These days, Chad Gardner is the most extroverted, excited, jumping around, aerobics-class-for-Jesus worship leader we’ve ever had at Mars Hill, usually bouncing around the stage at the Ballard church shoeless, pant legs rolled up, and guitar in hand.
Not too long ago, though, Chad was still young, talented worship leader at a suburban Seattle church—but reveling in his role in the spotlight to an unhealthy degree. “My identity was in being that dude at the church, being the guy that’s good at music,” he tells Pastor Mark in this interview. “It was an idol for me.”
He “burned himself out” he says with sexual sin and porn, but had no men in his life to hold him accountable. “So, I’m in sin and I’m on stage every Sunday,” he says. “I could do music, but my sin was eating me alive.” Something had to change. “I needed to see how men repented,” he says. “I wanted to be around that.”
Right at that time, he got a random call from the Mars Hill pastor who was planting the U-District church at the time. The two met, hit it off, and the pastor invited Chad to be a part of the church plant, even letting Chad live in his basement so he could move into the city. It was exactly the mentoring he’d been looking for. In time, Chad became a deacon, and last year married Alex, another deacon at the church.
After being part of the team to get the U-District church up and running, Chad and his band, King’s Kaleidoscope, moved over to take the helm of worship at the Ballard church. The change from the start-up, student-led church to Mars Hill’s largest, longest standing, and most established congregation has been a big change, but, says Chad, it’s been a chance to learn and grow in “steadiness, faithfulness, and what it looks like day in and day out to shepherd lots of people.”
This spring, King’s Kaleidoscope released Asaph’s Arrows. The four-track EP is named for a worship leader in the book of Nehemiah, and the arrows, explains Chad, are the songs. For the EP, the band took a look at the strongest songs in their catalogs, “the songs people always respond to,” he says. So what songs do people respond to? “Songs that are good, they just fly straight to the heart,” he says. “If they’re filled with truth, they cut to the heart.”
Come join Chad and King’s Kaleidoscope at the Ballard church, which holds four services on Sundays at 9 and 11:15 a.m. and 5 and 7:15 p.m.