So…I’m writing a book

Zac HicksWorship Resources7 Comments


(Read UPDATE #1)
(Read UPDATE #2)

I’m very excited to announce to my readers that I’ve got a book coming down the pipeline. I’m joining forces with a great team of folks over at Zondervan to deliver a project that has been on my heart for quite a while.

The Back Story

For the last five years, I’ve been thinking long and hard about my own journey as a worship leader, and I’ve been thinking a lot of those thoughts out loud on this blog. I’ve been throwing ideas onto the wall, and in many ways, you all–my readers–have been a major help in figuring out what is truly sticking.

My own vocational journey started out as a confused, schizophrenic biography. Since my teenage years, I had sensed a strong call to pastoral ministry, and I had always thought that this call would take the shape of everything else I’d seen: preaching, teaching, visitation, leadership, weddings, funerals, etc. But, God kept on providentially shoving me down the “worship leader” road, and I kept asking Him, “So, when am I going to be able to become a pastor?” Several years ago the realization came, “I AM one, right where I am, doing just what I’m doing.”

And then I started having conversations with other worship leaders who were sniffing out the same ideas in their own callings. But there was very little out there (either educationally or resource-wise) that helped us flesh out what it means for worship leaders to take seriously a pastoral call in their vocation. So we reflected together and informally learned from one another. A few years ago, I started putting those reflections down on paper and keeping a kind of “hopper” for these ideas to get dumped into. The hopper grew and grew, and I not long ago sat down to organize those tossed-in thoughts. I realized I had a pretty comprehensive outline. And, more importantly, I began to realize that God was giving me something to say that just might be helpful for some other brothers and sisters.

What the Book is About

And now I’m here. Somewhere in mid-to-late 2016, we should, Lord-willing, see a book called, The Worship Pastor hit the scene. The hope for The Worship Pastor is that it helps worship leaders flesh out just how their jobs are already a pastoral ministry and equip them to do it better. It’s something that I hope both colleges/seminaries can use as an introductory resource and worship leaders can easily pick up and find a use for (that’s going to be a tension I will be working hard to straddle…substantive enough for institutions, accessible enough for people without much formal training). 

Each chapter will be a vignette, a kind of metaphor for the worship leader’s pastoral life. I’ll tackle subjects such as the Worship Pastor as…

  • Emotional Shepherd
  • Prophetic Guardian
  • Theological Dietician
  • Caregiver
  • Mortician (yup, that’s right…if my book had a soundtrack, this would be where the Scandanavian Death Metal gets played…face-melt)

I’ll share a lot of stories about the good, the bad, and the ugly in my own road of worship leading, and hopefully the book will provide a lot of hope for worship leaders on all points of the journey. My desire is that The Worship Pastor might set a lot of young worship leaders on the right path. At the same time, I hope that the book might provide a renewed vision for worship leaders who have been in the trenches for quite a while and need some fresh inspiration.

Why Am I Telling You This?

So…given that the book is quite a long ways away from being in print, why in the world am I telling you about it now? First, I’m just excited. Second, I invite you to pray with and for me. You all have been such a big encouragement to me, and you’re actually probably the main reason I’m writing this thing. Third, I’m going to be pouring a lot of my energies into writing, which means less time for blogging, and I wanted you to know why. The posts will continue to come, but they probably won’t be as frequent.

I’m already learning how different a book project is from blogging. Each writing medium has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the exchange of ideas. Writing a book with a team of editors requires a lot more discipline and provides a lot more accountability. For those reasons, I think this will be some of my best writing and integrative thinking to date. I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side of all this. All in all, God has really paved the way, so I’m stepping into this new facet of my call. 

I Want Your Thoughts…RIGHT NOW

The fourth reason I’m telling you this is that your feedback has been invaluable to me over the years. It’s sharpened my thinking, and many times it’s redirected my heart to new and better places. So…I want your feedback.  As I write on the topic of pastoring through worship leading,

  • What topics do you hope are addressed?
  • What have YOU learned that you wish someone had told you earlier?
  • Where, in your estimation, are the pastoral blind spots for worship leaders?
  • What are things I have said in the past which have been helpful or real “aha” moments for you?
  • What are things I have said in the past which need sharpening, correction, or clarification?

And…finally…some of these topics are sensitive or too long for blog comments. So…shoot me an email, too, at I welcome your help in making this book as helpful as possible for Jesus’ Church.

