We have a congregation of around 400 + believers. I believe that it is the responsibility of a worship pastor / leader to take the congregation to the throne of God where He can meet His people. Its a huge responsibility and which is impossible to bare alone. In this era full of technology, we relay so much on that even to serve God. But what if the skilled people denies to render their support.
I face a lot of problem with my sound team. Some times the cables are not working sometimes the stage is not ready, the sound check is not done the mix is not properly set, the list is on and on and on, which really put the music team for a toss. The efforts and the practices are in vain which has been put to have a better service. All the efforts of talks and relationship management has found no meaning. Is it normal or something is seriously wrong ? Please through your inputs and share your experiences.
It's kind of tricky. Questions arise:
1) Are the guys running sound etc technically up to the job (consider training or writing simple guides)?
2) Is the rig too complicated/unreliable/badly designed?
3) Are people 'fiddling' with the PA etc between practice and main use (happens to us a lot in a multi-use hall)?
4) Is there a lack of organisation/planning that doesn't give the sound guys enough time to sort things? Sometimes there's just never enough time to fix things on a Sunday, & someone needs to spend a couple of evenings sorting hardware.
5) Is someone trying to show 'who's boss' by ensuring things keep going wrong?
My suggestions would be to take a step back and look at the situation in overview. If cables/other hardware is an issue then they should probably be replaced en masse and all checked/tested good. If there's not enough time to get the stage set up then someone needs to be identified to go in and get things ready. It may just be that (as I've had sometimes - I ran sound here for a bit) having the sound man turn up at 10.50 for an 11am start isn't enough time.
Remember that the technology must serve you - not you it! Churches can be terrible for this, with the song projection software (as an example) sometimes forcing worship into pre-determined patterns and completely controlling the way worship is lead. Consider simplifying until you get everything working reliably, then add musicians etc gradually while maintaining stability. 400+ people can worship happily to just a guitar and 1 singer.
FWIW I've played in a fair number of different venues, and it should be possible for a worship team to turn up 1 hour before, load in, set up and run through a couple of songs with a PA already in place. If the same band were setting up from scratch in unfamiliar surroundings then I'd allow up to 2 hours before. The last church I was part of, we'd have to get PA out of storage every time, and would normally get there at about 3pm for a 4pm meeting start. Generally I'd expect load in, set up & tuning up to take 30min, followed by 15min checking everyone was OK with the songs for that afternoon, including running through stuff they wanted to go over. That would leave 15min for a comfort break & praying before the start. Think about how a bar band would handle things, then add/subtract the worship-specific aspects (you project words but probably don't do fancy lighting).
BTW it IS normal for equipment to occasionally fail. For example in the present set up everything is old, well used and run on the cheap. Occasional failures happen and are accepted with grace as a part of running things lean. OTOH If I'd spent $10,000 on a sound system (I'd see that as a LOT of money, though nothing compared to some churches) then it had better be perfect 95% of the time.
Once again let me say - make technology serve you. If it is too complicated/unreliable then simplify or minimise.
BTW IS there friction between you & the sound people? Your post mentions technical problems, rather than tensions. If personalities are the problem then try to help the sound people see they need to serve the worship team - or better yet, actually BE part of the worship team - rather than vice versa (as is often the case).
Please read the response which I had given to Carl as well. The response is for you as well, it will help you to understand the situation a little bit more . Regards.
Toni pretty much covered it all.I don't know what sort of structure your church has, but our "worship" team consists of musicians and sound techs. I know it's easier to do that when you're a smaller church like ours, but doing so helps the tech team realize that their job is just as important as the musicians. It also helps to avoid the "us" vs. "them" mentality, since we're all on the same team...both literally and figuratively.
Thank u Carl for your thoughts.
I thinkt I should make myself a bit more clear on the situation. Our church is a very unique church. Its a non denominational church, v have people from all denominations and I love that. We are firm on scriptures. Our church is headed by a leading organization which is entering into the church plantation now. Hence there are lot of issues related to the politics of organization, etc, which is certainly effecting the growth and ministry of the church. Few people who are related to the organization are the part of church ministry too.
We do not have the expected support from the leadership. Though I am responsible for the sound and worship, the people who are handling the sound are not willing to regard my words nor to take my suggestion and act on it, when I tried to speak to the sound team to reduce the frictions, they talk so well in front of me but the moment I am out they spill their venom. Some times they change the mix which was set, right in the middle of the service, they reduce my level and increase the back up vocals and many other things. All this looks so childish to me, however it is effecting the ministry of the church and church and my personal growth. The leadership knows about it yet not willing to take any firm step and warn them. Leadership expect me to handle everything without being harsh and I have no idea how can I do it.
Having been behind the mixing board and also up front, I can identify with what you are saying on several levels. I don't mean to defend them, but I have to suggest that some mixing boards are set up so that if you change the fader that affects the main mix, it also changes the monitor levels. This is extremely annoying for us musicians, and it is something that I hate with a passion.
