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July 19, 2005

Hug a Church Sound Engineer

If you are or have been your church’s sound engineer, you will sympathize with this post. My favorite of the list:

• 7 - the thickness (in inches) my skin must become in order to enjoy running sound
The churchgoer often has no clue what engineers go through. I often fielded competing complaints from parishioners. One pastor would say, “I can’t hear the piano.” I’d smile and turn a knob as a token gesture. Moments later, another pastor would approach me and tell me that he thought the piano was too loud.

Our services are held in a gymnasium and one particular pastor (no longer at our church) insisted upon using a completely unpredictable and rather cheap wireless headset mic. He refused to arrive early enough to sound check his mic to boot!

One service seared into my memory, he stood at the podium in front of 3,000 people and yelled across the gym, “I’m not saying another word until this feedback problem is fixed!” “Well, numbskull”, I felt like responding, “I can’t dial in the mic unless you speak and if you would have come for a sound check, you wouldn’t be in this mess!” Of course, I said nothing of the sort and instead pretended to turn dials until he gave me another signal to process and after a few awkward moments, I had him notched.

The sound booth is an often thankless ministry. You know you have succeeded when no one notices that you are behind the board. And when you fail? Well, everyone knows because you see it in their face as they turn around and give you that look. But it’s usually not one or two looks – it can be dozens or hundreds.

When I got in the record business, my head wasn’t quite on straight. Yet, God in His goodness and mercy used that time to teach me the art that quickly became my passion and outlet for worship through service following my submission to Christ. If you can take the heat dispensed by the church at its ministers of sound, I suppose you can take all types of heat thrown at you by the world.

Time has not been my friend lately, with family, work and school taking priority, but I hope to be back in that sound booth again some day.

Posted by Rick at July 19, 2005 08:00 AM

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You guys do a great job. I'm surprised at the quality of sound in that gym.

Posted by: Glen at July 19, 2005 11:04 AM

I've been leading worship in our church for the last couple of years and we meet in a school. The sound system is enough of a challenge in a normal church setting but is an even bigger challenge when it's being moved every week. I have a great appreciation for anyone willing to take on this thankless job. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

Posted by: Tom Parsons at July 19, 2005 11:18 AM

Hey! Ive been in our churches sound team for axactly 6 years now. Ive had all the kinds of problems,from mics to amps,and even audiunce members. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone and you are not doin for your self.

Posted by: Dwain at August 15, 2006 08:44 AM