music ministry participants' for weekend services?

A: I have a fantastic team of people who help me with this, and I have an amazing group of volunteers that are committed, responsible and faithful so that this part of my job is not nearly as stressful as you might imagine.

Q: What things do you do during the week to prepare for weekend services?

A: I pray a lot. I spend a lot of time just trying to lean into relationship with God. Worship flows directly out of our relationship with God. It is an expression of our submission to and intimacy with God. I cannot expect to lead other people into intimacy with God unless my life is characterized by intimacy with God. So, the most important preparation is the time I spend loving and listening to God.

Q: What would you deem as the greatest challenge that you have faced either in your current role or in past ministry roles?

A: Man, this is a pretty intense question, and I'm going to answer it honestly, maybe painfully honestly. For a lot of reasons, I have always wanted to be the person who rescues other people. This is a real area of brokenness for me. I need for people to think of me as the one who helps them, as the one who has answers or comfort for them when they are down or hurting. The honest truth is that this impulse, though, is often more about meeting a sick need within me than it is about helping someone else. I often get my identity from how other people view me. I think this is something that a lot of ministers struggle with. We have a "savior complex," and we end up trying to make ourselves something we were never meant to be in other people's lives. I have had to learn that Jesus Christ is the savior and I am his servant. I have been forced to examine my heart, and deal with the fact that I have, at times in ministry, pointed people to myself instead of to God. I have had to struggle through the realization that my identity was grounded in other people's opinion of me, instead of in God's relentless love for me. This whole process has definitely been my biggest challenge as a minister.

Q: What's your favorite Bible verse and why?

A: It really depends on which one I'm digging into in the moment. My friends laugh at me because I'm always saying, "This is my favorite passage in the Bible," and it seems like it's a new passage every week. One of the passages that has been a consistent favorite though is Ephesians 3:14-21. "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen."

I love this passage because it talks about the vastness of God's love for us. Paul is praying that the Ephesians would know the incredible dimensions of God's love. He prays that they would not only grasp the dimensions of God's love but that they would know it personally. I love that. I want to be on that journey, to personally know and experience the width, length, height and depth of the love of God. I also want to invite others into that journey with me.

Q: What events or occasions does your organization have coming up?

A: We're currently in a sermon series called "Pulse" where we are talking about the aspects of healthy relationships. So many of us are experiencing hurt in our lives because of relationships that are broken. I would invite anyone who is feeling like that to join us this weekend. Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9 or 11 a.m.

Q: What's the greatest joy you've experienced in the ministry?

A: The greatest joy in my life is my beautiful family. When I think of great joy, I remember the day that I held my oldest daughter in my arms for the first time. My heart was so full of joy and love in that moment that I honestly felt like I might explode. God has been so good to me. I am married to an amazing woman. We have two incredible daughters. The fact that I get to be on this journey with them, that we are doing life together as a family is the greatest joy in my life. Whatever I may accomplish in my lifetime in ministry, I am most grateful for the opportunity I have to share Christ with my family. I mean that word share in the literal sense. It's not just me imparting my ministerial wisdom to my wife and kids. They have already taught me more about the love of God than I could ever hope to teach them. I am so thankful that God has given us to one another, and I am excited about what God is doing in and through us as a family.

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