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Does the congregation need to hear themselves?

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  • Does the congregation need to hear themselves?

    So what do you guys think, does the congregation have to be able to hear themselves singing for corporate worship music to happen?

    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/bl...and-a-concert/

  • #2
    If a congregation can't hear themselves singing then they might start to wonder what's the point.

    The authors of the articles referenced raise a number of valid concerns (which are not limited to contemporary praise bands, by the way - I have been in churches which feature some exceptionally skilled classical musicians and singers for whom every single one of these authors' issues apply with equal force).

    I think that regardless of the form or style of music that a church uses, there needs to be clear teaching that
    1) worship music and singing are never to be considered as independent entities; they serve the greater purposes of worship and disciple-making and should function alongside the preaching and teaching of God's Word just as every other element of a worship gathering
    2) even if the physical environment we use might tend to subtly undermine our desire to keep the focus completely on God (by placing musicians, singers, and preachers on a raised platform at the front of the room just like a secular concert stage), there are many ways to distinguish what we do in worship from a secular concert by our choice of music (and especially lyrics), how we play, how we who are platform leaders carry ourselves on the platform, what decibel level we use, etc.

    Just a few thoughts.
    Great topic.

    Alex
    ...a man of few words, all carefully chosen (hopefully)

    Comment


    • #3
      So you're saying that if people in the congregation can't hear themselves, they can't sing? Why would that be?

      Comment


      • #4
        No, I said that if people in the congregation can't hear themselves sing then they might start to wonder what is the point of even trying.
        ...a man of few words, all carefully chosen (hopefully)

        Comment


        • #5
          Actually, Russ gave what I think is one of the best descriptions of how to approach worship in a recent blog post-

          Worship leaders don’t make people worship. Worship leaders create spaces for people to join together to corporately express their worship.
          The main elements, creating spaces and individuals joining together to express their worship, provides pretty clear guidelines-

          1) Leave enough space, not only in the song but in the volume, for people to join in
          2) It's still their worship. They own their worship experience. They get out of it what they put into it. We can't make them, we can't manipulate them, they own it. It's our job to create the space for them to worship with their peers at the level of their walk with Christ- which is different for everyone.

          On the discussion on volume, there is more to the story than SPL. Mix quality is more important and yet so overlooked. A good mix can be quite loud and still be pleasant (and have space), but a bad mix sounds bad no matter how quiet it is. I won't go down that road here, but 90% of the 'too loud' comments aren't volume level but mix quality- a harsh vocal or feedback or frequency resonance (like a sub that sounds like mud) that 75% of sound board guys have no real clue about.

          From the article, I'm not going into that. Even though there are a few good points, there is more of it that's short-sighted and immature. I have my own thoughts, especially about the comments that if it's creative, people shut down.

          Without going into a sermon, that's a clear indication of spiritual immaturity and the chronic control issues plaguing and stifling so many churches today. If the team's creativity causes the congregation to shut down, it's not the team that has the problem...

          It's one thing if the team is way off the deep end, wearing weird costumes and doing some Lady Gaga-like routine. But there is an extreme the other way where worship is so regimented and controlled there is no room for the Holy Spirit to manifest.

          The long and short of it, each individual, whether in church or at home, owns their worship experience. Just like their Bible reading, their prayer life, and their tithe. If they choose to shut down when the team does a different arrangement of a song, it's on THEIR OWN shoulders, not the team. Like the picky 5 year old at the dinner table, if they don't want to eat mom's new dish, it's the kid that goes hungry (and who knows, if they try it, they might LIKE it! ) If you want to disconnect from worship because the team did something different, then you are the one who loses out. Sadly, when enough people do that, it silences the Holy Spirit, God doesn't show up, and the congregation has the audacity (rooted in ignorance) to blame the worship team.
          If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think we always need to guard against an air of "performance-ism." Not that leading worship or playing on a worship team isn't performance in a sense (because I absolutely believe it is), but any time that the congregation is being put into a more passive role, we need to reevaluate what we're doing. If the congregation as a whole can't be heard along with the few on the platform, then it seems appropriate to ask what we're communicating through our music.

            That said, I think there's a huge difference between being able to hear the congregation as a WHOLE and an individual feeling like they can be heard clearly. In my experience, many sing more confidently and are generally more open in worship if they can be reasonably sure that the people around them won't be listening to them.

            I agree with most of the other points in the article. Too often, we as worship leaders make musical choices based on what fits our own abilities, preferences, and ranges rather than considering the average person in the seats. Ultimately, our job is to lead them well, even if it takes some compromise to do it.
            Eric Frisch
            www.ericfrisch.com

            Comment


            • #7
              We've got to keep in mind that people behave differently in the church environment than they do in other music environments. I couldn't care less if I can hear myself at the concert of my favorite rock band...I'll sing at the top of my lungs anyway. Or at a national worship conference with thousands of other church worship leaders and musicians. But, my demeanor and my willingness to sing and raise my hands and shout and dance in church is probably not the same as at the rock concert. It is beneficial for people to be able to hear not only themselves but the others around them singing.

