Killing Worship Through Over-Explanation

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips, Worship Pastoring0 Comments

Reformed Worship just released a new post of mine, entitled, “How Over-Explaining Worship Kills Worship.” In that post I entertain some important pastoral reflections on the nature of leading worship that educates and informs without throwing a wrench into worship’s gears. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful! Here’s a little quote: “Worship isn’t a time for parsing doxological technicalities just like driving isn’t a time to take apart your engine.” Go read the post!

A Theological Reason Why Worship Leaders Need to Take Naps on Sunday Afternoons

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips, Worship Pastoring7 Comments

I’m Not Playing Around Maybe it sounds a bit cheeky. Perhaps it sounds like overextending an idea’s reach or, worse, a justification for sloth. However, I think there’s a very good theological reason why we worship leaders often find ourselves pillow-side on Sunday afternoons. For me, it’s very personal and autobiographical. I began thinking about all this over the last few months as our church is picking up the pieces of a major tragedy. Since the news hit our church … Read More

Worship Leading, Qualifications, Compensation, Expectations…it’s complicated!

Zac HicksWorship and Pastoral Ministry, Worship Leading Tips2 Comments

There are lots of great forums out there for online dialogue between worship leaders about important issues. But one group has always, for me, been a HUGE cut above the rest…Liturgy Fellowship. Many of the posts and conversations are thoughtful, pastoral, and move beyond the typical “What songs do you all do?” and “What’s your fav verb pedal?” Recently, my friend Wendell Kimbrough (check out his thoughtful site and great music here) offered up a provocative and powerful set of … Read More

Infiltrating Bad Worship Practices by Hijacking Forms

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, History of Worship and Church Music, Worship Leading Tips, Worship Theology & Thought6 Comments

Sounds sinister, doesn’t it? Sounds like something that Christians…especially worship leaders…shouldn’t be a part of. Sounds like the work of terrorists, not pastors. I would tell you, though, that the practice of hijacking and retooling old worship forms has been a part of Christianity for quite some time. Semper Reformanda Every era of Christian worship is always in need of reform. Every era has its highs and lows, its blessings and blind spots. Almost five hundred years ago, Christians like … Read More

The Tension Between the Bland-Voiced Worship Leader and the Stylized Artist

Zac HicksWorship Leading Tips2 Comments

We worship leaders feel an insane amount of conscious and unconscious pressure to sound as good as the latest recordings and rising-star reality shows. Even if we’re not in “fancy” churches with great sound systems and heightened expectations, we all are pressing against the heavy burden to measure up. Sometimes, that pressure leads us to feel that we need to have that “artist’s voice”–wispy, soulful, quirky, frilly, bombastic, indie, overstated, understated, or whatever else is our ideal. We seek to … Read More

On Worship That Makes Us Feel Lousy

Zac HicksWorship Leading Tips, Worship Theology & Thought0 Comments

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

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

Worship Leader “Oversouling”

Zac HicksCulture, Worship Leading Tips4 Comments

An article over at the Huffington Post (John Eskow, “Christina Aguilera and the Hideous Cult of Oversouling”) strongly criticized Aguilera’s performance of the national anthem at an event not long ago. The article did some nice parsing work about musical style, virtuosity, and when and where to balance the two. There’s something in there for the perceptive worship leader. Eskow references a term coined by Jerry Wexler, who produced Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, among other artists. It’s called “Oversouling”: “‘the gratuitous … Read More

Worship as the Means to Overcoming Pride

Zac HicksPersonal Stories & Testimonies, Worship Leading Tips2 Comments

Good worship is formative. Good worship actually makes disciples in the moment of worship. It reflects what 2 Corinthians 3:18 teaches: we grow by beholding (see my post about that). I meet many earnest young worship leaders who describe themselves as having huge pride-problems. “I really struggle with pride,” or “My pride so often gets in the way of me being a worship leader,” they say. I get it. I remember those same deep struggles when I was in high … Read More

The Reason for and Content of Worship (Psalm 102:19-22)

Zac HicksWorship Leading Tips, Worship Theology & Thought2 Comments

As one who not only leads worship but desires to teach my congregation and others about what worship is, I’m always on the lookout for ways to explain worship in a brief yet sweeping fashion, especially when the explanation is packaged in a nice, Scriptural summary. Isaiah 6:1-7 is my go-to passage to talk about Gospel-shaped worship. I use Psalm 95 when speaking of the balance in worship between celebration/joy and reverence/awe. And now Psalm 102 is in my tool … Read More