This is a picture of my friend Brad. I was just listening to a pre-release cut of Brad's song Mercy Street from his album Mercy to be released September 14, 2005.
Brad is a great guy; a true friend and my right hand when I was in youth ministry. Brad came to our church in 1998 or 1999 when we were looking for a worship leader. Our church did not select Brad as worship leader at that time, but Brad knew he heard from the Lord that he and his family were supposed to be at our church, so they stayed. That says a lot about the kind of guy Brad is. Brad proved himself faithful (and more than up-to-the-job) and has now been our church's worship leader since 2003.
I can't say a lot about Brad's musical ability because I have so little ability in that area, but I know he is a man of integrity who knows the Word, is a gifted teacher and has a true pastor's heart for the people he works with. (Now don't get me wrong, Brad is a good musician and I enjoy his music...I'm listening to "Mercy" pre-release copy as I'm writing this...I just can't say describe his musical ability the way a musician could). You can visit our church web page at www.theVineFellowship.com and click on the STAFF link to see Brad's many accomplishments as a musician.
I didn't know Brad all that well until 2000 I think it was. I was youth pastor at the church and we had a youth worship team, led by youth group members. Jamin Gore had the vision to start a youth worship team and he left a legacy for No Compromise Youth that continues to this day. Ryan Kerr followed in Jamin's footsteps leading youth worship after Jamin graduated, but then in 2000, Ryan graduated as well leaving me with members of a worship team but nobody to lead them. As I prayed about it, Brad's name came to mind seemingly out of the blue. I had been thinking about and praying about the issue for several days before Brad's name came to mind. I took Brad out to lunch and shared my heart with him about youth worship and my desire to have him come work with us. Then the strangest thing happened...Brad told me he would love to do it, but he was just too busy at the time. It's not strange for people to be busy, and I actually appreciate the quality in people that allows them to say "no" when they can't do something to the best of their ability because they are doing too many other things, but it was strange that Brad would answer that way. Why? Because I knew the Lord told me to ask him. And then another strange thing happened...I just said "ok" and didn't think much more about the entire issue. I didn't have a worship leader, I had nobody else I felt good about asking, but I didn't stress about it (me not stressing about something is VERY strange!). It was almost like I didn't even think about it again until Brad told me a week or so later that he needed to talk to me. We got together again and Brad told me the Lord told him he was supposed to do youth worship. I didn't know that was going to happen, but I wasn't surprised either. I guess because of the "kookiness" I see in some people who say "the Lord told me...." I don't say that very often. I believe I hear from the Lord, but I rarely say, "the Lord told me...". But Brad working with the youth was one of those things I knew the Lord told me, so I was just excited when he said "yes".
And from there, a friendship began that is one of my dearest at our church to this day. As Brad started working with the youth worship team, it became obvious that this was a PERFECT fit. Brad had the skills to lead the team, but he also had a pastor's heart. He pastored the youth on the worship team and developed them as musicians, worship leaders and Christians. Because of his incredible pastor's heart, I often talked to Brad about how to say things to individual youth when I was dealing with an issue with them (because I am WAY too direct and inflexible sometimes). During the hard times when I questioned if I was doing things right, Brad was always there to encourage me. And he could make observations or suggestions that never felt like an attack. One of the things I appreciated the most about Brad was that I could let him do anything he wanted without the slightest concern that he was doing anything contrary to vision I was casting for the ministry. Brad has a unique ability to hear your heart and vision and run with it making it even better in the process. Brad was not only my right hand man...he WAS MY RIGHT HAND. After he started working with me, I wondered how I ever did it without him. He was always willing to do whatever I asked, he was a great encourager, a sounding board and a counselor.
I speak of those things in the past tense because I am no longer the youth pastor at our church, but I still admire all of those things in Brad. One of the things I miss most about youth ministry is working with Brad. We still work together since we are both on staff the church, but it's not the same. But Brad is still the great friend and very qualified minister he has always been. You should check him out online at www.BradIrons.com If you're a pastor or someone with "say so" in your church, you should consider allowing him to come minister at your church.
But you know what my favorite thing about Brad is? He pays SO WELL for shameless promotions like this! I will be able to take my family out to eat three times with what I will get for writing this post! Of course I'm just kidding...Brad does not even know I am writing this. I was just sitting listening to his song Mercy Street and was thinking about how much I enjoy the album and what a great friend he is. Head on over to Brad's web page and listen to some of his music. You will be encouraged and blessed...kinda like I am for having a friend like Brad.