The future of church audio is not all pretty flowers and sunshine. A student recently asked me my thoughts on the subject and the more I dwelt on the topic, the more I saw that the future is not pretty.
Here is my view, why the church is destined for that direction, and what you and I can do to change all that.
I want to start by traveling back in time, specifically to 1896.
Frank Humphreys, a clergyman in the 1890’s, wrote a book entitled “The Evolution of Church Music.” The focus of the book was music, not audio production, however, the insight he provides at the time most definitely flows across into the view of modern day church audio production.
“We are constantly standing on the threshold of new discoveries; we are constantly opening up new and unexplored fields, and new combinations surprise and delight us, proving the inexhaustibility and endlessness of the gamut of musical expression.”
“For the soldier there is martial music to cheer him upon the march, to excite him to victory, or to rejoice in his triumph; there is music which invites us to the joy of the dance; there is the music of love, pure and impure; there is mirthful music to make us laugh; and there is the solemn music with which we follow the dead.”
“All these fitly arouse and express the ever-changing passions of man. Shall the music of the Church be less adequate to its consecrated purpose?”
Frank nailed it. Go to any venue of the performing arts, be it theater, a concert, or dare I even say opera and what happens when the audio production is bad? We complain.
Everyone complains! Now let’s move to the church environment and what is the result of poor audio production?
At some churches, there might be complaining. In some churches, no one complains because “it’s church and therefore it doesn’t have to be perfect.” The church body and church leadership have just allowed for the “less adequate.”
This “less adequate” mentality is more than just in the quality of production. Also, it’s in the quality of the environment.
Worship music has changed a lot in the last 20-30 years but the environments in which it’s performed are, by-and-large, the same. Sanctuaries that once provided wonderful acoustics for choir and organ are now blasted with bass amps, electric guitars, and huge overhead speakers without regard to the acoustic properties of the room. The result is often a bad sound due to the lack of acoustical treatment and improper equipment installation!
The “less adequate” mentality permeates all areas of audio production in the church! We are faced with churches lacking proper acoustic treatment to meet the demands of the room. To make matters worse, churches are spending more money on equipment while ignoring training, and sound guys are left to the winds of fate.
The current state of church audio is not good.