Advent as God’s Gracious Declaration of War

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, Worship Theology & Thought1 Comment

When we think of Advent (if we have any thoughts), we are usually drawn to the comforting images of Christmas–Jesus as a baby, peace on earth, good will toward men, etc. If we’ve gone deeper into Advent, perhaps we recognize it as a season of pain, longing, unmet expectations, and hopeful waiting. But have we ever thought of Advent as God’s declaration of war? Ancient Christians passed to us a formula to describe this war, formalized especially in the vows … Read More

What a New Jesus Culture Album Teaches Us About Worship

Zac HicksAlbum Reviews, Church & Ecclesiology, Worship Theology & Thought4 Comments

Justin Jarvis, Atmospheres I’ve been listening to the newest album under the Jesus Culture umbrella, called Atmospheres. It’s by my friend and fellow local Ft. Lauderdale worship leader, Justin Jarvis. We’ve shared coffee and way too large piles of pastrami at a local hole-in-the-wall. Atmospheres is an incredible live album with an amazing sound and overwhelming moments where great truth profoundly collides with raw experience. There are several songs that paint new, imaginative pictures of old, timeless truths, like “Taste” … Read More

The Murderous Intent of Baptism (and Why Worship Leaders Should Care)

Zac HicksWorship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

Baptism should be on the radar of every worship leader because baptism is an act of God amidst the gathered, worshiping church. And if we all had perfect eyes of faith, baptism would feel every bit as communally euphoric as the most epic, heart-wrenching worship song we know. Here’s why. Whether we baptize babies or baptize those mature enough to profess faith, we tend to feel baptism as a communally pleasant experience. And it is. We have the opportunity to … Read More

Fascinating Insight Linking Indian and Gospel Music

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

A while back I posted on a wonderful little session where Bobby McFerrin exposed the trans-cultural nature of the pentatonic scale. I think a similar insight can be seen here in the common, trans-cultural “soul” of music as blues/slide guitarist Derek Trucks talks about his influences (thanks to Coral Ridge Music’s Lindsey Blair, for pointing this video out to me!). A little after the 8-minute mark, Trucks notes how though the tonality of an Eastern scale and a bluesy gospel scale … Read More

Do Lyric Statistics Indicate a Shift in Worship?

Zac HicksHistory of Worship and Church Music, Worship Theology & Thought2 Comments

Bruce Springsteen’s Lyrics, in a CloudWord Stats Yesterday, Duke scholar Lester Ruth (someone whose work every worship leader should pay attention to) tweeted this interesting stat: Continuing hymn/CCLI song comparison. Most frequent human verbs in hymns? “sin” and “see”; in CCLI songs? “sing” and “praise” His sources for study involve, first, a look at the 70 most republished evangelical hymns up to 1860…so, material that many evangelical historians would classify as more “classic” hymns (as opposed to the “gospel hymn” … Read More

Destroying Self-Worship with Selfless Songs

Zac HicksSongwriting, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

Please stop what you’re doing and treat yourself to this amazing post over at Liberate by a worship leader I respect and appreciate, Sam Bush. He spends some time exegeting the hymn, “Hallelujah! What a Savior,” by Philip Bliss…a favorite of mine and a staple here at Coral Ridge. He hits on themes I try to bring up that I don’t think enough attention is drawn to in discussions of the “aim” of worship songs. Some quotables: One reason why … Read More

On Worship That Makes Us Feel Lousy

Zac HicksWorship Leading Tips, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

Worship should be uplifting, right? It should make us feel great, right? Well…sort of. Worshipers and worship leaders need to take a good, hard look at the Scriptures and ask, “What is the Bible’s vision of worship?” THAT starting point–not what worship we grew up with, not what worship gives us goose bumps, not even what our favorite worship leader or blogger tells us–is the only way to begin finding healthy, wholesome answers. So, for example, we open up to the Psalms, God’s … Read More

What if Volume in Worship Became Less About Preference and More About Discipleship?

Zac HicksSound and Audio, Worship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Technology, Worship Theology & Thought3 Comments

Refreshing Old Dialogues I’m always grateful for articles, thoughts, posts, and insights that reopen dialogues that feel simultaneously over-worn and under-productive. The volume-level-in-worship dialogue feels like one of those to me. It all too often gets downgraded into an issue of pure preference, sounding like this: The old people can’t stand how loud it is and just want it turned down.The young people can’t stand how soft it is and just want it turned up. I have also heard the … Read More

Worship Leading, Ageism, and the Fear of Getting Old (Repost)

Zac HicksWorship Theology & Thought1 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 … Read More

An Important Worship Conversation Happening in the Blogosphere

Zac HicksWorship Theology & Thought1 Comment

Two worship blogs I regularly follow, authored by two worship leaders I highly respect–David Santistevan and Jamie Brown–have engaged in an important exchange, asking the question about what the “real problem” is with evangelical worship today. It began a few weeks ago with Jamie’s post responding to his (and my) experience at the National Worship Leader Conference in DC. Here is the crux of the problem, as Jamie articulates it: Throughout the conference, at different sessions, with different worship leaders, … Read More