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10 Things No One Tells You About Church Audio

9. Compliments are not the norm.

For anyone who needs regular compliments, look for a different line of work. The band and the pastor hear the majority of compliments. It doesn’t matter if the sound booth was glowing with awesomeness, the production team typically doesn’t get the credit.

10. It’s disgusting (someone has to clean those).

Parts of every job are undesirable. I love working with the musicians. I don’t love cleaning out ear wax from their in-ear monitors. But if given a choice between working a desk job and working in live audio (dirty work and all), I’d pick the latter every time.

What to Do About It

1. Study the system and make plans.

Trace the signal flow through the equipment, from the stage through to the house speakers. Make a log of equipment settings—equipment gets bumped or “played with.”

Create plans for dealing with worst-case scenarios. By knowing the system and what could happen, you’ll be prepared when it does happen.

2. See stage work, communication, etc. as factors that enable great mixing.

Church audio production is about working as a team with the pastor, the worship leader and the musicians to present God’s word to the congregation and lead them in worship. Mixing the house sound is important but so is supporting the musicians and meeting their needs. The production work isn’t about mixing, it’s about offering up a gift to God and the congregation.

3. Learn to manage distractions.

There are two types of distractions: those needing immediate attention and those that can wait. Let’s look at the latter. Questions from a congregant right before the service, or during the service, can be answered with a quick reply or the statement, “Ask me after the service when I have more time.” Smile when saying it. Beware of how the distractions make you feel. Watch what you say—you may later regret it.

4. Learn the spiritual component of church audio production.

A great mix doesn’t guarantee a great worship experience, but the flip side is really cool; a great worship time doesn’t depend on a great mix. I recall a service when my mix could have been better (it sounded a bit off to me). After the service, I heard someone say how great the band sounded and how much they enjoyed the worship time. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there will be worship, regardless of the level of production.

5. Catch the vision, delight in the vision and realize the vision.

Become the person who can make a vision a reality.

6. Not every person loves corporate worship.  

That’s a cold, hard truth I wish wasn’t so. Don’t take their lack of participation as a judgment on the audio production. And for the talkers … I don’t have much of an answer. If it’s anyone you know, consider dropping them a friendly email of encouragement filled with …

7. Plan on deeper study of mixing.

May every mix be better than the last. This isn’t to say the last mix was bad. It’s to say audio production is a craft, and a good craftsman will hone their skills.

If you are struggling with the fundamentals of audio production, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Audio Essentials for Church Sound.

8. Manage the stress.

Know what’s out of your control. Learn from your mistakes. Know that small mistakes are usually forgotten. Find a mentor or fellow tech for postservice debriefing and venting.

9. Rejoice!

Compliments to the band are compliments to the audio production. Going further, read Col. 3:23-24:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

10. Know the outcome is a result, in part, of the grunt work.

It took over 3,000 people 410 days to build the Empire State Building. This includes installation of approximately 17 million feet of telephone wire. Walking into the finished building would reveal beautiful carpeting and newly painted walls. What’s under the carpeting? Subflooring. What’s behind the paint? Drywall and metal.

What did I miss?

What do you wish someone would have told you? What resources would help other people reading this?  

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chrishuff@churchleaders.com'
Chris Huff is the author of Audio Essentials for Church Sound. He also teaches all aspects of live audio production, from the technical fundamentals to creative music mixing to keeping your sanity. Find out more at www.behindthemixer.com