expressive worship

Homogenization: Good for Milk, Bad for Worship Teams

Homogenization can be good. It helps preserve and bring a consistency to things; as a consumer you know exactly what to expect. But for a worship team and a church, homogenization can be the kiss of death.

A couple of years ago, I was teaching at a worship event in Seattle. There were over 6,000 worshipers there. The team onstage was playing it safe. They played the songs correctly. The arrangement of the songs were played just as they had been recorded and published. And the correct words were put on the screen as usual.

But, I sensed people wanted to do more than just sing songs with great words on a video screen behind the musicians. They wanted to enter into worship!

Now, there WAS worship going on that night, don’t get me wrong. But I believe there is more. I believe there can be a worship where we enter into the presence of God and it changes hearts!

The sad thing is so many worship teams don’t believe this – or they just don’t know it. They simply follow what everyone else is doing. We listen to Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, the great worship teams out there that have recorded and led worship. We try to duplicate them, because we think that’s what we’re supposed to do.

I disagree.

The next day after that Seattle event, I got on a flight to Phoenix to work with a Christian recording artist on his material. I went to his church service that Sunday night, and their worship team sounded exactly like the worship team in Seattle.

I wanted to walk up and say “how did you beat me here?” It might as well have been the same worship team…but this worship team was filled with Hispanic artists who had been raised on Spanish rhythms and melodies in the Catholic church. Instead of expressing that freedom, culture, influence, and musical style, they were trying to become someone else they had heard.

I was sorely grieved. I saw the potential to reach out and create something unique and lead people into the presence of God in a unique way. But instead it had become homogenized.

If you believe the providence of God has placed us in certain places and cities for a reason, then your worship teams should not become homogenized. We’re not the Gap, we’re not McDonalds. We should be more like a niche store that attracts the people in our neighborhoods.

If we’re going to have an effect on our world and truly lead people into worship, then we need to allow ourselves to use the uniqueness God has given us.

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Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson, world renowned Live Music Producer, helps musicians and worship teams develop songs into “unique worship moments.” His Live Music Methods help create freedom in the room so your congregation can express their worship more freely and passionately than ever before! Tom has worked with nearly every genre from rock to pop to Christian Gospel, impacting major artists and worship leaders such as Jars of Clay, Casting Crowns, NewSong, Sidewalk Prophets, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Todd Agnew, Phillips, Craig & Dean, Parachute Band, The Martins, plus a multitude of independent artists.

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  1. Dan says:

    Great post Tom!! It seems like we are trying to be like Hillsong, instead of being our own unigue selves.

  2. Dan says:

    I mean “unique”…lol

  3. Randy says:

    Amen! Tom, I know you’re very interested in why. Why helps you do your job better. I’d like to offer 1 reason. Many are talented in hearing and copying. Few are gifted with creativity. Meaning to be able to envision and create. Its homogenized because this is what the majority of musicians & singers are comfortable and capable of doing.

    Generally speaking, show me a team that’s writing and performing their own material and I’d say you have a better shot at success at what you do. The average team simply does not have the mindset to envision and create the moments you’re want then to make. At best they are only copying the very things you’re teaching.

    I’m not trying to be negative. I’d like to find the answer myself! If I can make people understand and be creative I can take your principles, and expand them, and perform them.

  4. Andrew says:

    Well said Tom. I agree! Freedom in worship! One of the things I teach our worship team is – the CD is the reference and foundation of learning the song. Then we can take it wherever we want to once we got the foundation. Dynamics!

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