I love Twitter if for nothing than the opportunity it affords me to meet awesome people doing awesome things. I remember finding Bradley a few months ago and seeing some great visual media he produced for Easter. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed following him, reading his posts on his site, bradleyhodges.com, and gaining another worship leader friend.
Bradley’s a genuine guy with a legit heart to serve the Church and other worship leaders. Cool thing about him is that he’s not just a worship leader, but also the Media Director for his church in Alabama. Worship leaders often wear hats, and I love learning from guys who wear some hats better than I do.
I know you’re going to enjoy Bradley’s responses below, so dive in and check out some great stuff.
Name || Bradley Hodges
Church & Role || Media Director/Worship Leader at First Wesleyan Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Main Instrument || Guitar/Voice
Fun Fact || My main guitar is a 3/4 size, inexpensive Taylor GS Mini. I’ve got about $600 invested in my instrument and it sounds and plays great! Who needs expensive guitars when you can get great sound and playability from others!
(All Emphasis from Chris)
1) How did you learn to/get into leading worship (mentor, school, etc)?
I began leading worship as a high school student when I was 15. My youth pastor at the time was supportive enough to allow me to fumble around on my guitar and sing with my friends. At that time it was just me and a handful of transparencies. My friends and I used to hang out at parks, churches, and community centers on the weekends playing worship music and praying for each other.
My first job in a church came my junior year in college. I was so passionate about leading that I drove about 90 miles one way each Sunday to lead worship at a new church plant. I’ve had numerous mentors along the way all of which have helped shaped me into the leader that I am. I am always learning and am thankful for the leadership and influence in my life pushing me to be a better worship leader both musically and visually.
2) What is the most helpful habit you have developed as a worship leader?
Two helpful habits I have formed as a worship leader are punctuality and preparation. I am always early and I am always prepared. I make a habit of arriving on Sunday mornings at least an hour before sound check. This gives me a chance to take my time and not be rushed. I’m never running to the stage when it’s time to start. I take time to pray for the morning, prepare my heart, and tune my instrument (my guitar and my voice).
3) What has helped you develop as a worship leader?
I am a music nerd. Specifically, I am a worship music nerd. The majority of the music I listen to is new worship music from iTunes. Each Tuesday morning (new music Tuesday) I visit the iTunes store and see what new tunes have dropped. Listening to as much new music as I can helps me develop my own taste and style. Listening to live albums, helps me develop transitional skills, and instinct. I’m always listening, hoping to find a great new anthem for my church to sing.
4) What’s one thing you wish you would have known 10 years ago?
10 years ago, I wish I had known how important it was to have relationships with the people in you church. I was a kid, with big dreams and aspirations. I thought I was cool, and didn’t take the time to understand the congregations I was leading. Knowing your people helps you connect better and helps you lead better. If I had worked on those relationships more in my early years as a worship leader, I believe I would have been more effective in my ministry, not just my ability to play and sing.
5) If you could only give one piece of advice to a growing worship leader, what would it be?
If you want to be a great worship leader on the platform, work on being a great leader off the platform. Leadership is influence, and our effectiveness as worship leaders in the local church depends a great deal on the influence we have in others lives. Our worship teams will work harder and trust us more. From the platform we will be more transparent, and connect better with the congregation all because they know us and trust us to lead them into the presence of God.
Some really great insights here. Love what Bradley said about having relationships with the people you lead. This is SUCH an underrated quality that is NECESSARY to be an effective worship leader. ANY musician can get on stage and knock out a music set. However, it takes a committed worship leader to love and lead people week in and week out.
Like I said up top, Bradley is also a Media Director, and is a HUGE proponent of the use of Visual Worship (also check out Stephen Proctor’s site for a deep & wide exploration of visuals as a liturgy). Bradley loves to help people realize how any church, big, small, whatever, can use visuals to help tell the story of God in powerful ways.
You can check out some of his visual resources that he’s created over on Vimeo and feel free to contact him on Twitter with any questions you might have about implementing this facet of worship at your church.