This is an excerpt from our worship leader masterclass at Hillsong Conference 2016 in Sydney. We interviewed a few of our key worship leaders, including Jad Gillies, Taya Smith and David Ware, and we wanted to share some of their thoughts with you. We hope you can join us at Conference this year!
How do you apply heart and practicality to the way you lead worship?
“God is deserving of all worship, and people need help and good leadership to turn their attention towards him. Our job really is to help turn humanity’s attention to an eternal God that sits on the throne. As worship leaders, we should always be developing and deepening our understanding of WORSHIP, but also developing our LEADERSHIP.” – Dean Ussher
“Proverbs 4:23 says ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it’. Leadership starts with our relationship with Jesus. We need to lead ourselves before we can lead others to Jesus. It is a lot easier to lead ourselves when what we sing about is true. In worship, having a relationship with Jesus is key. We need to come fully submissive and teachable. God will then soften our heart so we can offer what He has placed in us.” – Taya Smith
“The real practicalities of worship come from knowing who you’re leading and adjusting your approach to suit and serve the audience. It’s important to make people feel welcomed, at home, as they worship. We can improve our skills, that is a given— We need to be doing this on our own. But we need to grow in our leadership to create an inviting atmosphere during the service. We should know how our worship leading translates to others. Figure out who we are: we’re here to serve. Identify what people need to turn their attention to Jesus, and then help them to draw near to God.” – Jad Gillies
“You can try to fool people all you want, but they’ll eventually figure out whether your worship is real or not. Being real is important while you worship. Get on your knees; put your hands up; or sit and pray. Do what is authentic (and appropriate… Remember what Jad said, we’re there to serve the people we’re leading). One day, we will stand before God and give an account. I want to be able to tell Him how I gave everything I was given.” – David Ware
Free / spontaneous worship – how do you navigate it?
“It’s important to remember that God wants to encounter people even more than we do, and He has set a platform for us, whether what we say is rehearsed or not. Whatever we do, let’s do it with excellence, whether it’s spontaneous or rehearsed or anything.” – David Ware
“I fully believe that what you sing in free worship is what you sing on your own, in your private devotion. What happens most naturally is what happens when it’s just you and God. Free worship is not for us, but the moment we get to minister and show our adoration to God.” – Jad Gillies
What advice would you give to help people prepare when leading worship?
“As a worship leader, your life is preparation. Live and breath it. We need to be all-inclusive and turn others to Christ, on and off the platform, in and out of season.” – Dean Ussher
What is the biggest thing that has transformed how you lead worship?
“Definitely, my community. In a good community, there is strength, health and encouragement and that’s how God created us to live. You get correction from a place of love in community, and in the diversity of community, we can reach different people that others can’t reach. We are always better together, as a team, and this community is very important to me.” – Taya Smith
“Worship is absolutely for everyone, inclusive in nature. Worship is not just for super-cool people or super-spiritual people or this person or that person. God and His Word are inclusive. Everything about worship is inclusive, and as a worship leader, I have begun learning how to think more inclusively. What people need the most is God, no matter who they are. Be the includer in your church! Inclusiveness and encouragement are contagious and attractive: the promises of God and His Word. It’s all inclusive! We’re not building our own thing, but God’s thing—His Church. Let’s do life together. Let’s bring everyone we can on this journey. And let’s develop together as we rely on God. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8 We have tasted that He is good, so now we can show others too that God is good.” – Jad Gillies