An Interview with Todd Wright

FullSizeRender 19Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to post a few interviews with worship leader friends of mine, who serve in different kinds of churches around the country, in different denominations, and with different approaches.

But they’re all humble servants who have been faithfully pointing their congregations to Jesus for a while now, and I’d love for you to get to know them too.

Today, I introduce you to Todd Wright. Todd is a worship leader in Texas, and is also a really good song writer. One of the songs he co-wrote, “Hallelujah For the Cross” has become fairly well-known over the last year (especially since Newsboys covered it). So, now he’s a pretty big deal and his pick-up truck is full of Grammys. (Just kidding. He doesn’t drive a pick-up truck.)

JB: Hi Todd! Tell us a little about yourself and your family
TW: I’m Todd Wright. My wife, Kristen and I have been married for 18 years. We’ve got two kids, Jonah (14) and Finley (10.) I’m the worship pastor at Bethel Bible Church in Tyler, Texas. (We have three campuses total. I am at what’s known as the “South” campus.) This September 1 will by my 8-year anniversary at Bethel. I can’t believe it’s been eight years already! They’ve flown by. When I came to Bethel, Kristen and I were very committed to staying at the church for the long haul. That’s not to say God won’t ever move me, but I believe worship leaders should think long and hard about where they land. I honestly believe that a worship leader who stays faithful over years and years is helpful to the church at large.

How long have you served at Bethel Bible Church?
This September will make eight years.
What have been some of your biggest challenges there?
Bethel’s a great church. I’m very blessed to have a pastoral staff and congregation that’s extremely supportive and loving to me and my family. It’s not without challenges, of course. Even eight years in, I’d say we’re still working hard to balance the importance of passionate corporate singing with a long-standing tradition of reverence during worship services. Our people love Jesus, but they don’t always sing like it. That’s hard work, but it’s worth it. I also think Bethel is unique in it’s congregational makeup. Over the past eight years, we’ve moved from a predominately white-collar, professional, upper middle class congregation to one that’s far more diverse in just about about category. Leading a congregation that’s morphed that much has been a challenge.

How long have you been leading worship?
I started leading worship when I was 14. (If you call singing along with Carman CDs in the youth group, “leading,” that is.) I turn 40 in October which means I’ve been doing this in some capacity for 26 years. The mechanics of singing and arranging have gotten easier, but I’m still constantly unlearning and relearning what it is to do the job. One of the most important thing that God’s shown me is that worship leading isn’t about doing only the things I like on the platform. I need to be engaged in worship, but I’ve got to pastor my congregants. The longer I do this, the more I realize I also have to work hard to be “invisible” on the platform, lest my personality or preferences become the focus of the singing time.

What are the one or two biggest lessons you’ve learned about worship leading?
1. Worship leading isn’t about doing only the things I like on the platform. I need to be engaged in worship, but I’ve got to pastor that group of congregants as well. 2. Work hard to be as “invisible” as I can be on the platform.
Give us your top-five song-writing tips in bullet-point form.
When it comes to songwriting, I try to remember five very practical rules.

  • Avoid cliche.
  • Melody is everything.
  • Count syllables.
  • Know the difference between a “song for me” and a “song for us.”
  • You have to write a lot of bad songs before you write a good one.

Thanks, Todd!

You can hear Todd’s songs and buy his music here. 

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