Sufjan Stevens’ Insight Not to Be Missed

Zac HicksArt and Worship, CultureLeave a Comment

A Lot Under the Bus Author David Roark has published a well-written article about Sufjan Stevens vis-à-vis the “Christian Music” scene. Roark has located the turn from Christians-as-artists to “Christian artists” in the 1960s, with the Jesus Movement’s evangelistic objectives and youth culture targeting. The bulk of the article is focused on the dichotomy between what artists like Sufjan are trying to do and what the “Christian Art” world is doing. I appreciate the article, but at the same time … Read More

Why Studying Cranmer Can Be Valuable for Worship Leaders Today

Zac HicksCulture, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

Periodically, I will be blogging over at Reformed Worship, a broad and thoughtful home for deep reflection and great resources. My first submission is a plea for folks in our Reformed tradition (and beyond) to take seriously the investigation of Thomas Cranmer, sixteenth century English Archbishop and architect of the Book of Common Prayer. In the article, I discuss why we’re tempted to overlook him as one of the Reformation’s best worship thinkers and why he should be considered as … Read More

Worship Leader “Oversouling”

Zac HicksCulture, Worship Leading Tips4 Comments

An article over at the Huffington Post (John Eskow, “Christina Aguilera and the Hideous Cult of Oversouling”) strongly criticized Aguilera’s performance of the national anthem at an event not long ago. The article did some nice parsing work about musical style, virtuosity, and when and where to balance the two. There’s something in there for the perceptive worship leader. Eskow references a term coined by Jerry Wexler, who produced Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, among other artists. It’s called “Oversouling”: “‘the gratuitous … Read More

Eminem the Theologian

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Culture1 Comment

I recently posted over at LIBERATE on Eminem’s brilliant new album, The Marshall Mathers LP2. Art historian and cultural analyst at King’s College, Dan Siedell, has encouraged me of late to more honestly listen to the way art deals with dark themes. And Andy Crouch, who spoke at this year’s Liberate Conference, encouraged much of the same. I was blown away by the artistry and poignancy of the first song on Eminem’s album, and I quickly realized that it was … Read More

What Technology’s Democratization of Worship Songwriting Means for Us

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, Culture, History of Worship and Church Music, Songwriting, Worship Technology2 Comments

Ones and Zeros Chuck Fromm, publisher of Worship Leader magazine, recently summarized and explored the implications of the shift of the church’s song from paper to bits and bytes in the January/February article in that publication, “The Hymn Cloud: Generation to Generation.”  The transition from hard publishing to web publishing has much more de-centralized and democratized the enterprise of hymnody for both songwriters and publishers (“hymns” being used in the broadest sense of “the Church’s body of sung prayer”). Fromm, … Read More

9 Things That Christian Worship Should Be

Zac HicksCulture, Worship & Mission, Worship Theology & Thought1 Comment

Summarized from the Prologue to The Worship Sourcebook:*

1. Christian worship should be biblical.

  • worship includes prominent readings of Scripture
  • worship presents & depicts God’s being, character, & actions consistent with how Scripture does
  • worship obeys explicit biblical commands about worship
  • worship heeds scriptural warnings about false/improper worship
  • worship focuses primary attention where the Bible does–on Jesus

2. Christian worship should be dialogic.

  • God speaks through the Spirit, and we respond in a variety of ways
  • worship is initiated by God
  • worship balances attentive listening and honest speech

Worship and the Physical Body: The Earthen Vessels Symposium – Part 2

Zac HicksCulture, Worship Theology & Thought3 Comments

This is Part 2 of a blog symposium with Matt Anderson on his book Earthen Vessels.


How We Analyze Disembodied Forms of Worship

This section puts Anderson at odds with much of the cutting edge thinking about online church, video feeds of preachers, and disembodied Christian “communities.”  I agree with his analysis (ultimately, that the aforementioned realities are inadequate, even wrong, and betray an inadequate biblical anthropology) and will only add a few things.  Anderson pokes at something very significant at the get-go when he talks about the “altar call” and the dominance of the act of evangelism in shaping evangelical worship.13  We can burrow down deeper, here.  Evangelical worship today has been shaped by the realities of the American frontier. 

Worship and the Physical Body: The Earthen Vessels Symposium – Part 1

Zac HicksCulture, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

I have the privilege of contributing to a blog symposium, along with several other authors and bloggers, on Matt Anderson’s terrific book, Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith.1  Matt is a fellow Biola-grad, lover of Christ’s Church, and blogaholic over at Mere Orthodoxy and Evangel.  Even as I interact with the book, be sure to check Mere-O in a few days from this post to see Matt’s interaction with me.

The final chapter of the book, “The Body and the Church,” instead of focusing on ecclesiology (the study of the church), in general, zeroes in on doxology (the study of worship) in particular.  To structure the dialogue, let me first attempt to summarize the chapter in a thesis statement, along with his subsequent supporting arguments.  Anderson’s chief point is that the physical body matters to corporate worship.

Hearts, Mammon, and a Cross Made of Dollar Bills

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Culture, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

  “God Gave,” by Michael WintersThe image is powerful.  Of course, there are many liabilities to image-based communication, not the least of which is its openness to a variety of interpretations and a subsequent muddying of its message.  Nevertheless, visual statements can be powerful. My church, along with seemingly every other, is experiencing its share of financial hardship.  Every time the pressure is on (and even when it’s not), we leaders start evaluating and addressing how our congregations are responding … Read More

A Rock & Roll Curriculum that Seminaries and Christian Colleges Should Pay Attention To

Zac HicksCulture, History of Worship and Church Music, Worship Resources, Worship Style, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

David Brooks, in a 2007 piece in the New York Times, discusses the movement from integration to fragmentation in American rock music.  The 1970s saw bands like the Rolling Stones and Springsteen drawing from country, soul, and blues to converge in fresh, integrative rock styles.  Groups such as these mark the era of “super-bands” that could sell out stadiums, some of which still do today.  But since that era, we’ve seen a splintering of music into thousands of ghettos.  The result is that music-making in the modern era, at least among rock musicians, is very disconnected with the past, lacking any sense of creative continuity and integration with the musical building-blocks that have come before.