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Church Sound: Mistakes Worship Teams Make That Can Compromise Services

10 common errors that span a wide range of elements, but all sharing the same bottom line...

By Kent Morris July 27, 2016

The mistakes worship teams commit while approaching God do not preclude His presence, but they do erect obstacles to the flow of the Holy Spirit.

Here, then, are 10 common errors churches can avoid in the pursuit of God:

1. Turning minor mistakes into public spectacles. When a vocalist forgets to turn on a wireless microphone or a technician commits a track cueing error, the worst thing a worship leader can do is to proclaim the mistake to the entire congregation.

If the audience didn’t notice, why bring it up? And, if it was an obvious error, then everyone already knows about it.

Far from being a way to humanize the proceedings, public notifications only hinder the work of the Spirit and demoralize the person responsible. It’s better to go on with the service and discuss the incident in the context of love at a later debriefing.

2. Playing too much. Some musicians live to play and feel compelled to use every chord they know each service.

Just as too many cooks spoil the broth, so does too many notes spoil the song. If each segment can be given some air to breathe in the form of silence around the song, then each part that is played takes on added value and weight.

Ed Kerr says it best, “Make every note you play count toward the goal of communication and away from a focus on your ability.”

3. Playing too loudly. Worship “wars” are known for their resounding barrage of noise.

The goal of the band should not be to destroy the congregation’s hearing, but to play music that encourages the audience to participate in a journey to the throne of God. How loud is too loud is a question each team must answer based on the culture and circumstance of the local assembly.

However, a rule of thumb is to keep the stage level low enough that unamplified voices can be at least partially understood from a one-foot distance. The house mix level should be below 95 dB-A average response.

4. Choosing inappropriate material. I recently attended a worship service designed for 40-year-olds that incorporated a musical style more appropriate for 20-year-olds. While the audience seemed to appreciate the band’s efforts, they never became engaged in the proceedings. There were, though, a few “Gen Xers” in another room who were drawn to the sounds emanating from the sanctuary.

As a church consultant, I’ve been asked to referee many battles between the old and new, and have discovered the new is more readily digested when coated with cues from the old. No one wants to be outmoded, and there will always be someone who lives to hear Journey-esque music performed by a Steve Perry wannabee.

Keeping everyone happy is one way to direct people to Christ.

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