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Posted on Jan 25, 2010 in Tech

Dangerous Decibels

So it’s happened to me yet again. Well, it happens more often than not. Someone came up to me after our service on Sunday morning and complained about the sound being too loud. The week before I had about 15 people come up to me and express that the sound was too quiet and that they didn’t want to sing out because they didn’t want the people around them to hear them singing. Believe it or not, people are just as emotional on the quiet side as they are on the loud side of the fence.

It’s a very tight rail we walk in terms of volume. Some churches have a harder time than others. Some churches have problems caused by the building they are in, others have problems because of the large age range they serve on a weekly basis. Still others have problems because musicians like it loud, and the guitarist’s amp just doesn’t sound as warm unless it’s turned up. It’s a battle I’ve been a part of pretty much my whole life.

I’ve learned a lot over the course of my time in worship ministry about sound pressure levels, decibels and what not (to be quite honest, far more than I ever wanted to know). Today I thought I’d share a resource with you that I came across as this battle was thrust into the forefront of my mind once again. It’s called “Dangerous Decibels.” Here’s the link: http://www.dangerousdecibels.org/hearingloss.cfm

This link is particularly helpful as it has a chart on this page about hearing damage. Not that we need to be able to win our side of the argument, but this is an issue we need to have thought through clearly. As churches, we cannot be responsible for people losing their hearing. At the same time, contemporary worship music is loud. So, I’d recommend you take a minute or two and familiarize yourself with the info on Dangerous Decibels so that you can be leading your people in this way.

  • “The week before I had about 15 people come up to me and express that the sound was too quiet and that they didn’t want to sing out because they didn’t want the people around them to hear them singing.”

    People don’t like that, but that’s what corporate worship is all about— worshipping together. It’s why we don’t sit at home with headphones watching TV worship services. If the sound is so loud that you can’t hear the person next to you singing, then what you have is a concert, not a worship service. Each person can be worshipping personally, just as they can at a concert while silently listening to music and praising God with their thoughts, but it’s not the same as a church service.