Guest author Pastor Daniel Jepsen, my pastor, writes on church audio, apostle Paul, and gives thanks.
I am pleased to be able to write a post for Chris, who has been my friend and partner in the gospel for some ten years now. “Partner” is not a throw-away word here; I use it deliberately, for the main point of my post is that those serving in church audio partner with the pastors and musicians in declaring the glory of God and His ways.
The apostle Paul of course, talks about this partnership using the illustration of the human body. The parts of the body have different functions, but the same overall purpose: life. Or, to put it another way, the parts of the body have different proximate goals, but the same overall goal. Likewise, the function of the audio technician in the church is not identical to the function of the worship leader or pastor, but our ultimate goal is the same: that God is lifted up, and His Kingdom is built.
From my vantage point, the church audio technician provides the way for two things to take place in this regard.
First, he or she provides clarity for the message. That is, it is through his or her skills (and the equipment) that the message of the sermon and the songs is able to be communicated to more than a handful of people. Without the right amplification and mixing, the message will not be heard, or it will not be clear.
Secondly, the audio technician also provides beauty. Among the many characteristics of what we describe as beautiful or lovely are the traits of symmetry and balance. As soon as more than one musician is on stage, the sounds of the various musicians must be balanced and mixed in a way that allows them to complement each other, and not overwhelm each other or be muddled together. The balance and symmetry thus produced becomes pleasing to the human ear, and this allows the songs to affect the emotions (and through them, the will) more deeply.
In light of these two things, what are some suggestions for church audio from a Pastor’s point of view?
First, do what you can to minimize distractions. Buzzes, feedback, dead mics and other issues are part and parcel of audio magnification, but definitely take away from both the clarity and beauty described above. I am fortunate that in our church these are only a memory, but it is that way because of the hard work of Chris. Do what you can to eliminate these things.
Secondly, remember that beauty is found when the parts of the audio complement each other well, and this includes the vocals of both the singers and the congregation. I have been in many churches where the instruments were so loud you could not hear the voices of the worship leader or other singers. Or, more commonly, you could not hear the voices of the other members of the congregation. To me, hearing other believers joining me in worshipping God is very meaningful, and reminds me that I am part of something much bigger than myself. Since Paul tells us to sing to each other with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, (Eph. 5:19) this is more than my opinion.
Lastly, remember the unique dynamic of the sound technician: it is best when people don’t even think of you. You have done your best work when no one recalls a thing you did, because they were focused on what they were singing or hearing. I know this can lead to feeling unappreciated. But each area of ministry has it special area of frustration; and when we deal rightly with that frustration, it becomes a way we grow more like Christ. In this case, feeling unappreciated and un-noticed can make us reflect on how many things God and others do for us every day that we neither appreciate nor notice. It can lead us to grow in showing appreciation to Him and others. It can lead us to a deeper commitment to serve without human applause, in all areas of our lives. In other words, the very frustration can make us more whom we are meant to be.
Doing your job with diligence, love and humility will be a huge blessing to your church and to the Kingdom. You are part of the greatest gig going: to declare the incredible message of God to human ears, and let human hearts return praise to this God. As a pastor, I say to you: thank, you, thank you for your partnership in the ministry.
Daniel Jepsen is the pastor at Franklin Community Church where he can be found preaching, teaching, and encouraging. He recently completed a size-able church renovation project when he moved his desk from the north side of his 8×15 office to the south side of the office. Rumor has it that Pastor Dan enlisted another person to help but no evidence exists. And yes, he does have a great sense of humor.