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Worship Leading 101: Q&A with Jad

Jun 15 2015

A few weeks ago at Team Night, we did a short interview with Jad Gillies, one of our key worship leaders.  We asked him a few questions about worship leading, and it was such a blessing to our own team, so we wanted to share it with you too!


How many black t-shirts do you actually own?  Is there a firm number, at any given time?

Jad — My wife is shouting “53” haha… she thinks she’s funny ha!  I dunno, maybe 12?

Come on bro…

Well I recently did a big throw-out…  I think it’s 12, anyway.

Mrs Gillies is unconvinced. She washes them so she knows. I always feel like you just buy new ones, so you don’t have to wash them. That’s the trick, isn’t it?

Nah that’s tour life!  “Should we do laundry?  Nah, let’s go to Walmart…”  That’s what it is haha!

One day, when it comes time to do ‘Jad Gillies: The Movie’, who will play Jad Gillies?

Well I know who will play JD — Russell Brand haha!


Umm… I like Tom Hardy, I think he’s awesome … but I think he might be just too good for me.  So I think I’ll go for an old, busted up Sylvester Stallone.  ‘Expendables 3’ Sylvester, you know where his face is kinda hanging off and he’s like ‘ugh blah huh’ and stuff… haha but I bet he had a blast!

This is where the questions get heavy, is that ok?  I feel like we’ve just softened you up, and now we’re coming in throwing punches, Rocky style.

When it comes to Worship Leading, how do you prepare mid-week? Before you get to Sunday?

Well, I oversee worship leaders for our church in Australia, and so one of the things I’m thinking of is who I’m going to be co-leading with … the way we bring people through, is through what we call our co-worship leader system. Basically what I’m thinking about is how to best give them a win on the platform; how best to teach them on the job.

But when I’m leading, here’s the main thing I’m thinking about the service: I start with where I want to finish, and then I work backwards from there. I always have in mind where I want to end up in a service, and in what state I want to hand it over to the pastor or MC.

We as worship leaders have a responsibility that not one person in the entire place misses out on the presence of God.

If you’ve heard me in rehearsals or pre-service prayer meetings, you would have heard me say this every time I open my mouth, cause I’m seriously passionate about it.

My main thought is — I just design a service so that as many people as possible enter in to the presence of God. I see that as our responsibility; to bring people in.

READ ALSO: Worship Leading 101: Growing in Confidence

One thing you hinted at there, and something you say a lot to our team, is that the most important thing for a worship leader to do is to love their church, to love their people. If they do that, everything will kind of flow out from that.

What does that look like, practically speaking?

We interact with our congregation, just like I’m interacting with you right now. The funny thing is that a congregation will trust you if they can connect with you. And they will follow you if they trust you. But if they can’t connect with you, they won’t trust you — if they don’t trust you, they won’t follow you.

And they have a pretty good nose for a contrived kind of vibe, you know? They have a pretty good nose for somebody that is up there for their own purposes. They’re great at sniffing that out, it’s crazy!

But they also have a great nose for figuring out whether or not you’re genuine, whether or not you want the best for them, whether or not it’s actually a priority for you to do what’s gonna be best for them. I feel like the church, they’re great at figuring that out.

Darlene was the best example for me … she told me one time, “Sometimes you actually need to be firm with people. Don’t knock them on the head, but when you’re firm with them sometimes, it tells them that you mean business! They can trust you and know that this is something that’s actually for their benefit!”  It was a great lesson for me, because I feel like our church are looking to the platform for leadership.

The reason we have worship leaders because (the only reason I can think of), is because sometimes people need leadership.

Sometimes people come in to church and they have no idea how to get from what they’re burdened with (from their week — maybe kids, finances, grief, whatever…), sometimes they have no idea how to get from where they are, and they’re all burdened and they’re tied up, to a place where they’re actually surrendered to God.

And THAT’s why we have this platform — it’s not so we can get up and wear our Sunday best and play our new guitars … that’s not the reason — we have a stage, a platform, to serve these people.  So if we come in here and we say “Hey, you know what — fix your eyes on Jesus this morning!  He’s the answer to any of your problems, He has the provision for any of your needs, He’s the one you are looking for this morning. Fix your eyes on Jesus, not on your burden!” … that’s our job!  And if people actually see us doing that, then they can figure out pretty quickly that we’re genuine, and that we want the best for them.


On that, talking about young worship leaders,  or people who are just starting to develop that part of their lives …

What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you when you were starting out, or when you were still that junior guy?

Well, the one thing that I did get told, that knocked me over … I’m so glad I got told that! I remember going on my first tour, and I thought I was a big deal and I was so awesome haha…  I came back to church and I was a young guy on staff, and I remember everytime anyone said anything about anything, I had an opinion, cause I was so awesome, you know? Haha!

I just remember talking, blabbing on, and Ian (one of our senior worship staff at the time) said “let’s go grab a coffee”, and I thought “yeah awesome!  I might even be able to teach you something”… haha!  Anyways… I was an idiot.  We hadn’t even really got between our church building and the coffee shop, and he just says “I want to tell you something — you might think you have so much to say… but right now, no one really wants to hear it!  You’ve been on one tour, and now you think you know everything… Maybe, just stick around, pull your weight, do some work, carry some of the load, and THEN somebody’s gonna want to hear what you have to say.”  And I was so devastated haha… but it was the best thing he could have done ! For a couple weeks it knocked me over … but it was just the best, and I’m so glad that he actually had the courage to say that to me.

If you’re coming through, if you’re a young person out there — respecting the more experienced crew is not about the experienced crew getting respect.  It’s about you giving what is going to pave your way.  A lot of times people think “you’re teaching us about respect cuz you just want us to respect you ...”  It’s not about that.  People like me are trying to teach the younger crew about honour and respect, because it actually benefits you, your life, your relationships, and your ministry.

One last question — you already said that you help look after our worship leaders across Australia.  You tour, you lead, you sing, you do all these things…

What are YOU doing to improve yourself, this year? What are you doing to keep pushing yourself further rather than just sit back?

I actually was sitting down at home the other day, thinking about what I need to do … it’s not just about bettering myself, or becoming better at my craft. But it’s about actually making sure that I’m not short-changing God on the opportunities that He’s given me. It’s about me actually pushing and pushing, not striving, but making sure that I fulfill the part of my responsibility that says I have to bring my very best.

SEE ALSO: What is Excellence?

I haven’t been reading for like a few years, but I bought these two books about worship. One’s called “Worship Matters”, by Bob Kauflin. So I’ll be reading those for sure!

It is about being diligent, I think.  It goes across the board — because a worship leader is a singer too, that’s a part of what they do.  It’s one of the edges of their sword, if you want to call it that.  So if I ever hear any of you who are worship leaders say “I’m not really a singer, so I’m not going to develop my vocal” … I will slap you so hard! I’m sorry, I’m just warning you haha.  If I ever hear anybody say that they’re not a singer, yet they’re a worship leader, oooh you’re gonna get an uppercut, I’m just saying!  But seriously — it is our responsibility, and we need to be diligent !!!  Alright?  🙂

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