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Posts Tagged ‘Teachers’

Church Sound and the Gospel

Posted by jdbsound on January 28, 2019

The goal of any worship space and the church sound system is not about loudness, gain before feedback, intelligibility, special sound effects for the organ or choir, having the most talented performers in the worship team, how many wireless mics, number of channels the mixer has or the name brand of equipment you have. The goal of a church worship space and the sound system is to be a safe place where the Gospel can be presented clearly and with little to no blemishes. Where every person within the worship space can hear and understand the Gospel as clearly as when having a conversation with someone only 4 feet away and sharing the Gospel. Anything less than that goal means that the spoken word can be corrupted in the journey between the minister’s mouth and ears of all those who are listening. The Gospel needs to be broadcasted and understood as clearly as reading God’s written words.

If your church has hot spots, dead spots, good sound in these seats and poor sound in those seats, then the Gospel is not being presented equally to everyone. If your sound system has technical problems during worship often, then it is a distraction, and it can make the difference of understanding something important.

The chart below shows tangible results when your worship and sound system are tested. There should be three tests.

The first is with a test speaker. It is a point source speaker that is small enough to mimic a person’s voice.

The next test is feeding a signal directly into the sound system and test those results. This test is just about the playback quality of your sound system.

The third test is to use the test speaker 30 inches from an open microphone such as a pulpit or any microphone on a stand and test the combined results of the worship space’s acoustics direct interaction of the sound system and open mics. You can also do a second version of this test and place the test speaker 4 inches from a microphone where the microphone is 45 degrees off axis.

If all three tests are not in the Yellow section, the results will let you know if it is your sound system, the acoustics or all of the above.  This is also a better indication predicting if upgrading your sound system will improve the results you are looking for. This is also a strong indicator that your worship space needs some kind of an acoustical management system

sti alcons chart conversion

You can get your church tested. It doesn’t cost much, and the results can save a life or many lives, depending on your point of view. As an independent consulting company, we offer church testing and results with no obligation to use our services in the future.

Share your comments.  Was this article helpful?

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Church Ceiling Height Chart

Posted by jdbsound on December 26, 2018

There are three key parts to what happens in church worship.  There is the spoken word, there is collaborative/congregational singing, and there is performance singing.  For a worship space to support these three events where speech is first, then congregational singing and performance singing, you need a specific design and dimensions to support these functions well.  High-quality speech should not come at the expense of the music.  Music should not come at the cost of speech.  There is a balance and part of that balance is to have enough ceiling height to support both speech and music in a contained space. 

Unfortunately, churches these days are building lower and lower ceilings in their worship spaces.  A person can assume that when so many churches have experienced only poor quality acoustics, many wonder what is the point of building a taller worship space. 

When a church builds a low ceiling, it limits congregational singing and it makes you more dependent on technology, but guess what!  The same things that limit congregational singing are what also limits the performance of the technology we affectionately call the sound systems.  So, instead of getting 100% out of your high quality overpriced expensive sound system, you’re getting only 40 to 60% of the sound systems true performance abilities.  It is actually cheaper to build higher than the added cost of un-needed audio technology to make up the difference.   The chart below should clear the air as to the minimum height your next church should be. If you can afford to build higher, do it.  Also, a taller worship space does not mean being stuck with longer reverb times. A higher ceiling means natural room reverberation can be adjustable and tune-able.  With a taller ceiling, you can change the frequency response of the whole room without needing a sound system or equalizer.

Minimum Church Ceiling height Chart.JPG

Church height is important for a worship space.  One of the biggest parts of worship is singing.  Congregational singing to be specific.  When singing as a group, several elements are required for a good and healthy worship experience.  There is chorusing, harmony, sound volume or loudness of the singing and being able to hear yourself as well as the people around you.  When all of these elements are in balance, the worship experience is like no other.  The majority of people get a lot of satisfaction from the singing experience during worshiping in rooms that have ceiling heights that match the size of the seating capacity of the worship space. The above chart are minimum interior ceiling heights.  If you want to build higher, you can as the singing experience gets even better but the improvement is more subtle.

High ceilings allow for better sound system performance with less expensive sound equipment. (A lot of pro audio contractors, installers and equipment manufacturer don’t like hearing this.)  Higher ceiling permits better gain before feedback and it becomes easier to isolate drums and floor monitor. The performance of the sound system is much better too when that is coupled with a good quality acoustical management system.

There are economic advantages too.  The higher the ceiling, the cheaper it is to heat and cool when using a vertical displacement HVAC type system which is specifically designed for large gathering spaces for people.  Such systems cost less to install, they use smaller HVAC components and cost about 30 to 40% less to operate.  In addition, the cooling systems last 2 to 3 times longer before needing to be replaced.

Another thing to consider. If building new, don’t build a flat ceiling that is parallel to the floor. (and it doesn’t count of you put in a sloping floor.)  Many churches that are moving into commercial buildings are learning the hard way that flat ceilings limit the quality of live musical performances and congregational singing.  Sure, there are acoustical panels that can slightly improve the room for amplified sound, but the cost doesn’t justify the returns.  There is little that can help congregational singing even if you have the height. Vertical standing waves are harder to manage than a horizontal standing wave. If you know what you are doing, horizontal standing waves can be controlled to create an outstanding room.  It is part of the formula for that perfect worship space.  Funny though, most concert musicians that perform in a church that I have fixed, they often make comments like, “I wish our concert hall sounded and performed as well.”  That is almost like saying, “concert halls make for lousy worship space but worship spaces can perform better than a concert hall.”

*Note* In most countries that have freedom of religion laws, the worship space portion of a church building has no roof heights limits regardless of local city building height restrictions. 

