Some Sound Advice
I was first in church at the age of 3 days... I was raised in Sunday School, youth groups and regular ..and some not to regular church services. Today I am 44 and would guestimate my total number of church services attended to be somewhere in the high thousands in the last four decades.
A good many of those have seen me helping in some form or fashion and I have ran sound or played in a worship team for I'd guestimate around half of those services. Several thousand at least. In addition, I have been professionally trained in sound re-enforcement and I have what very few have these days, an actual God given EAR to mix and hear things well.
There is an old expression in Sound as it relates to churches.. "heart of gold , ear of tin". This refers to the well meaning person who is humbly willing to serve and finds himself/herself behind a mixing board without a clue as to what to do or worst yet, a person who THINKS they know when they really don't.
Complicating the issue is a foundational misunderstanding from most of the Pastors, Apostles and leaders I have walked with over the years as they believe their calling gives them authority that outranks wisdom in a given area. Re-read that again..slowly.. it's important to follow me there to understand the rest of what I am about to say.
Apostolic Authority gives you the power to assign and appoint people into certain positions but it does not give you the authority to take advantage of those people by undermining their ability to make their own, wisdom based decisions. Said a different way, good, strong leaders don't micromanage..they instead only put people in place that they can trust to function at a level that would best represent themselves and ultimately the Kingdom of God.
Example: Does the leader have the authority to tell a nursery worker to not burp her own baby who needs to be burped? Of course they have the authority, it's their church after all... but they have a lack of basic wisdom that the mother has to make that decision about her own child. Thus, it's not really an issue of authority, it's an issue of yielding to the mother's wisdom. That takes great humility from the leader to "get out of the way" and let that young mother do what she is best suited to do and not micro-manage the mother or the baby for that matter.
This begs the question of what to do if the nursery worker doesn't have the basic wisdom in place to do the job correctly and to that I would say she should not be elevated into that position to begin with. If you are going to anoint and appoint a worker in a given area, you need to be ready to let them flow in their function and if you are not ready to do that, save everyone the headache and do not appoint them yet.
Another example: Actual worship leaders are rare these days. Most Church leaders don't really want a full blown wide open worship leader to bring a life altering experience in God's presence weekly, they instead want the most bang for the buck they can get within the time frame allotted. In some churches thats as little as 20 minutes. Most Pastors today are looking for Song Leaders, not worship leaders. (I did a youtube video about the difference a few years ago that you can watch here.)
So churches hire or bring on a Worship leader and then put them in what I call "the time box" of saying "be done in 20, 30, 40 minutes.. however long... and to a song leader thats super easy, you just backtime the songs and wha lah, you're there.. but to a true Worship Leader, you function outside of the confines of time so putting a time frame on it in the first place already disqualifies you for true worship. This leads to the Worship Leader getting repeatedly frustrated week after week and in most cases finding some excuse to step down or even leave the church entirely. The unsuspecting Pastor is often taken by surprise by these sudden departures but those who understand the Kingdom of God dynamic going on see it coming from a long way off.
Something Musicians and Sound people often share is that they traditionally bring emotions forward into what they do by the very nature of their giftings and callings. While most would never think of interrupting the nursing mother, they don't mind interrupting the worship, in fact many times the interruption is even planned in advanced and sometimes referred to as "the time of transition". Its designed to "change gears" or get people out of worship and into a place where they will sit and listen to someone speak, teach, preach, etc. If you are trying to do a church, this is a necessity but if you are trying to pursue the Kingdom of God, worshipping Jesus IS the goal and manifesting His presence is the endgame of all Kingdom ministry.
The same is true with Sound and tech people as there is perhaps no greater amount of turnover in an area of more critical importance than in the areas of sound, video and tech based people. My personal experience is vast with this area and I have talked to dozens of guys and gals who left their churches because the people in charge wanted them to be button pushers instead of sound technicians. Said a different way, much like our nursery worker in the story above, of course the leader has the authority to make changes and adjustments because after all, it is their church... but it is an overreach and a sign of insecurity when that leader tries to step in and tell a sound person what adjustments to make in the middle of the service. Worse yet is when people from the congregation try to order the sound person around and tell him/her what to do.
Most tech people that leave a church would not have left if they were treated with the respect their gifting afforded them.
As a leader, we would never think it was ok to hire a lawn service to mow the grass and then have a line of congregation members all standing in front of the mower trying to tell the person mowing to adjust the deck of the mower or to mow in a different direction or to mow at a different speed. Even if you yourself had a background in lawn care and understood it, it will still be improper to hire someone to do the work and then try to micro manage their job as they are doing it. What IS proper if you feel something needs to be addressed is to address it after the fact or before it starts to begin with.
When I go into a given church, the first thing I do is meet with whomever the top leader is. In that meeting I ask several direct questions to try and understand what they are after exactly, IN sound and technical matters, if they just want a warm body to stand there so they can tell me what to do, I'm not their guy. In worship leading, if they just want a song leader that they can give a list to each week, I'm not their guy. I find that sitting down and having these conversations is critical to put everyone on the same page.
At the church I am currently serving in, I am in charge of the sound. Ultimately changes and the things that happen are my responsibility and I answer directly to the main guy who planted the church to begin with. How do I know that? Because that man told me so directly before I accepted the appointment. Now, MANY people there feel that they know more or better than I do about various areas or things..and a few truly do possess knowledge and skills that I do not yet posses.. but there is a protocol and a mutual respect that everyone affords everyone else. I never have to say "I'm in charge" because if the time ever comes where I have to say that, clearly I am no longer in charge and something is wrong.
The first week I started, I had a guy come up to me and with a stern disappointed look of judgement on his face tell me "It's too loud, you need to turn it down". Remember I had just started there and wanted to make a good first impression. I asked around about the guy, turns out he was someone everyone knew and was looked to as a prophet in the church by many with a deep heart to love and minister to others... and since that incident, I've gotten to know him a bit and he's a fairly nice guy. BUT, his breaking of protocol and trying to tell me how to do my job was wrong of him and a less mature person would have walked out. As I said, I know dozens of sound and tech people that have indeed walked out for similar situations when they were disrespected like that.
This is a longer blog today so in summary, churches are valuable, needed and to be celebrated. I love them, I and my family are plugged into one and I support many churches thru my talents, offerings and giftings.
After saying that, there is a big difference between building a church and building the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is unshakeable. Buildings can be torn down, the various leaders will come and go, but Jesus is the King of His own Kingdom and ultimately we are all His subjects. When you start to understand that at the foot of the cross we are equals, you will address people differently. The janitor who cleans the toilets will become just as important to you as the spirited worship leader you enjoy so much.
Often it is said that the day of the one man show is over. I disagree. I believe the day of the one man show is fixing to return to the earth, the difference is that this time the one man in charge of it all is going to be Jesus. It's one of the deepest keys to intercession and spiritual warfare.. once Jesus arrives, the battle is over.
Treat people with respect. Stop being so easily offended and learn to roll with things. God has a plan and there are many of us Kingdom folks in the earth right now just waiting on the release to do what he has called us to do. It probably won't build many new churches, but it will bring many into personal relationship with Jesus and bring Healing to the hearts, minds and bodies of the masses. Let your Kingdom come, Jesus...
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