How One Worship Pastor Prepares for a Performance of Handel’s Messiah

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Worship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading TipsLeave a Comment

This Friday, at Coral Ridge, choirs from our church and and school (Westminster Academy) will join some of South Florida’s finest soloists, some of the best players from Miami’s musical scene, and organist Chelsea Chen to perform what will no doubt be a stellar interpretation of G. F. Handel’s Messiah. They will be conducted by Renee Costanzo, director of the choral program at Westminster Academy. The longer I dabble in this field of “Worship & Arts,” the clearer sense I get … Read More

Fighting the Demons of Worship Leader Depression

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips1 Comment

It’s part of our lot in life as artist-types that many of us tend to be built with a wider emotional range than the rest. We feel highs higher, and we feel lows lower.  Great music and great art often come from a deep place of catharsis, and sometimes it’s the good kind and sometimes it’s the bad kind.  I’ve been leading worship for over a decade now, and I’ve come to realize that life cycles of various forms of … Read More

Worship Leaders as Kohathites: Called to Serve in Most Holy Things

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Worship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

Chalkboard Devotionals at Coral Ridge Every week, I gather our music/worship staff together for some team time.  We devotionally reflect and process different aspects of what worship is and does, and as a new leader in a new context, I find this time invaluable for casting vision and shaping the sanctum sanctorum of Coral Ridge’s worship culture at large.  It starts here. We recently threw up some chalkboard paint on a wall and bordered it with some leftover trim, and it’s … Read More

How to Develop Your Own Philosophy of Worship

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

Whether you’re a worship leader, a pastor, a church leader, or a congregant, having the basic building blocks of a philosophy of worship is vital. When you have your philosophy in place, it helps guard against the type of decision-making that will ultimately hurt or mal-form you and your congregation. When you lead and make decisions from your philosophy, as opposed to from your hip, your leadership becomes much more purposeful, wise, and (when your philosophy is borne out of theological reflection) … Read More

Deflating the Myth that We Worship Leaders Serve Perfect Churches

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Worship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips6 Comments

Image from americangreetings.comWe’re Not Any Better I’ve had a lot of back-door conversations with fellow worship leaders, slugging it out week after week in the local church.  This blog has connected me with many of you, and we’ve met at conferences or just on the road when I’ve been to your towns or when you’ve been to mine.  When we get down to the deep conversations where we’re sharing the joys and woes of pastoral ministry in the context of … Read More

Rightly Parsing “Being a Clean Vessel” for Worship Leaders

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips, Worship Theology & Thought1 Comment

Christianese Sometimes we evangelicals forget how much we “ghetto-ize” our vocabulary. Videos like this one humorously remind us of how foreign our conversations can sound. One of the phrases that often gets tossed around in ministry circles, especially in the spheres of worship leading, is “being a clean vessel.”  We pray prayers like these before worship services: Lord, we just want to be clean vessels this morning as we come to You.  We don’t want our sin to get in … Read More

The Sunday After a Really Great Sunday

Zac HicksWorship Leading Tips, Worship Theology & Thought2 Comments

Last week, I posted about one of those rich, powerful Sundays that happened at Coral Ridge.  It was one of those days when many gathered were caught up in the gospel-story and deeply impacted as we entered, confessed, remembered our pardon, gave, listened, received, tasted, and saw.  My charismatic brothers and sisters call it “God showing up.”  It’s one of those sweet moments where a little bit more of heaven is cracked open for the viewing and God manifests Himself … Read More

The Worship Leader as Emotional Shepherd

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips, Worship Style6 Comments

Music is intensely emotional, and worship leaders know it.  I’ve read plenty of articles and books that outline how worship leading takes people on an “emotional journey.”  At best, these writers are encouraging worship leaders to understand how the worship service is, in a sense, a story, and that our job is to help guide people into experiencing that story with every aspect of who we are, including our emotions.  At worst, however, they are (sometimes unabashedly and explicitly) outlining … Read More

Sound in Reverberant Spaces, Part 1: Why It’s Hard

Zac HicksSound and Audio, Worship Leading Tips, Worship Technology1 Comment

I’ve had the privilege over the last year to work with Steve Bailey, a musician and sound engineer who I believe has “conquered” our hard-surfaced, reverberant, classically-oriented worship space at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church here in Denver.  As a worship leader, my vision for a good mix is not about making our musicians sound awesome as much as it is that the music we make sounds inspiring enough such that we eliminate distractions toward the people of God singing boldly … Read More

Why God Rarely Lets Worship Leaders Have a “Perfect” Worship Service

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Worship Leading Tips1 Comment

Courtesy of despair.comIt happens every Sunday, but some Sundays “it” is more pronounced than on others.  Yesterday, I experienced a small- to medium-sized “it.”  We celebrated Reformation Sunday, and our church was hosting some of the leaders of the international gathering of PEAR USA, the (conservative, evangelical, Rwandan) oversee of the Anglican church in the United States.  In our presence were important figures, including our guest preacher, Bishop Nathan Gasatura and a few of my Anglican worship-leader acquaintances from across … Read More