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Turn it down!!!

October 11, 2010

Matt Blick did a series on his blog on the subject of helping the congregation participate in our meetings, and I want to spend some time interacting with each of his twelve suggestions and see if I can squeeze out some more value from his ideas and share them as widely as I can.  This is number three of twelve. (some more of my own may follow, depends on how many people are still reading at the end of the series!!!)


Matt asks “How loud is too loud?” and gives some a really good suggestion for overall sound level in your meeting.

“If someone in the congregation can hear your voice perfectly but can’t hear the person singing on either side of them, you’re too loud. If they can’t hear themselves singing, not only are you too loud, but it’s possible you may be the single biggest reason for the lack of contributions in your church. May it never be.” May it never be, indeed!

I used to serve on the PA team (note to all aspiring worship leaders and musicians – this is a vital part of your learning and if you do not already serve on this team in your church, you really really should!!! It will do you lots of good in terms of learning  a servant heart when doing a thankless task, and it will teach you much about how the body works when it gathers to worship!) and learnt a lot about corporate worship, stood at the back seeing what was going on, learning to worship with my eyes open and trying to make the musicians sound good.  One time, one of the elders came back to see me  and had a word in my shell-like orifice.

“It’s too loud” he said.

“You what?!” I said.

“I can’t hear God” he said.

“You double what?” I said.

Bear in mind this dude is one of those uber-prophetic types (where’s my umelaut gone?) and so it was a real surprise to me that he would speak in those terms.

“If I can’t even hear what the person next to me is saying, how do you expect me to hear God? How do you expect the anchor to help anyone contribute? How do you expect him to communicate with the worship leader? And, strange as it may sound, I can’t hear the voice of God if the music is too loud. Turn it down!!!” he said, in love.

Turn it down I did, in fear and trembling!!!

Long story short, that is the impact the music can have on the meeting.  Why would anyone who can make a difference in this area wish this kind of effect on the body? (I can think of several reasons, but they tend to come across as thinking poorly of worship leaders, so I’ll keep them to myself for now!)

  • Turn it down until worshippers can hear the worship of those around them and be inspired to worship more.
  • Turn it down, so it is clear that you do not consider yourself the main attraction.
  • Turn it down, so that there is room for it to go louder when it will help matters.

Yes, you can turn it up sometimes as well!!!!   This is where my prayer for tech guys who know the Spirit of God and are worshippers at heart is worth praying long and often.  There are songs and times in a meeting when bringing the levels down quickly and sensitively is really helpful – someone is praying, singing a new song, giving a tongue or interpretation or a song has just ended and you can’t hear the congregation to know if they are lost in wonder or just lost.  And there are times when the volume will help matters – when the spirit of praise is rising, when some brave soul has started dancing (people don’t dance to quiet music, just like they don’t dance to slow music, or music that varies greatly in tempo), when the entire congregation is singing or shouting in tongues (giving the body the sub-conscious cue that this time of tongues is a group of individuals each expressing their praise to God for themselves rather than a tongue offered for interpretation – theology debate alert!).  A really good PA guy (or girl) will also be able to tell where the anointing is on individual musicians and adjust accordingly.  I have seen the effect of raising the guitar level up slightly when the band consisted of just an acoustic guitar and keys – the guitarist was playing in a particularly rhythmic style, the congregation began to clap and then to dance, then someone started “Celebrate in the Lord” and the place took off!

A Spirit filled PA leader will be alert to these tools, and use them to help a Spirit filled worship leader lead God’s people in Spirit filled praise of our great God.  That same worship leader will coach the PA guys in how they can best help the gathered church in their worship: and that same PA guy will do this anyway, even if the worship leader doesn’t know about it, and especially if he is one of those who wants it ramped up loud “so the Spirit comes” or “so I sound really good”.

Next time – “Chop your worship leader into tiny little pieces”  – oh, I can’t wait!!!!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. hazel permalink
    October 11, 2010 11:32 pm

    I do know what you mean. I have been in meetings where tthe move of the Spirit has been brought crashing to a halt by insensitive playing or talking by a worship leader – not by anyone @ Jubilee I have to say though. Its good to vary the pace and content and to encourage as wide an involvement as possible otherwise there’s a risk of ‘the usual suspects syndrome’ taking hold – with a resulting dryness or even apathy ensuing.

  2. Garry permalink
    October 12, 2010 7:33 am

    …and from time to time, turn it off.
    Best worship times in the past couple of years have been when the PA desk blew up, imho.

  3. Steve T permalink
    October 15, 2010 8:49 pm

    I like this. Not often you read about spirit-led PA-ing! I’m on board, and praying we’ll see the PA team grow in this…

    • October 16, 2010 8:19 am

      I’d be happy to share some more stories with them if you think it will help!

      Thanks for your comments, Tweed-ster

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