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Worship As The Ground Zero Of Pastoral Care (via Zac Hicks)

Picking up Will Willimon’s position that modernity has overly individualised and psychologised contemporary pastoral Zac Hicks points out a primary purpose of corporate worship, the neglect of which weakens both worship and pastoral care.

When we hear “pastoral care,” we typically think of one-on-one, gut-wrenching meetings between a pastor and a hurting congregant. We think of counselling session, hospital calls, in-home visits, praying for individual’s needs and presiding over funerals. These are all vital, indispensable care practices of any pastor. But the history of the church points us to a centre, a starting place for pastoral care. The pastors of early Christianity saw the core of their ministry to sick, hurting, wounded sheep happening in the context of leading worship. Worship is the ground zero of pastoral care. It is where all pastoral care rightly begins, and without it , all other forms of pastoral care lose their meaning and power. Before I show you why this is so, we need to address another question: How did we ever get to the place where we don’t think of worship when we talk about pastoral care?

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pg 123.

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The Living Heart Of Mission In Corporate Worship (via Zac Hicks)

Zac Hicks on corporate worship as true mission activity, perhaps in contrast to being evangelistic activity.

The symbiotic relationship between worship and mission means, first of all, that it would be unthinkable to ever replace corporate, gathered worship with missional acts of evangelism and community service, just as it would be unthinkable to remove a heart and simply tie the remaining veins and arteries together. Missional momentum halts when the heart of worship is removed. Second, if your church is struggling to be a truly missional body, worship must be a very real place of examination. Is the gospel clear and present in worship, or is it crowded out by other things? Ironically, our quest for a more evangelistic worship service, friendly and easy to swallow for non-Christians, has often muted the gospel in worship, rendering the service impotent of missional, transformative power. While we should always strive for worship to be intelligible and understandable to non-Christians, nothing short of prizing the gospel and making much of Jesus will create the kind of awe-inspiring zeal in the church that causes the watching world to cry, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:25).

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pg 100.

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A Balanced Diet In Worship For Long-Term Health (via Zac Hicks)

Week by week worship is informed by a long-term desire to grow the theological health of the congregation by a balanced and comprehensive use of sources.

There is a temptation in our jobs to operate solely within the week-to-week grind. Many pressures (some of them beyond us) make it hard for us to step out of this tyranny of the urgent. For the sake of pastoring people well, we must lift our heads above the weekly fray to develop habits of long-range planning and mapping our congregation’s theological diet in worship, especially with songs. Just as no one meal can contain the full gamut of nutrition, so it is impossible for every week’s service to incorporate the entire theological spectrum mentioned above. Long-range planning allows a pastor to see how a congregation is being broadly theologised over the course of weeks and months.

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pp 75.

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A Weekly Routine Wearing Daily Tracks Of Grace On The Soul (via Zac Hicks)

Zac Hicks writes about corporate worship training and equipping disciples of Jesus for their day to day life following Christ.

Part of [the church Hicks was attending at the time] weekly service structure was a rehearsal of repentance, a Confession of Sin and an Assurance of Pardon. Week in and week out, we would have a time in our service where we publicly spoke out a congregational confession, followed by a time of silent confession for each individual. These confessions were followed by the pastor declaring a scriptural assurance of our pardon, telling us our sins were forgiven because of the work of Jesus. Over time these weekly routines wore ruts into my soul, and I’d find them graciously haunting me the other six days of the week. I noticed that when I would stumble into sin, I had new instincts and a new inclination to confess my sin to God and preach to myself – really, to hear the Spirit preach to me – one of the verses the pastor would recite. I’d hear in my head and heart the words from our Sunday service: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 ESV) Our weekly worship gatherings were teaching me how to repent and apply the gospel to my daily life any and every time the waves of guilt would hit me.

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pp 57-58.

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Worship That Reminds The Church She Is A Community (via Zac Hicks)

Corporate worship not as individual experience in the gathered body, or as common experience among the many, but as a shared experience that reveals the relationships and community that exist in Christ.
From Zac Hicks’ The Worship Pastor:

Part of loving the church well is reminding her that she is a community. in our day and age, when worship has become such a subjective experience, the church is ever prone to hyperindividualising our faith and practice. We see this very tangible in worship services in which we’re all explicitly or implicitly encouraged to have our own private encounters with God. Sometimes we can get the impression that the most meaningful worship service looks like one in which each worshiper is having their own private devotional experience with God … and they just all happen to be in the same room! But as a pastor I once knew liked to say, “In worship, it’s not ‘Jesus and me’ but ‘Jesus and we.'”

The Worship Pastor, Zac Hicks, Zondervan, 2016, pg 26.