I sat down with worship leader, husband, dad and author of the new book The Worship Pastor Zac Hicks to ask him some questions from the students at Worship Leader School about how we can better pastor our congregations.
He offers some great insight and you can find a condensed version of all the questions and answers below.
What are some practical tips for pastoring a worship team on a weekly basis? Whether that's devotionals, prayer requests, texting, or sending articles or something else?
I think there are a few dimensions to pastoring our teams.
1. Do devotionals as a team
When we gather together, preparing in and around worship services, it's a great time to inject little moments that are devotional, that kind of center our hearts around the biblical and pastoral realities of what we're doing.
Even praying together is a good time to center everybody. I think it's good before worship services to carve out time, so that you're not just rehearsing but you actually have some downtime to hang out and to pray together, and aim your prayers in a missional direction, rather than a personal one.
2. Grab coffee every other month
But I don't think it's good enough to just do that, or it won't go deep enough. Really, for me, I'm trying to pursue them individually, one-on-one, maybe get together with one of them at least every other month or so to hang out for coffee, to hear how they're doing, to dive more deeply into how their faith is going, and what issues they have in their lives.
3. Check-in with people
I also like to do check-ins. I'll send just texts, letting them know I'm praying for them, send them a psalm or something.
How do you shepherd a multigenerational community when you know there are major differences in their means of worship stylistically?
I think this ultimately comes down to an issue of discipleship. When everybody's believing the gospel, when everybody's a disciple, it means that everybody's dying a little bit to their own preferences. So if you're in a church that has a multigenerational, multicultural context, if it's thriving, it's because everybody understands the gospel.
Part of what I bring to this community is giving something up. Part of what I do is actually serve my brother or sister before myself. And how do you cultivate that with your people? How do you actually live into that? I think that's a long term thing that’s ultimately about laying down our swords.
It’s also about having coffee with lots of people who you might disagree with, building those relationships and even hearing their stories. If you just listen to them without arguing or providing answers, that goes a long way.
How do you help others see worship as more than just music and singing on Sunday, but every aspect of our lives?
A lot of that can be helped by the way that you pray as you enter into a worship service and as you leave a worship service.
When I'm entering into a worship service, I like to pray and remind all of us that we’ve been worshipping even when before we walked into church:
“God, as we've been worshiping You throughout the week, now we ask that You would be with us as we have gathered to faithfully worship You.“
And at the end of the service I say:
“Lord, send us out to live lives of worship on mission so that, as we go about our jobs and as we tell others about Your name, we are doing so in honor and glory of You.”
Ultimately, you’re asking, what’s it like being a worshiper outside the walls of our church?
How do I engage the congregation more in worship? And how do I encourage people to be free to worship through lifting hands and not being worried about what their neighbor thinks of them?
I think the driving idea behind this question is: If we're trying to lead our people toward growth in a certain area, we need to lead in incremental steps.
Say we're wanting our congregation to grow in physical expression. I've heard it said that if you're a leader and you're leading too far out, you actually get perceived as the enemy. It's kind of like you're on a battlefield and you're far out in front of your people. And if you're too far out, people are like, is he with us, or is she with us, or is she against us?
I think that that holds true any time you want people to grow, especially when you're talking about physical expression.
What you want to do is say: If we're trying to get from A to Z, what are the steps in between? What are steps B, C, and D, and how can we do that for a few months and then grow in that over time?
How do you pastor people that are doing “churchianity” and have healthy relationships with them?
Right, first off, “churchianity” means just going through the motions of cultural Christianity, or checking the box at church attendance.
You have two ways of addressing this:
1. You could brow beat them
You can be prophetic and say negative things or speak words of condemnation on churchianity, which would be a biblical thing to do. There's plenty of words of condemnation.
2. Or you can show them a better alternative to “churchianity”
But the more winsome way is to actually put forth what might be exciting and compelling about something beyond that, and modeling that.
In my opinion, the second way is the best way. That’s the way I've gotten out of ruts in my own faith–by being surrounded by people whose love for Jesus and passion for Him are authentic and contagious.
So practically, for worship pastors that means you pursue those people and make sure to talk a lot about what your relationship with God means to you, what your relationship with God is like, and how a life of worship outside affects the way that you behave Monday through Saturday. There's certainly something contagious about sharing that in light about how that's affected you.
How do you get the congregation to see you as a pastoral role, not just the one they complain to about music?
I think it first starts with you. It's kind of owning that, what you do is pastoral, and then behaving in pastoral ways.
I think that as we behave and lead and teach and do what we do on Sunday mornings in more pastoral ways, our congregations will begin to perceive and receive that pastoral ministry.
Take the masterclass, read my book, and then I'll get you a little bit more into how you can reframe what you do.
I also think that there's a lot that can happen in between the worship services, in the moments during the week, which may involve more people time, especially if you've got those people that are complaining to you. Maybe they should be the ones that you're hanging out with, that you're actually pursuing.
Ask them a few of the following questions:
Who are you?
Tell me about your history.
Tell me about your walk with the Lord.
Tell me what's going on in your life
Starting these kinds of conversations begin to have pastoral ripple effects in your entire congregation.
As you can tell, Zac has so much great insight that's going to help us all as worship leaders, and he literally wrote the book on being a better worship pastor.
Find even more great material and insight by picking up his book, The Worship Pastor, here
Also, the team at Worship Leader School just wrapped up filming an entire masterclass for on this topic of worship with Zac which will train you to implement and develop the skills that I just wrote about.
I’d love for you to join us so you can grow yourself and your ministry.