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Church Sound: Stage Preparation—The Three Key Areas Of Importance

Paying attention to needs, safety and aesthetics

By Chris Huff February 7, 2013

This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.


The front of the church sanctuary is where all eyes are focused. It’s the place where the pastor presents the Word of God. It’s the place where the congregation is lead to worship in song. It’s the place where people kneel at the cross. It’s the place of most importance.

I believe it’s important to note the use of the word “stage” before going on. The room is the sanctuary. The place the pastor speaks from is the pulpit. But what do we call the place where the pulpit and musicians and choir are located? Generically, it’s called the stage.

In strictly church-specific terms, it’s called the chancel. I bring up the term chancel because I think it’s too easy to view the front of the sanctuary as “a stage where the musicians and pastor work” instead of how it should be viewed; “a place where God is worshiped.”

Working in a variety of churches over the last 23 years, I’ve done my share of stage preparation. Whether it’s been setting up the auditorium for a portable church or setting the stage at a large church, there are three key areas of importance; needs, safety, and esthetics.

Let’s break these down a bit further:

Needs. The stage should have all of the elements necessary to meet the needs of the church service. This includes microphones, cables, monitors, all of those audio needs typical thought of as important, as well as the elements the pastor needs such as objects for sermon illustrations. Everything on the stage has a purpose and there are a lot of needs to be met.

Safety. I like the word chancel for its respectful tone. However, using the word stage is a great reminder that it’s an active area, like a theatrical stage, where people are moving around. Therefore, you have to consider the safety of anyone who steps foot on the stage. From environmental safety (loose wires) to electrical safety (faulty equipment), safety must be a consideration in preparing the stage.

Aesthetics. Going back to the respectful tone of the word chancel, the front of the sanctuary is the place where all eyes are focused. It’s not a place for disorder. It’s a place of respect and therefore should be prepared as such.

Let’s break these areas down even further and look at practical application in stage setup.

Meeting the needs of the musicians would be ensuring they have the necessary equipment available, and in working order, so they can fully engage in leading worship. This means giving them the right microphones and cables for connecting to the system. It also means placing monitors in the best location so they can get the proper volume level on the stage without creating too much stage volume. Often, your stage work focuses only on this area.

Meeting the needs of the pastor and other people who speak on the stage would be ensuring they have the right equipment, know how to use the equipment, and know what to do if something goes wrong. For example, the pastor should have a wireless microphone which has been set and configured for their voice. It should have a fully charged battery in it. They should know how to turn it on and off if. They should know which stage microphone to grab in case their microphone goes out.

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About Chris

Chris Huff
Chris Huff

Chris Huff is a long-time practitioner of church sound and writes at Behind The Mixer, covering topics ranging from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians – and everything in between.


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