By Malcolm Hill
It was late. The evening celebration was in full swing. Somebody was preaching. I hovered at the door, waiting for a suitable opportunity to find a seat. As I waited two men shuflfed past me. ... 'I don't know why I came, you can't even hear what the guy's saying..'
That man's words, as he made his way out of the building, hit me in the stomach. I was angry, our church had put so much into the Sunday celebrations, with prayer, music and great preaching. But having done enough to draw someone it, it had failed to hold them due to poor sound.
That anger turned to conviction. As a pro-sound man of some twenty years, I had done so little to equip the church in both skill and equiment. I determined that so far as it was down to me, I would work to overcome this potential stumblling block to faith, and at the same time make the 'sweet sounds' even sweeter!
I had started my business in 1972, originally making sound systems for christian bands. A year or two later, through the encouragement of Rupert Neve, I stepped out into the pro-sound industry. The rest, as they say, is history. We were the first to manufacture compact portable mixers; first with compact high-powered amplifiers. Our touring amplifiers were so successful that Wembly Arena became our second home, Donnington a recurring nightmare and even Wembly Stadium was becoming just another venue.
Meanwhile step by subtle step I had let the business get under the control of non-believers and my faith was almost 'choked'. Then in 1991 two things happened.
My faith in Jesus was set on fire and, in a classic recessio-induced scenario, the business collapsed. These two events seemed perfectly linked. We happily set about giving our equipment away to interested churches and ministries, while seeking God as to what our new future might be. Somewhat to our surprise, we were constantly lead to what the bible says about restoration (Deut 8)
At this time of personal renewal, Luis Palau's book 'Radical Renewal' was very special to me. Almost the first thing he writes about is the Mission to London outreach. Tens of thousands of people coming to Queens Park Rangers Football Grounds, night after night, week after week. Thousands of people coming to the Lord, and receiving faith.
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10)
How blind I had been! My past had not been a mistake. Those vast crowds of people had heard the word of God, through one of my sound systems. So we came to believe that we were to face the daunting challenge of building the business up once more. This time we would strive to keep Jesus as Lord of the business, and to give priority to the development of a 'praise and worship' sound system. As I came back into the church with this vision in my heart and mind, I identified three main problem areas:
There is no law that says churches must have sound systems, or drums or pipe organs for that matter. But I believe the bible is very clear that we should use such things, and use them skilfully (
psalm 33) Sadly the most common attitude I have found in churches is 'Well, we'll get by so long as not too many people complain.'
Sound systems, no less than any other part of the church, are here for the Lord, for the lost and not for ourselves.'
One of the greatest mysteries of the Rock 'n' Roll industry is how on earth do certain individuals ene up beingsound engineers, with the artist's career at the mercy of theit trigger-happy fingers? But what of the church? Do we appoint sound engineers with the same wisdom and discernment as we do preachers?
If you have followed me this far, I will assume you have decided that sound systems are to be a part of your church, so the next problem to face ie equipment.
As I attended more and more meetings, I was made aware of several situations which make very unusual demands on sound systems.
As the meeting starts, the system can be working hard trying to balance a full worship band with a dancing, clapping, exuberantly praising congregation. The next moment, the task is to gently lift the quiet voive of a child's testimony at a moment of intense worshipful silence Later a word comes from a member of the 'body' , whilst the worship band is still playing.
Then comes the preaching. Excited revelations cause overload and distortion. Humourous asides are lost in the background of restlesschildren and rustling sweet papers. A preacher knows when the sound system is not effective - and he is not encouraged. And then it is back to raising the roof in praise.
However, when considering the equipment currently available, I realised that churches were forced to choose between systems optimising speech intellibly (developed for the conference market) and music systems developed for the live/disco market. Worship leaders hate the former, and preachers are intimidated by the latter.
Normally we receive an enquiry from a church via the worship leader. When we visit the church to demonstrate our system, typically during a celebration, the treasurer can be observed strengthening the defenses around the church bank account, and the preacher can be heard stressing the importance of teaching 'the word'. However we have provided that all ministries can be fully served through the one system, so meetings can end with smiles all round!
In many church situations, a large section of the congregation hear the words of the preacher from both the preacher's mouth and from the sound system. If the reproduction of the preacher's voice is not natural and faithful, it will not blend with the acoustic voice and will therefore cause a distraction to the listener. The ideal church sound system should be invisible, both to the eye and to the ear.
So we came to believe that any specialist church sound system should meet the following criteria:
All of these criteria have now been met in our PW (Praise and Worship range of equipment, although opinions vary on the cost.
If I were to summarise, my advice to churches considering a sound system would be:
1. Decide whether you are an acoustic or electric church. There are so many potential problems in being a semi-acoustic church that primary consideration should be given in acoustic solutions, such as carpeting, wall treatment etc.
2. If modest sound reinforcement is necessary, install the minimum needed to resolve the problem. Perhaps an earpiece loop, or discrete speakers, located just where the problems are in the buildings.
3. Choose equipment that has a natural sound, a sound that blends with acoustic sound in the building, rather than competing with it.
4. Try out the equipment for a minimum of a week, in all sorts of meetings before commiting to make a purchase.
5. Seek God's leading as to who in your church should be responsible for the sound. A worshipful heart, sensitivity and commitment are vital. one can always learn the mtsteries of 'phantom power' at a later date!
Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord , always giving thanks.
Helping the homeless
Night Shelter Practicalities
Praise the Lord, more and more ministries now let the homeless sleep in their church halls over winter.
Depending on the venue the 'guests' can be treated like royalty, enjoying new clean designer clothes and bedwear provided daily, gormet food and heated floors to aid a decent nights sleep.
Coming soon... advice on those extra health & safety steps your church can take to ensure a healthy, happy homeless night shelter with minimum difficulties.
To celebrate, LIGHT INTERNATIONAL looks back at her rather special visit to Christian - run Rehabilitation Centre Teen Challenge.
Page 15 Visions & Creativity Section..
We are delighted to present LIGHT INTERNATIONAL - The Global Review of Christianity to the world once more in 2018 - an important time in our history...
A huge thanks for your patience while we upload more and more articles from the five sections of LIGHT INTERNATIONAL within the coming weeks.
The sections are:
1. Business of Ministry
For pastors /ministers, curates, worship team members, church administrators, Junior Church teachers, church wardens and many others..
Covers the day to day running of Churches in different parts of the world.
Includes applications of sound technology, building resourses, flooring, heating, pews & seating, communion wine.. the list goes on and on..
2. Ministry of Business
For business people... The I.C.C.C. International Christian Chamber of Commerce and others demonstrate the miraculous new dimension of Jesus at work.
3. Spiritual Realm
Deeply spiritual articles on gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Includes Spiritual and Praise Warfare, Intercession on a Global scale, and 'forgotten' teachings like 'The Witness of the Spirit' by David Wilkerson.
4. Visions & Creativity
Especially gifted and often larger ministries sharing with us how our own faith and churches can grow beyond belief... Includes The Largest Sunday School in the World and The adoption of Third world orphans.
5. Lifestyle Faith & Fame
Billy Graham on how we should live our life, lifestyle, including travel, and taking your church on a pilgrimage. World class sportsmen with faith and other celebrities etc sharing with us...
In Christian Service,
LIGHT INTERNATIONAL - The Global Review of Christianity 2018