Darlene Zschech Interview
Episode 67

A Conversation with Darlene Zschech

I feel a great sense of responsibility.

Darlene Zschech Unveils the Heartbeat of Christmas and the Soul of Worship

In a candid and spirited conversation with Worship Leader Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Joshua Swanson, Darlene Zschech, the renowned Australian musician, songwriter, worship leader, and pastor, shares insights into her life, Christmas traditions down under, the state of worship music, and the heartbeat behind her recent songwriting. This intimate dialogue, captured on video, offers a glimpse into the heart of a woman who has left an indelible mark on the world of worship.

Christmas Down Under: A Unique Blend of Heat and Holy Moments

Darlene Zschech kicks off the conversation by unraveling the mysteries of an Australian Christmas. The beach becomes their sanctuary, where they sweat through a hot turkey meal, inspired by Hallmark movies. She paints a vivid picture of their unique Christmas tradition, where the juxtaposition of hot turkey and sandy beaches creates a memorable holiday experience.

Amidst laughter, Zschech shares her family’s not-so-epic nativity set, humorously acknowledging the reassembled baby Jesus, who bears the signs of a few mishaps. Her favorite Christmas dish, a delectable French creation made with puff pastry, caramel, and custard, adds a touch of sweetness to the festive season.

When asked about her favorite Christmas carol, Zschech passionately expresses her love for O Holy Night, particularly Josh Groban’s rendition. Yet, what truly captivates her during Christmas is the universal singing of scripture. 

Navigating the Currents of Worship Music

Transitioning to the state of worship music, Zschech delves into the cultural nuances that shape worship around the world. Drawing a sharp contrast between the persecuted church, where worship is a matter of life or death, and the comfortable Western world, she emphasizes the need for accountability to maintain the purity of worship.

Acknowledging the challenges that comfort poses to the Western Church, Zschech urges believers to stay hungry and avoid becoming complacent. She passionately advocates for the importance of the church body, emphasizing the need for open dialogue to uphold the purity of worship and prayer.

Sharing her involvement with Open Doors, an organization dedicated to supporting the persecuted church, Zschech sheds light on the sacrificial commitment of individuals like her husband’s cousin, Wayne, who prioritizes sharing the gospel over personal safety.

Worship Beyond Music: Living a Lifestyle of Worship

Moving beyond the confines of music, Zschech reflects on the concept of a “lifestyle of worship.” She narrates a poignant encounter with a young boy in Rwanda who challenged her to abandon the phrase in favor of simply calling it life. For her, living a life of worship involves maintaining a constant conversation with God, creating margin for the Holy Spirit’s leading, and fostering an environment where worship extends beyond musical rehearsals.

As Zschech articulates the essence of worship, she underscores the need to empty hands of worldly attachments, embracing a posture that aligns with Romans 12—a holistic offering of one’s entire being.

Navigating the Industry and Staying True to Worship

With a keen eye on the challenges within the worship industry, Zschech emphasizes the importance of compassion over criticism. Addressing the industry’s struggles, she advocates for pioneers who explore new avenues for artists to earn a living without compromising their convictions.

In a world that often pits generations against each other, Zschech challenges the older generation to champion and support the creativity of the youth. Instead of feeling threatened, she urges believers to create room for the next generation’s fresh expressions of worship.

Championing the Next Generation: A Call to Unity

Expressing her admiration for the younger generation’s no-nonsense approach to faith, Zschech lauds their demand for authenticity. She sees their creative contributions as a revitalizing force in the church, urging the older generation to make way for the vibrant ideas and expressions of the youth.

In a powerful call to action, she challenges believers to champion the next generation, fostering an atmosphere of encouragement and support. Rejecting the notion of a divided church, Zschech envisions a united body where each generation contributes to the rich tapestry of worship.

From Worship Leader to Pastor: A Journey of Surrender

As the conversation draws to a close, Zschech reflects on the unexpected journey into pastoral ministry. Recounting a pivotal moment with her husband, Mark, she shares their ‘Hineni’ moment—a willingness to say ‘yes’ to God before fully understanding His plan. The decision to pastor a broken-down church, marked by humility and a desire to set a table for everyone, became a testament to their commitment to a unique vision of church life.

In her closing remarks, Zschech expresses gratitude for the privilege of living in this pivotal moment of history. With unwavering faith, she envisions a church that operates like a family table, where all are welcome, heard, and fueled to go out and make a difference in the world.

Darlene Zschech’s conversation with Joshua Swanson offers more than a glimpse into her world; it provides a roadmap for a generation seeking authenticity, unity, and a vibrant expression of worship. As the heartbeat of Christmas and the soul of worship converge in this dialogue, Zschech’s life becomes an invitation to embrace the sacred dance of surrender, authenticity, and a pursuit of God that transcends cultural boundaries.

Please subscribe to our social channels for more information and great content surrounding building a lifestyle of worship. This podcast is brought to you by Authentic Media and Worship Leader Magazine. Our host is Joshua Swanson and the show’s co-producer and editor is Matt McCartie. More episodes can be found here.

Read the transcript here

Who is Darlene Zschech?

Darlene Zschech is an Australian Pentecostal Christian worship leader, singer-songwriter, pastor, author, and speaker. She is known for her work with Hillsong Church, where she served as the worship pastor from 1996 to 2007. She is also the co-founder of Compassionart, a charity that helps to raise money for orphans and widows.

Zschech was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1965. She began singing and performing at a young age, and by the time she was a teenager, she was leading her own band. She came to faith in Jesus Christ in her early twenties, and soon after, she began using her musical talents to lead worship in churches.

In 1996, Zschech joined the worship team at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. She quickly became a key member of the team, and her songwriting and leadership helped to make Hillsong one of the most influential worship teams in the world.

Zschech has written over 80 published worship songs, including the popular hymn “Shout to the Lord.” She has also released several solo albums, including “Kiss of Heaven” and “Change Your World.”

In 2008, Zschech co-founded Compassionart, a charity that helps to raise money for orphans and widows. The charity has raised millions of dollars and has helped to provide food, shelter, and education to thousands of children.

Zschech is also a gifted speaker and author. She has written five books, including “Extravagant Worship” and “The Kiss of Heaven.” She is a regular speaker at conferences and events around the world.

Zschech is married to her husband, Mark, and they have three children. She lives in the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

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