Distinguishing Between Songs that are Theologically Incomplete and Songs that are Theologically Wrong

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & Thought8 Comments

From XKCD.comMy last (provocatively titled) post sparked a brief but helpful comment-dialogue between me and my friend, Bobby Gilles, over at My Song in the Night.  It got me thinking about an important point of distinguishing when appraising songs for use in corporate worship.  There’s a necessary distinction that worship pastors, planners, and leaders must make between songs that we can describe as “theologically incomplete” as compared to songs that are just wrong.  Sometimes in our zeal for truth, we … Read More

Five Ways for Worship Leaders to Engage their Jobs More Pastorally

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry9 Comments

In the past three years, I have met a continually growing number of young worship leaders who desire to be more than rock stars or lead musicians in their churches.  In their minds, that approach has been weighed and found wanting.  They want to go deeper.  They want to take their role with the seriousness and gravity with which the minister they serve alongside takes theirs.  They want to be pastors. I could rehearse many things, but the following five keep … Read More

Gutsy Worship Leading, Confronting Idols

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Worship and Pastoral Ministry10 Comments

Amos, 18th c. Russian Icon (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia)Because leading worship is a pastoral endeavor, it makes a lot of sense that most, if not all, facets of pastoral ministry would show up in the work of a faithful worship leader.  In many ways, we can dissect the role of a pastor by examining how a person with such gifts mirrors (albeit in an extremely secondary way) what theologians call “the threefold office of Christ”–Christ as Prophet, … Read More

Worship in the Wake of Aurora

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Worship and Pastoral Ministry4 Comments

There was a lot of crying in worship yesterday.  Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church sits on the edge of Aurora, separated by the Cherry Creek reservoir.  Many in our flock are Aurora residents, and one of our own, Petra Anderson, was in the theater and was hit in the face from a shotgun blast.  Our Senior Pastor, Brad Strait, recounts the miracle of how she is alive and well when she should have been dead in two hours, despite the fact … Read More

Worship as the Antidote to Postmodernism

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & Thought10 Comments

Some out there don’t think that postmodernism needs an antidote, for that would imply that something’s wrong with it.  I happen to think that almost every “ism” needs a check.  Many writers and thinkers on postmodernism point out the fragmentation that occurs in a culture of postmodernity.  Common belief-structures are no longer shared in large quanities among the masses, and the truth that once glued us together, as both whole individuals and whole communities, is no longer present (existentially speaking).  The resulting postmodernity is a fragmented culture and fragmented persons.  

Worship is Where the Church Tries on Her Bridal Garment

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & Thought4 Comments

Worship forms trajectory.  If we are a people “in the world, not of the world”; if we are pilgrims and sojourners; if this world is not our home; if we are a people whose perpetual cry is “come, Lord Jesus,” then worship is one of the chief contexts in which we’re reminded of that.  To put this in theological terms, worship is supposed to be intensely eschatological.  I often mention that worship is one of the chief contexts in which … Read More

How God Cares for Us in Worship

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral MinistryLeave a Comment

Barb Roberts, author of Helping Those Who Hurt: A Handbook for Caring and Crisis (NavPress, 2009), happens to be one of the most thoughtful and intentional practitioner-thinkers I know in the pastoral ministry of caring and mercy.  I have the privilege of working alongside her at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church and, as a young pastor, I can’t express how valuable it is to glean insights from her wisdom and experience in caring for all kinds of people the way Jesus … Read More

How Sermon Analysis Can Lead to Soul-Death

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & Thought3 Comments

We evangelicals love, love, love those Bereans.  They were proto-sola-scripturites:

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.  (Acts 17:10-12, NIV)

Some of us take the Berean model of scripture-reception as the hard and fast methodology for how to listen to Sunday morning sermons.  When the sermon rolls around in the worship service, we turn off our feelers and turn on our analytic receptors.  We slice and dice every word, every phrase, every proposition.  We analyze everything so that we know what we can agree with and “take away” and what we can leave behind.  We want only the meat, so like a dead carcass, we pick at it to ensure that we digest no bones, fat, or entrails.

When the Holy Spirit Breaks Open the Worship Service (Or, the Surprise of Super Bowl Sunday at Cherry Creek)

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Worship and Pastoral Ministry7 Comments

Just in case you were mistaken, this isn’t a worship service. It’s a football game.Quite at the last minute yesterday, I felt nothing less than a strong compulsion from the Holy Spirit to urge our congregation to do something in worship quite foreign to us.  Many moons ago, I posted on physical expressiveness in worship with what I’ve found to be a very compelling argument. 

Is “God Inhabits the Praises of His People” Really Biblical?

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Theology & Thought86 Comments

I reluctantly lift up the truce-flag of exegetical honesty.  I desperately want it to say it.  Many worship leaders (including myself) have quoted it as saying it.  It would be a great proof-text-style summary verse for a very important aspect of the theology of worship.  But the fact is that the translational evidence leans heavily against us being able to say that “God inhabits the praises of His people” is an accurate rendering of the Hebrew of Psalm 22:3.  Now, it is certainly a possible translation, but it is not the one that makes the best sense of the poetry.  Before we unpack this, let’s look at why it would be so valuable for it to say what it doesn’t say.