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Church Sound: How Many Hats Do You Wear?

Delivering a solid technical performance -- regardless

By Gary Zandstra November 19, 2013

I find an increasing trend is occurring in the smaller church arena. The sound person is no longer just the sound person. As video projection has become very affordable, the sound person is now also the “PowerPoint” person. 

This person (the “AV guy”) has to not only be concern about the quality of the mix, but also whether the right words to a song are on the projection screen.

What has happened is the expectation for great music and production has pushed all the way down to small churches. “Mega” churches usually have multiple people on staff to handle all of the technical production elements. These churches also seem very willing to contract (pay) outside professionals to “make church happen.”

The mid-sized church (500-1,500) has moved to multiple volunteers that handle different disciplines of the technical area (sound, lighting, and video) and will have a technical director (sometimes paid, sometime not) that oversees all of the production elements. 

This technical director will make sure all of the volunteers are scheduled and also trained on equipment. Additional responsibilities often include making sure that the equipment is in working order and acting as technical producer for worship services.

Meanwhile, many of the parishioners of the smaller church (500 or less) have attended a worship service or production at a mega or mid-sized church and thus the expectation level is raised. That expectation rightly or not is then placed on the church sound operator, now the AV guy.

This person must now not only make sure that everything is working properly; he/she also has to execute operation at the level of the larger churches that have full time staff. This is obviously not an easy task for a one-person band, often also working with inferior equipment.

Is it fair that parishioners of a small church expect the same quality of production as they’ve experienced at a larger church? I believe that on a certain level the answer is yes. 

I’m not referring to production elements like moving lights, slick pre-produced videos and such. Rather, I’m talking about delivering excellence.

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About Gary

Gary Zandstra
Gary Zandstra

Consultant, Dan Vos Construction, Writer for Worship Facilities and ProSoundWeb
Gary Zandstra has worked in church production and as an AV systems integrator for more than 35 years. He’s also contributed numerous articles to ProSoundWeb over the past decade.


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