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Sixteen Ways Worship Pastors Can Engage Pastorally

Categories Ministry

9780310525196What role does a worship leader play in the modern church?

Song leader? Lead musician? Not really.

Zac Hicks wants to help fellow worship leaders realize they are actually worship pastors. So he wrote a resource to help them, called The Worship Pastor:

If you’re a new worship leader, this book is for you. It will give you an inspiring vision for the road ahead. It will hopefully also provide a set of tools to help sharpen and aim your call. If you’ve been a worship leader for a while, The Worship Pastor is for you too. It will be a fresh articulation of the job you’ve already been doing and hopefully provide some inspiration for how to make what you do even better. (19)

“Whether you know it or not," Hicks writes, "you are pastoring” (13). And his resource is a practical and biblical introduction to the essential pastoral role worship pastors play by offering sixteen ways leaders can engage pastorally—which we’ve briefly outlined below.

1) Church Lover

The foundation of a worship pastor is church-love, and these six characteristics need to be cultivated to be a church lover:

  1. Passionately love the church
  2. Zealously commit to its vision and mission
  3. Humbly submit to God-ordained leadership
  4. Joyfully cultivate compassion for all
  5. Willingly enter into your church’s woundedness
  6. Faithfully remind the church of her church-ness.

2) Corporate Mystic

Hicks argues that worship pastors need to “reclaim the enchanted belief in the communal experience of the power and presence of God, particularly, and maybe chiefly, in worship” (31).

3) Doxological Philosopher

Philosophers are people who ask, Why? “And worship leaders who take their pastoral role seriously must start asking why about everything they do in worship” (42).

4) Disciple Maker

It’s easy to become leaders of, for, and by ourselves. Hicks calls for worship pastors to look outward: “The guiding question for a worship pastor as a disciple maker is: ‘Does this build up the body?’” (53).

5) Prayer Leader

Augustine said, “Whoever sings, prays twice.” Translation: worship is prayer. Which means “the liturgies we employ, the song sets we put together, and the gaps that we fill everywhere else become the very words that the bride of Christ will utter to her Bridegroom” (60).

6) Theological Dietician

Hicks encourages worship pastors to consider four “food groups” in worship to engage pastorally: sermon, sacrament, structure, and song. Through these groups, worship leaders “theologize” their community.

7) War General

Worship is war. Why? Because “the enemy hates the worship of God more than anything else” (80). Hicks reminds us that worship’s battle is fought on three fronts: hell, the world, and the flesh.

8) Watchful Prophet

Sometimes worship pastors forget they have a prophetic calling similar to Habakkuk, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. “Our job is to station ourselves as watchful prophets over the people of God” (88).

9) Missionary

Rather than blindly reproducing one-size-fits-all expressions, worship pastors “are cognizant of the climate, soil, terrain, and tradition of their assembly and are always asking questions about how these intersect in gathered worship” (97).

10) Artist Chaplain

In one sense worship pastors are artists’ chaplains—“we’re here to connect with and minister to the artists in our churches and communities.” They’re also artist-chaplains—“artists ourselves, living in overlapping vocational spheres with other artists to whom we’re called to minister” (111).

11) Caregiver

Hicks outlines three ways in which worship addresses the pain of our human experience:

  1. As preventative treatment
  2. Offering ingredients of care you can’t get anywhere else: the Word, baptism, Eucharist
  3. Addressing the heart of the human condition

12) Mortician

"Good morticians" Hicks explains "are skilled in the caring art of preparing bodies for burial. I believe that a worship pastor is a mortician for the body of Christ, one who faithfully prepares the church for her encounter with death—not as a final experience of defeat—but as a transition into life everlasting" (135).

13) Emotional Shepherd

Given that worship is an emotionally charged event, “Worship does something to and with our emotions, and it becomes a context where they are trained into health. Think of worship like a gym where our emotions get a chance to work out and train” (146–147).

14) Liturgical Architect

The glory of God, gravity of sin, and grandeur of grace. Hicks calls them the “three Gs” of a simple, gospel-shaped liturgy that worship pastors can weave into worship to engage pastorally.

15) Curator

While curator is associate with museums, “a worship curator creatively fills [the worship] space with the right elements arranged in the right way,” including: music, prayers, Scripture readings, the sermon, and the sacraments.

16) Tour Guide

As tour guides, worship pastors use three broad categories—flow, ambiance, and leadership—as modes of influence or tools of persuasion to help people invest and engage in worship’s story.


“The goal of this book is to encourage worship leaders, congregations, and their overseers to collectively up the ante on what a worship leader is” (18).

Engage Hicks’s clear guide to leading worship yourself, one that takes the pastoral call seriously.


9780310525196Purchase your copy of The Worship Pastor today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christian Book.

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