Nothing can kill a church service faster than a problem with the sound. The role of “sound guy” (or gal) is indeed one of incredible responsibility. That being said, let me leap to the defense of my brothers and sisters in the sound booth with this one statement:
Most of the problems with sound in any given church service are the direct/indirect result of what’s happening on stage, as opposed to what’s happening in the booth.
Shall I offer some extreme anecdotal evidence? Yes? Fantastic. For your consideration, I present the following “tech wreck”
Awkward A Cappella
I was running sound at what I would have thought was a typical Sunday evening service. There wasn’t supposed to be anything special about it. Just the usual worship service, special music, and sermon. Of course, I should have remembered the old tech adage, “When everything seems calm and predictable, the floor is about to fall out from underneath you.”
Worship service came and went smoothly, and the specialist was headed for the stage. I had his cassette tape—no, I’m not making that up—cued and ready to go. He got to the pulpit, mic in hand, gave me the high sign, and I pressed play.
And nothing happened.
The tape deck, which was twice my age, had stopped stone dead. I pressed the stop button and tried the play button again. Nothing. I shrugged, looked at the pastor—my loving father—and gave him the universal sign for tech failure: I drew my right fist, thumb out, across my throat in a rather graphic cutting motion. He got the message: the tape deck is dead.
Now, here’s where the word “wreck” really lands.
My dad said something to the effect of “Looks like some of our equipment isn’t working, so we’ll have to just give it a try next week.”
The specialist, however, was no quitter. “I can do it without the music,” he said. My dad, with little recourse, said, “Sure.” (Cause how do you say “no way!” in front of the entire church?)
What followed, dear readers, was the most awkwardly tone deaf rendition of “The Touch of the Master’s Hands” to which the universe has ever born witness. God bless the specialist. He gave it his all, but that just wasn’t enough in this situation. Our organist, to his credit, tried to give him a note, a melody, etc. but to no avail.
Finally, the song ended, and the service limped onward.
Needless to say, we soon bought a new CD/tape deck so that nothing like this would ever happen again!