How Worship Leaders Cultivate “Porous Community”

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips1 Comment

Having recently been in the studio in preparation for new albums this Fall and Winter, I was reminded again of how relationships deepen both spiritual connection and the music-making process. Musicologists have noted for decades that better music is made by an ensemble (their rhythm is tighter, their phrasing is more unified, etc.) when the players are friends. The professional musicians I have worked with over the years have said the same thing—there’s a difference between virtuosic “parallel play” and … Read More

The Fuzzy Middle Between Leading and Attention-Seeking for Worship Leaders

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry3 Comments

I was having lunch with a young local worship leader yesterday, and we were jamming on what it means to lead well and yet not seek the spotlight. Matt Redman nicely summarizes what the sweet spot looks like: I often define good worship leaders as those who lead strongly enough so that people follow but not so strongly that they themselves become the focus.* That’s it, right there. It’s the perfect summary.  But at least for me, I’ve sometimes found … Read More

Worship Leader: Ready or Not, You’re a Pastor

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry3 Comments

Dear Worship Leader, You have an extradordinary job with high stakes and grand opportunities. You aren’t just a song leader. You aren’t just a lead musician. Your setlists aren’t just an inspiring medley of well-glued songs. You aren’t merely on a stage, and those people out there aren’t merely the audience. They are Christ’s Bride, God’s Beloved, gathered in from the four corners of the world that they might be reclaimed, re-aimed by and toward the Author and Perfector of their … Read More

13 Differences Between a Lead Musician and a Worship Pastor (Repost)

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral MinistryLeave a Comment

Five years ago around this time, this blog started with the goal of encouraging theological reflection, biblical depth, historical engagement, and cultural relevance in worship and worship leading. It has gained a steady readership, especially in the last two years, and I want to re-introduce new readers to important old content that has the ability to get lost unless you happen upon it via Google or search posts by topic. Throughout this year, I will offer reposts of what I believe … Read More

How Worship Leaders Can Better Minister to Artists, & Help Them Minister to Us

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Worship and Pastoral MinistryLeave a Comment

Dayton Castleman, “Tilting at Giants”There is a marvelous set of posts over at Q Ideas answering the question, “What Can Artists Teach the Church?” The answers to those questions consist of five responses–three posts and two videos–all brief, but powerful. The landscape of the discussion is broad, but I want to funnel it down to something very specific and apply the discussions to worship leaders/pastors. I’ve discovered in my own journey that we church leaders often narrow the scope of … Read More

Check Out My Interview with Worship Links

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Resources1 Comment

On Monday, Worship Links published an interview with me which I encourage you all to read. Worship Links actually has a lot of great resources, acting as an online clearing house for good worship thought. Several of my friends and fellow worship pastors have been interviewed (including Bobby and Kristen Gilles).   If you only read one thing, make sure you read my most embarassing worship leader moment. It’s quite humiliating and 100% true. Check out the interview here!

Worshiping Our Way Out of Sin

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & Thought4 Comments

For much of my Christian life, I thought sin was primarily fought on the flesh-level, where battleships fire their guns and jets launch their missiles. Recently, I’ve come to realize that the true action is where submarines do warfare. I used to think that, to defeat sin in my members, I must engage things like spiritual disciplines to in a sense “suffocate” the sin out of my flesh. Lust problem? Fast a bunch to teach yourself how to deny cravings. … Read More

Do We Distract Ourselves in Worship to Avoid Honesty Before God?

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

Discovery of a Great Old Worship Book Well, I’ve already deviated from my planned reading list for 2014, but it’s been, so far, a blessed departure from the plans. The more I jam on the themes of the gospel’s relationship to worship, the more I am coming to believe that the psychological aspects of ourselves come to bear on how we approach worship. C. Fitzsimons Allison, a now elderly Episcopal priest, wrote a marvelous book on the intersection of the … Read More

True Worship from the Heart and How it Happens

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & Thought3 Comments

Album art from Matt Jackson’s terrific record!Many worship leaders (including me) are vexed by the question, “How do I get my people to worship?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question by fellow songleaders. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read some speaker or writer on the topic. I was never fully satisfied with some of the answers I got. Often times they were pragmatic “tricks of the trade” like raising … Read More

Even “Lead Musicians” Have a Pastoral Impact Whether They Know it or Not

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral MinistryLeave a Comment

Methodist camp meeting (1839)Under-appreciated by us worship leaders is the role of music in the shepherding of our emotions. Sure, plenty of ink has been spilt blasting some worship leaders for using music as a tool for emotional manipulation (and this cuts both ways in the traditional and modern spectrum). But rarely has that kind of manipulation been identified as the dark underbelly of a very positive and inevitable pastoral enterprise–music as an emotional shepherd.  The Church has a love-hate … Read More