The Incredible, Invisible Sound Man

Staying Invisible as the Sound Man

The sound ministry is unique in many ways, but one of the distinguishing  characteristics of a good sound man (no offense sound ladies, that’s just the term we use) is this - a good sound man strives to be invisible. It is a good day in the sound ministry when the service is over, everyone in the congregation, the singers, the service leaders, and the pastor have all gone home, and no one has thought once about the sound system or the people who run it. That is the perfect day in the sound ministry.

The sound ministry is not a good place of ministry for someone who needs a lot of attention. To be sure there are many ways for a sound guy to get attention, but none of them are good. Our goal is that everyone attending a service will give their heart and attention to the message. That they would be fully engaged in the preaching, music, and every element of the service. The simple truth is if they are thinking about the sound system, the lighting or the projection, they are not thinking about the message.

Here are three scenarios that make the sound ministry “visible” and distracting to the service, and how to avoid them:

Missed cues

If you have done sound for any length of time this has happened to you. You either get engrossed in what is being sung or said, or your mind wanders, and suddenly you realize that the next speaker or singer has grabbed a mic and is talking, but the mic is not on.

The solution for this is obvious—pay attention and anticipate. It should become a habit. As soon as a group starts to sing, or announcements start, your mind should say, “What happens next?” If you are asking yourself, “What’s next?” when the song or announcements are done and the transition is happening, you are toast. You must anticipate.

We like to use the analogy of riding vs. driving. If you are responsible for the sound in a service, you can’t just be taking a ride in the service, you have to be actively driving.

Equipment failure

When the mic does not work, or the CD does not play, or the batteries on a piece of equipment are dead, the sound ministry becomes very visible and distracting. Sometimes this is unavoidable. We are working with mechanical and electrical equipment that is going to fail at some point. However, 99% of the time these in-service failures can be avoided by thorough checking before each service. It sounds simple, but every piece of equipment that is going to be used for a service needs to be carefully checked before that service.

Sudden Changes

The last scenario that makes the sound system visible and distracting is any noticeable and sudden changes. These can be in volume, in EQ, in a ring, or just about anywhere else. If you properly anticipate, you should be able to keep your in-service changes and adjustments to a minimum, so they do not become distracting.

These are three of the big categories we all work to avoid. What common distractions do you deal with and how do you avoid them?

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