Another aspect is that even though the quality of sound is extremely important, including our monitors, we need to keep in mind that our monitor levels is low on the list of priorities and we should as much as possible, try to not let it affect our ability to worship. If the sound out in the main mix is awful and affecting the congregation's ability to worship, then we have a larger issue.
However, I don't mean to belittle your concerns - I get the feeling that they aren't as innocent as one would hope they'd be.
I don't want to be judgemental, I will be the first to admit that I don't know all the facts. But based on what you are telling me, if that were my church and it was exactly how you explain it, I would warn them if they don't straighten up really soon, I will be training a whole new sound team. The Bible says in James, "Let your yes's be yes and your no's no." And there's that other verse that says it is better to not commit to doing something and then doing it than to commit to doing something and not doing it. (That's a very liberal paraphrase and I can't remember the reference, sorry.) If they are not obeying the leadership placed over them (you), they need a reality check. Of course, I don't consider this harsh because I'd be giving them a warning, and it would have to be done in love, not during a time when I am frustrated and angry. It's not just about you, what they are doing is affecting the entire church (or at least it seems that way based on what you are saying). Suppose you didn't take your job seriously and played/sang out of tune and thought that was good enough?
I think I'd go with Carl on this.
Church isn't a game, and it's not like an office where you can play at politics. It's about love, family, mutual submission and honouring each other. If they won't come on board then you're better off with willing volunteers who serve from their hearts than experts who deliberately mess things up.
One thing you might be able to try: is it you in particular they have a problem with? If so, how about finding someone they respect and who also will respect you to head up the sound team? That way may give you an acceptable compromise. Just a thought.
Thank You Toni.
The Problem is not me in person its the whole music team. Its not only me who are targeted but the majority of the music team, the musicians vocals, most of them.
Warning them, as you have suggested, as I had mentioned I had done it on the personal level and also with the higher leadership, yet the result is same. As I had mentioned that the organizational politics is involved a lot in our church. In spit of the rift, which is even known to the higher leadership, I am still expected to provide a better worship and sound. One more thing, we do not have a digital board, we still use an analog board. I hope you know that I hail from India.
With all this happening, I understand and see no hope, and in our hopelessness HE becomes our hope. Hence, we, the music core team have decided to meet for prayer once in a week and prayer just for this issue that God can intervene and change the situation. This is our prayer that the political scenario of our church would change, that our focus may shift from personal to heavenly, from human to Godly, from individual to corporate. May be you too can join us in prayer, we have heard and read the power of prayer now lets experience the same power.
I can say that running sound is a challenge as I'm also one of the sound techs in my assembly. The problem is that I generally know how to tweak and run the stuff better than my sound team.
- One thing we notice is that whatever the mix is during rehearsal, it's never like that during the live set. This is because of different room conditions. A good sound team knows how to adjust for that on the fly. An OK sound team knows to leave it that way and let rehearsal be a little loud.
- Stuff goes bad. Period. No sound tech can prevent it, but they can show some degree of skill by knowing how to handle the situation.
- Sound techs shouldn't have the final say for the mix, only for the overall volume. In other words, if we want the piano to stand out, that's our call.
All this being said, I stood in for the sound techs this past Sunday and I thought, "it's been a long time. boy would I rather be up there leading music than back here running sound..." It's a fairly pressured role and you tend to get blamed for any and every thing that could go wrong.
But the one most important thing: "the list is on and on and on, which really put the music team for a toss". When you say that, it tells me that you are put off balance by technical issues. You have to flex and be able to adjust. If you get up during rehearsal and things aren't ready, rehearse vocal parts with your acoustic instruments. This can go on and on, but there is no reason to let the lack of readiness on the sound tech's part become your problem.
Learn how to be professional and make the show continue. Find the bottom line where you know you can function and be prepared to go there on a moment's notice. It can save you. I've found myself leading solo with my acoustic guitar and a mic. I'm ready to again if necessary.
Thank you for your response.
Please read my last post where I have mentioned that I am expected to use all the music instruments with the sound and not a solo leading. I think one point which you mentioned about not depending on them for the cables or the stage not ready, etc, in fact that is what of lately we have started doing.
I agree with you on the other point which you have made on the sound conditions being different in the empty and full hall, the point is not the practical difficulties, I fully agree that it is a very difficult job to maintain the same mix and provide a good and satisfactory sound, but what if someone deliberately want to spoil the sound and do not want to support the music team, want to mix according to what they feel is good and don't want to follow the worship leader. The people who are on sound have no real experience nor technically qualified but the way their behavior is its very immature and unprofessional. I am unable to understand that how can someone would compromise with their heavenly calling and ministry. I think God deserves our best, and our best is whatever I know, not what I can learn in future or learning. He wants what I have and not what I will get in future. But what when someone, instead of making things better and giving their best, spoils the things deliberately.
Its hard to believe may be but this is what I am facing now. I feel lack of commitment and professionalism could be some reasons for it.
What do u think ?