Not too long ago, I wrote an article “Give Me a Great Mix or Give Me Death!” The article was in support of all the sound tech’s I know who have worship leaders who tell them how to do their job. Patrick Henry’s speech seemed like a great way to bringing acknowledgment and a bit of levity to the situation.
I received emails both for and against my article. Some said it was great, others said I crossed the line. Today, I asked another sound tech I respected for his thoughts on the article. Here is a bit of what he said:
“So did you go to far? I think it is a bit over the edge. I actually felt sad that such a situation even exists in a church. I am all for building up, not tearing down. Your encouraging messages, great advice, etc… that is the good stuff. It builds us up. And if problems exist, you can help direct people how to find solutions, or at least how to approach the problem. “
In light of his comments and careful consideration, I’ve pulled that article from this site. In my desire to bring a problem to light, I spent more time stirring up emotions and much less time talking about what to do about it. The article was NOT meant to perpetuate an unhealthy attitude by the sound tech. But that’s what it had the power to do.
In light of all that I’ve said, I want to add a few additional points that EVERY SOUND TECH SHOULD KNOW who is dealing with worship leader problems.
1. You and the worship leader are both working in ministry positions whose utmost goal is to honor God.
2. Any angry feelings you may have towards the worship leader should be dealt with in a healthy way.
3. You and the worship leader have the same goal in mind; produce the best sound as possible.
4. When the sound is great, the band hears about it. When the sound is bad, the sound tech hears about it. They hear it from the congregation members. But when the sound is bad, who does the lead pastor come down on? It should be the sound tech. But if it’s the worship leader, then maybe when he’s giving you suggestions, he’s really trying to make the lead pastor happy.
5. How much time do you spend with the worship leader? Are you friends? Do you respect each other? Does your relationship strain exist in a bible study you might have together? Make a point to be their friend. Not a false friendship but focus on your commonality. Love of music is likely a common trait. From friendship comes respect and understanding. All the better to learn from each other.
6. You might give suggestions to the worship team all the time (and some of that is just part of the job) and therefore, you must be prepared for getting suggestions sent back. Some might be good and some might not, given any person on stage doesn’t hear what you hear from your location. If your church has more than one worship leader, invite the one who is off that week to spend the morning with you in the sound booth. They will learn a lot. Teach them a few of the things you do during practice or at least explain what you do such as when to set reverb or how panning can give a fuller feel to a music mix. They need to understand your job isn’t as easy as it looks. I used to think farming was easy until I worked on a farm for a summer.
7. Recognize that both you and the worship leader have the same goal of producing a great sound but probably have different ways of thinking that should be done. In the end, it falls on you. Training and education should be ongoing in the profession of live audio. As I mentioned to someone the other day, when you stop learning your trade, you become obsolete. When a worship leader insists on his way of doing things, you can politely disagree, or perhaps the better choice…wait until a few days later and get together with him/her. Ask them how they want to sound. Ask them who is on their back if the sound goes bad. Ask them what they need from you. Then explain what you do. Explain your training, how much you study and read on a regular basis. And explain you are on the same team with the same goals. But do this in a manner that says “I love what I do so much that I’m always trying to be the best.” Don’t say it in a way that comes across as “I’m superior.”
8. When problems between the sound tech and worship leader escalate to a point where the division has arisen, then it’s time to call in a third party. It might be the lead pastor. It might be someone you both respect who works in music at another church. In the end, you’ll have to accept the results good or bad. I’m not calling you to rise up in the streets, I’m calling you to strive for reconciliation.
We must recognize our common goals and our common responsibilities. Where there is division, we must work with the right spirit to heal the relationship. And through all things, prayer. Where there is a division between the sound tech and the worship leader, the congregation will pick up on it. And we don’t want the congregation to be distracted from worship.