**Note** The data is based on 2800 churches from North America, Europe, Philippines and Central and South America. 

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A Rant about Church Bible Studies and Mid-Week Meetings!l

Posted by jdbsound on May 14, 2015

I know I’ve had my head buried in the sand successfully getting people to come to church on Sundays.  Better acoustics and better sound does indeed equal more people coming to Sunday worship but what ever happened to the mid-week meetings where people can study the bible and have open discussions? Where do people go if they want something more than just Spiritual Milk and Pablum as what is mostly taught on Sunday mornings?  What do you do if you want to add some spiritual meat into your diet?

In recent years I have started looking at church bulletins, their web sites and have spoken to many church pastors.  Since I travel so much, it has been hard for me to get out to my own church but I do get to speak to other fellow Christians all the time.  Couldn’t help noticing that the most common thing missing from many churches is the mid-week meetings for adults.  Cell groups were popular for a while but they seem to be disappearing as well.

When the question about mid-week meeting was put to some pastors they gave some of the strangest answers ever.  In their replies they say things like, “You’re supposed to feed yourself” or “you can’t control those in the midweek meetings as it seems they all have secret agenda’s.”  or “I don’t have time to lead it.” or “people are too burned out for mid-week meeting with all of their other non-church activities” and so on.

Then I started asking ordinary church members if they would go to a mid-week bible study.  Most said yes and some liked the idea of a later evening study time between 8pm and 10pm rather than programs starting at 6:30 or 7pm.  Late enough for one of the parents to slip out after putting the kids to sleep and not so late to get up early the next morning.  Where it would be a social time as well as a study time, where a light snack and something to drink would be included.  Where it could be in a person’s home or in a room other than the worship space unless the worship space is the only room large enough to gather in.

Has social media, which I don’t use much, replace the need for human interaction?  Am I being old fashioned about how churches were growing 30, 40 years ago?  Is it just me or has the church given up on the basics in how to draw people back to church?  Do you quit bible studies just because only one or two people show up?  Are we so caught up with technology that if we don’t get rewards every 8 seconds, it’s not worth doing?  Has our attention span as Christians been reduce to something less than the attention space of a Gold Fish?

A while ago, there was a weekly bible study started by a minister’s Son.  It was for both men and women and it was not initially organized by the church.  The well planned and prepared bible studies were very successful. The church then sanctioned the study and it went on for years. Suddenly it was cancelled.  The reason wasn’t really clear but there were suggestions like, half the people were from other churches, they were growing inwards and not outwards.  A few people said that the program was self-sustaining but it was not generating any income for the operations of the church.  Seriously! The church was more concerned about profit!

After the first few years the bible study grew to a few hundred people.  Then the bible study stopped growing but it stayed strong for a number of years.  No one was certain if the growth peaked because the room they were meeting in was not large enough for more people, or because there wasn’t any more room for parking or because no one was sharing what they learned.  There was about a 15 to 25% annual turnover of people.  That makes for a very successful program considering some churches have an annual turnover of 50 to 60% for Sunday morning services which suggests there is a lot of spiritual milk being served and little to no spiritual meat being offered any other time through the week to keep people there. This bible study had both milk and meat delivered in the right order as described in the bible.

As it so often happens, this very successful program gets cancelled and another program with good intentions tries to replace it.  The new program fails and now, three years later the church is desperately trying to reboot the Bible study because since it was stopped, overall church attendance and tithing during the Sunday worship services dropped 50%.  Who knew that a bible study program not supported by the church was in fact helping the church indirectly in a huge way.  This church seats over 1000 people.  Just because you can’t see or understand how a successful mid-week bible program works or a weak midweek bible program works, doesn’t mean it won’t have an impact on Sunday worship or church growth.

There has been other events that suggests a strong desire of people interaction.  Should a Monthly men’s prayer breakfast replace weekly bible studies?  What happens to people after getting through an Alpha Meeting program?  Some churches are good at promoting 12 step programs but what is the follow-up to that?  Where do Christians go if they want something more than just milk?  Seriously!  Feed Yourself!  Nowhere does it say that in the Bible but there are many times where God says he will send a shepherd to feed his flock.  Where are the teachers to guide us through the milk to meat or even strong meat?

So if the church is not providing places for people to get something more than just milk, where do people go to seek spiritual meat?  Promise Keepers, Full Gospel Businessmen’s association, Women’s Coffee Break, Woman Alive are just a few of the many great organizations. I get the impression that the attendees are mostly people who want more than just getting milk at church on Sundays.  I think a lot of the people who go to these groups are people who are looking for some meat.  The thing is, can you receive meat in large groups?  The Bible says no.

Heb 5:11 – 14 and 1Co 3:1 -3

Meat is for those becoming mature people.  Mature people become teachers.  Teachers start teaching with milk and later teach the meat until those who grow become mature people.  Maturity is not about age, it is about knowledge, experience and being well grounded in the Word.   Jesus by example gave us the Sermon on the Mount which was mostly milk and later he preached meat to his disciples.  Preachers spread the milk and teachers give the meat.  So where does that happen?  Not by just attending Sunday services.  It is by being involved with follow-up teaching.  People are asking for more teaching but many churches have stopped.  Meanwhile I have discovered that some churches have never stopped and those are the churches that quietly move forward.

It is high time that the midweek bible study gets restored and restored soon if we want to see churches be sustained or even grow in North America.  If the church you’re attending is growing and there is no mid-week meetings, how long will that last when there is a change in leadership?  As an observer of many churches, congregations can survive with teachers and thrive without a pastor.  I’ve seen churches build a brand new facility without a pastor leading the way but a church will fall apart if there are no teachers and where there is no meat being passed on for those to become mature in Christ.

By Joseph De Buglio

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