By Jenny Collins '05
Six years ago when Jamin Cousins ’08 left an internationally touring music and drama ministry to attend Northwestern, he didn’t know what to major in. But he felt God calling him to lay down music for awhile.
That obedience initiated a boomerang effect, where God brought music back into his life when he started leading worship at area churches and then found his way to Substance Church, a Twin Cities nondenominational multisite church plant of more than 2,000 people.
After graduating with a degree in management information systems, Cousins became the worship producer at Substance, named by Outreach magazine as Minnesota’s fastest-growing church and the 21st in the nation in 2010.
As the church’s only full-time staff member in the worship arts, Cousins oversees a team of 60 worship volunteers, organized into different bands at each campus. When he’s not managing the hefty spreadsheet to coordinate the weekend worship sets, his office functions as a recording and production studio, which is Cousins’ other passion.
“I’m paid to serve the worship volunteers,” said Cousins, whose position is both logistical and creative. “I don’t have to work another job, so I can make other people’s involvement work around their jobs. I’m not paid to be some worship rock star.”
His physical position on the stage reflects that dynamic. While many worship leaders are lead vocalists front and center, Cousins is stage right, in the back, on the keyboards and turntables. Yes, turntables.
REACHING THE UNCHURCHED CULTURE
On most Sunday mornings, he’s at the DJ booth, where he’s found a niche mixing the technical and youthful elements of having a DJ with live worship music—in a way that isn’t distracting. The distinct worship style is primarily Cousins’ influence, but it expresses Substance’s DNA.
“Our whole culture at Substance is oriented towards the people who are unchurched, de-churched, burned out,” said Cousins, who is married and has an infant son. He admits that many songs in the worship genre are only accessible to believers, which leaves context for unchurched people behind. “I’m all about songs that are rich with theological truth but packaged in a way that is profound, yet accessible.
“So many churches have this mentality that you can either have musical quality or a Spirit-led worship experience. That you can have depth or technical perfection. I think you can have both. I think it’s putting God in a box to say that God only works through [certain styles of] music. God has all the good music He needs up in heaven.”