              Nate
              Practical Worship

              Please Pray For My Wife

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by milepost13 View Post
                We've got to keep in mind that people behave differently in the church environment than they do in other music environments. I couldn't care less if I can hear myself at the concert of my favorite rock band...I'll sing at the top of my lungs anyway. Or at a national worship conference with thousands of other church worship leaders and musicians. But, my demeanor and my willingness to sing and raise my hands and shout and dance in church is probably not the same as at the rock concert. It is beneficial for people to be able to hear not only themselves but the others around them singing.

                Nate
                I'm not arguing... I just don't get why it's beneficial... It isn't even a thought for me if I'm in the congregation...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by gregrjones View Post
                  I'm not arguing... I just don't get why it's beneficial... It isn't even a thought for me if I'm in the congregation...
                  We gather together to worship together. If I can't hear those around me singing, IMO, the experience is not living up to the billing. I don't need to hear myself singing, but whether I'm in the congregation or up on the stage leading, I want to hear others singing. Is there anything more beautiful and encouraging than the church singing to and about God?

                  Also, in my church, we have a large percentage of guests each week, especially in the summer. We've discovered that our guests, who may not be totally comfortable in a new environment, may not know all or any of the song we sing, are encouraged to join in when they can hear those around them singing.

                  Nate
                  Practical Worship

                  Please Pray For My Wife

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I feel they do need to hear themselves to a degree. I mean, if the font of house sound is too loud, then it's just going to end up discouraging congregational singing, which is what we are obviously aiming for as a worship leader/team.

                    It's about getting that balance right. The music still needs to be loud enough to have impact, just not overbearing.

                    Generally if people can't hear themselves at all = minimal singing. They usually end up frustrated at some point.

                    Anyway, that's just my 2 cents!

                    John
                    DOWNLOAD TWO FREE ORIGINAL WORSHIP SONGS!: www.johnharrisonmusic.net

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm sorry but I just can't see what you guys are saying. I don't understand how the congregation not hearing them self would keep them from singing. In fact, if I'm self-conscious about people hearing me sing, then knowing that I'm not being heard, mitigates that self-consciousness.

                      Nate said something about if the congregation can't hear themselves sing, it doesn't fit the 'billing'. What is meant by 'billing'? In my mind, the 'billing' is to worship within a community with song, not for my neighbor to hear me or for me to hear them.

                      I'm really not trying to be argumentative. Just seeking clarity.

                      But am I really the ONLY one who isn't getting this idea of 'the congregation must hear themselves singing to participate in corporate worship'? Certainly, I'm not alone here.....
                      Last edited by gregrjones; 02-05-2015, 06:05 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        And no I'm not advocating bleeding people's ears off either. Peaking 95db doesn't seem unreasonable to me.... depends upon the room though....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gregrjones View Post
                          I'm sorry but I just can't see what you guys are saying. I don't understand how the congregation not hearing them self would keep them from singing. In fact, if I'm self-conscious about people hearing me sing, then knowing that I'm not being heard, mitigates that self-consciousness.

                          Nate said something about if the congregation can't hear themselves sing, it doesn't fit the 'billing'. What is meant by 'billing'? In my mind, the 'billing' is to worship within a community with song, not for my neighbor to hear me or for me to hear them.

                          I'm really not trying to be argumentative. Just seeking clarity.

                          But am I really the ONLY one who isn't getting this idea of 'the congregation must hear themselves singing to participate in corporate worship'? Certainly, I'm not alone here.....
                          No worries. If this doesn't make sense in your context, that's OK.

                          By "billing" I'm referring to the use of the word as "advertisement". Our church "advertises" our Sunday morning as corporate worship. If I can't hear others singing, IMO, it feels a bit like I'm alone in my worship, which negates the "corporate" idea. I also mean that, I take passages like Ephesians 5:19 to emphasize that our times of corporate worship are about both singing to God and singing to each other about God. In order for my church to accomplish this, we must be able to hear each other singing. We pump our music loud, but people are still able to hear each other singing if they want to.

                          Again, maybe this whole thing just doesn't fit your context, and that's OK.

                          Nate
                          Practical Worship

                          Please Pray For My Wife

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johnharrison View Post
                            Generally if people can't hear themselves at all = minimal singing. They usually end up frustrated at some point.

                            John
                            This has been true in my experience as well.

                            Nate
                            Practical Worship

                            Please Pray For My Wife

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In my opinion, hearing myself sing has nothing to do with whether I feel alone or not (I can see others around me and have hopefully engage in fellowship) or whether or not I'm worshiping. And if I'm self-conscious of my singing, I certainly don't want my voice to be heard.

                              Eph 5:19 certainly advocates singing but it doesn't demand I be able to hear my neighbor or be heard myself.

                              If I'm NOT self-conscious AND want to be heard, I'd volunteer for the praise team and get a mic.

                              Maybe I just don't get it, and I'm open to that but could we also consider the possibility that perhaps the REAL reason our congregations might want to be heard is because of the negative influence of narcissism coming from our culture? Maybe the best way to counter the 'it's all about me' contagion within our church bodies is to NOT let people hear each other?

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