By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
FRIENDSVILLE, Md.—Rush Baptist Church draws about 25 to 30 people from a rural farmland area each Sunday. That’s actually a huge increase from about eight people last year when they were ready to close their doors. The small group has been very active, and they’re helping to plant a church in Morgantown, W. Va.
When asked about how rural the area is, Pastor John Wyrick, who began pastoring the church last year, laughs and says, “You are surrounded by farms, rivers and lakes…there are more Big Foot sightings in the area than in the whole country.”
Wyrick leads a three-piece Christian Southern rock band, named after him. They play in the community and at fairs and festivals. The church has rallied around the band, using it as an opportunity to do ministry. They plan to expand those ministries to campouts and outdoor services.
When the band began playing outside the courthouse in Morgantown, church members began distributing food and bottled water. Enough people responded that a new church is being birthed. Rush members are working with another ministry called “The Living Room,” to plant a church in the inner city of Morgantown.
Wyrick likes the name. “It started in a living room, and it’s full of life,” he said.
Wyrick said someone recently asked him what is the church’s growth plan, and he quipped that he had a two-step plan guaranteed to work: preach the gospel and love everyone.
“It sounds so simple, but really, simplicity works,” he said.
Wyrick has pastored in Hattiesburg, Miss., North Carolina and Pennsylvania in addition to traveling throughout the country as a musical evangelist. He settled in Pennsylvania. It served as a good home base while he travelled the East Coast.
Wyrick said God truly orchestrated bringing him to pastor Rush. The band was playing at a church in Friendsville. A member of Rush Baptist heard the band and passed the information on to the leaders at Rush. The date Rush wanted Wyrick to play was booked, but immediately before Rush leaders called, someone had cancelled the previous gig, leaving Wyrick free to play at Rush. Wyrick said he recalls the day he shared at Rush because it was Dec. 4, 2011, his 47th birthday.
“I joke about the Lord setting it up and giving me Rush as my birthday gift,” Wyrick said.
He preached about Zacchaeus, and a little girl responded to the invitation and gave her life to Jesus.
The church began to grow.
“Fifteen to twenty people doesn’t seem like a lot to larger churches, but we’re really pleased with what the Lord is doing here,” he said.
Wyrick came to know the Lord on March 30, 1980 through Youth For Christ. He was 15 years old and already an accomplished musician.
“For me it was a major event. I had grown up playing music and by that age I was in a regionally successful rock band,” he said.
God changed Wyrick’s heart and his desires.
“I was called into ministry right away,” he said. Wyrick began sharing his testimony at church services and youth groups.
“It was pretty neat for me because I had been pretty well known through my music. Pastors liked me because they thought of me as a teenage kid snatched from the pit of hell. We were hanging with some pretty big names, especially in Southern rock.”
Wyrick literally went from hanging out with the Allman Brothers to singing in church.
Wyrick and his wife, Rebecca, have three children. They are originally from Florida.
“It’s kind of funny to be talking about some of the things we’re doing: being creative and innovative. What we’re doing is looking at our surroundings and resources and using what we have.
“Maybe that’s the biggest innovation of all. Instead of doing what we’re not capable of doing, we’re staying within our element.”
Check out the John Wyrick Band on YouTube. To book the band or learn more, email Wyrick at email@example.com.