7 Comments on “So…I’m writing a book”

  1. 1. Things that come to mind in being addressed are planning a set list, shepherding your flock (team of musicians), relationship between lead pastor and worship leader (maybe?), what to spend 40 hours a week doing as a full time worship pastor/what you spend them doing.

    2. The Fear of the Lord in choosing songs to sing and taking it seriously.

    3. Bringing Scripture into the set list (to read before/between songs)

    4. The shift from "I", self-centered worship to "Trinitarian" centered worship.

    5. Not sure.

  2. Wow – very excited about this, Zac!

    What topics do you hope are addressed?
    Your chapter headings look like you're addressing the really important ones. In addition, I'd like to see a topic on the Worship Leader at home.

    What have YOU learned that you wish someone had told you earlier?
    The importance of communication between your pastors and also those on your team. In my experience of supporting a lead music pastor, he only perceived me as a substitute but the lead pastors perceived me as a co-leader. This mis-communication went on for over a year and caused a lot of problems. Yeah, I know.

    Where, in your estimation, are the pastoral blind spots for worship leaders?
    "The Heart of the Artist" by Rory Nolen has a good chapter called Handling Criticism which I perceive to be a common blind spot for music leaders.

    What are things I have said in the past which have been helpful or real "aha" moments for you?
    Your article on how you choose songs for worship has been very helpful. Also, your post about the differences betweek a lead musician and a worship pastor is very helpful.

    What are things I have said in the past which need sharpening, correction, or clarification?
    I would love to hear more of your thoughts on singing songs about feelings we don't momentarily have. I'd also like to hear your thoughts on why/how to gauge the theological climate of popular worship music as a Worship Pastor.

  3. Hey Zac
    Just saw this. Great! I'm glad somebody picked it up! Drive home the 'pastor' part of 'worship pastor.' You're way ahead of the curve in highlighting the theological and pastoral importance of the worship leading role!

  4. I'm a worship pastor, big non-denom in Wisconsin. 20+ years of experience, 15 years full-time paid. I'll buy your book as soon as it's available. 🙂

    Please bring Scriptural depth and truth to the issue of lead pastor and worship pastor relationship.
    I've worked for several leads, and now I work for one of the best leads there is, IMHO. He and I have "forged" a relationship between wildly different temperaments. That wisdom is critical for any young, new worship pastor, or one who is suddenly thrust into this calling without understanding this important relationship. As a new worship guy, I quit the ministry after a bad experience with a lead pastor, came back after healing and maturing, and God brought me to a wonderful church where I've been for ten years. That experience has taught me a lot about this relationship!

    "How to Shepherd with Words During the Music" or something like that would also be helpful to young leades, I think. There's a lot of mushmouth and kinda doofy talking going on during worship sets these days. I Samuel 16:18 on how a worship leader should speak ("He speaks well and the Lord is with Him").

    "How to Laugh" would be a good one. Worship types can get so intense, we can forget to have a sense of humor, take things too personally, and go dark for too long, which diminishes our effectiveness. Giving perspective on this from Scripture, experience and principles of people skills could be helpful.

    "The Joy of Menial Tasks" would also be a good chapter, since there are so many in worship ministry. This touches on prayer life, walking with the Savior in joy, not allowing footholds of cynicism and resentment for not being "appreciated", and other such foolishness.

    Since you are an experienced worship pastor, putting in a chapter near the end about the payoffs for longevity would be worthwhile. Reputation, the wisdom that God brings through trial that you can then apply to ministry for his glory, the love of your people, momentum in your ministry, trust of your congregation, your staff team, and your musicians and techs, etc. The Bible has a lot more positive things to say on perseverance (character) than strength or talent(gifting). Samson was a talented guy. 🙂 Daniel persevered.

    Phil Barfoot's "Ultimate Idea Book for Music Ministry" has many profiles of guys at churches that have persevered. They are enjoyable to learn from. John Cionca's research on pastor longevity and the most fruitful years of ministry from his classic "Before You Move" could be helpful on this topic.

    Finally, the end of my longwinded post:
    It would be helpful to deal with perspective on trends and change, and tying that to discipling the younger musicians. I deal with this a lot – helping the young ones see the value of honoring their elders, and the elders showing maturity in "sharing the service" rather than being threatened by change. Gordon MacDonald's "Who Stole My Church?" is a great resource for this, too.

    I Look Forward to Reading Your Book!
    Dan Forness

  5. Dan, thank you so much for taking the time to offer me these fabulous insights. I'm grateful that many are already in the manuscript, but you're giving me great food for thought. Thanks!

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