Pastor Profile: Pastor Rudy Hagood
What brought you to ministry?
I’ve been in ministry since 2000. My brother, Fate Hagood, who’s seven years older than me, started preaching when he was 15. People would ask are you are going to be like your brother and I would say no. I was on a different path. I went to Florida A&M on a basketball scholarship, but I was not ready for that so I came back home and started attending his church.
He started a discipleship group and while I grew up in church and knew the word discipleship, I had no idea what he meant, but I said okay. Then he said, ‘we’re going to meet at my house at 7 in the morning,’ and that’s how I knew it was different. We get there and it was about 10 or 11 of us. He would teach the word and we’d break off into groups and discuss whatever the topic was. If he was preaching somewhere, we would go and if any of us was doing anything, we would go support one another. It was the closest thing I’ve experienced to what you see in the book of Acts, where the disciples did life together.
Was that when you decided to go into ministry?
No, I still wasn’t trying to be like my brother. I was a social worker. I had worked my way from childcare worker to assistant, supervisor, director of a group home and program coordinator. So, my path was social work. I was just being a disciple because I love Jesus, but about eight or nine months into this process, we’re at church and he says, ‘You guys are going to be real excited, we have some guest speakers tonight, but they don’t know they’re speaking’. I look around, but I don’t see anyone new. Then he says, ‘You guys have 10 minutes to give us 10 minutes’. That was my first sermon. I was scared to death. It was harder for me than the rest of the group because it was my brother. But he said: ‘Look, if you can learn to submit to me and you know I’m imperfect, then submitting to a perfect God becomes easy.’ I’m thinking either you mind-tricked me because you’re my big brother, or that makes a lot of sense. We did [the discipleship] for a year. After that year, he said, ‘now you go and do the same.’ So, I grabbed six guys and discipled those guys and those two years I grew more than any other years in my life.
Why did you leave working with your brother?
When we began the discipleship, I was living in Compton. The church was in Carson so that wasn’t a big deal, but we moved to the Valley and for seven years my family and I were driving from the Valley to Carson three to five times a week, where I was getting a small stipend, but the commute got to be too much. Instead, we started going to Shepherd of the Hills. It was the first time where we had seen a multicultural church like that, where you walked in and it wasn’t a black church, it wasn’t white, it wasn’t Latino, it was everybody. I wasn’t trying to get back into ministry, but our kids were in the youth ministry when one of the youth pastors says, ‘we need to meet your parents because someone’s been pouring into you.’ First they met my wife and got her to volunteer with the young adults. The next thing you know, I’m the young adult discipleship pastor. Well, Shepherd has a daughter church in Simi Valley of about 2,000 people called Discovery Church. Someone told them about me and I ended up becoming the discipleship pastor for Discovery. I was at Shepherd for three years and then I made that transition to Discovery another three.
Things are going well, why did you leave Discovery?
My wife and I are just ‘jump out on our faith kind of people’, so we’re like God is calling us to plant a church. So, we jump out to do our own thing and started out at our house. That doesn’t go as well as we thought it would, but God used the experience to teach us a lot.
So, the church doesn’t work out, what’s your next move?
I knew the guy pastoring here, Scott Julian, and Scott had an opening, so I came here. Things were going really well, but I was part time. My wife was in marketing at the time, but she lost a big contract and all we had was my part-time job. I was at a church that I loved, but financially we just weren’t in a good space and a guy from San Diego calls and says, ‘I got a full-time deal for you, if you’ll come be my number two.’ So, I go there and I’m there about two years, and Scott leaves and they ask if I’d be willing to fill in a couple Sundays. After I preached, they asked if I would consider being a candidate for lead pastor. So, God brought me back here.
What do you love about this church?
It’s one of the most loving, welcoming groups of people I’ve been around. I love that it’s intergenerational with people of all ages. Plus, I have a heart for multicultural churches and it’s reflective of the community. You rarely see community churches anymore. My heart is to be community church so I will make disciples who love God, love our people and love our city. That’s the part that is a little unique. Our vision is to be a bridge for the gospel of Jesus Christ reaching the city. So, I want people out being a part of the community whether that’s volunteering as coaches, being a part of your neighborhood groups or whatever—be a part of the city.
The services are relatively short?
Yes, we have two services and they are like one hour and ten minutes each.
How important is being diverse?
I want to be intentional about being diverse and I mean that culturally and racially, but also you will see men and women working together that all levels. That also means economically. We want to reach out to the poor, the rich, the middle class—everybody.
You believe in mentoring…
That’s how I grew—from someone saying look and see how I love my wife, now you go do the same. Look and see how I take people on and teach them the word of God, now you go do the same. Look how I deal with my kids, now you go do the same. I believe in mentoring.
Where does your social work background fit in?
I want to make sure that we start to make a bridge into adopting and fostering. I would love to see our church become a church that begins to adopt and foster more as a way of loving our city and taking care of the community. I want to have the best children’s ministry that we can have with a church our size with the best resources possible. We have the same opportunity to do for others what God has done for us and then pass it on. I also want us to get involved in making a difference in human trafficking. This is personal for me because I have four daughters and I know that most of the kids being trafficked are girls.
What’s your biggest challenge?
I have horrific stage fright. I can remember being on the teaching team at Discovery and I was throwing up the mornings before I preached. I struggle with that, but the more I preach the easier it is. Now that I’m a lead [pastor], I preach all the time so it is a bit easier. It doesn’t bother me when singing, but it’s because preaching matters that much to me and though I’m a discipleship guy, without preaching you won’t really reach people.
What is your particular style of preaching?
I’m passionate about teaching and people getting the point. I want to be a bridge for people to get to God, for people to connect to one another and I want to bridge people’s concepts so I can help them get from A to Z.
When will you consider yourself successful?
When I have people loving God and loving the city.