I’m sitting in a room in a church building. It’s about as large as my living room. Having 20 people in here would feel crowded.

It has a stage. Stage lighting. A mounted set of PA speakers. A sound desk. Microphones. Flat screen TV. Blacked-out windows.

Why do we do this?

We are turning an environment of intimacy into a concert hall. We are creating an aural barrier between the Main Speaker and the eardrums of the well-within-earshot Audience. We run the natural human voice through a mile of cables and processors, converting it to a digital signal and then artificially reproducing it until “it” comes out of a box mounted on the wall, further away from the hearer than the actual voice box of the person speaking.

This is the ecclesiastical equivalent of having a text message “conversation” with your spouse while you’re lying in the same bed.

In our church, we have tossed out the sound system—even though we often have close to 80 people in a large courtroom. Why?

Because the sound system separates the music ensemble and the preacher from the rest of the congregation, making those *special* people seem like they are above and beyond the people assembled. “Liturgy” means “the work of the people”, not “the performance of the pastor” or “the staging of the singers”.

Getting all “stagy” is not a deadly sin. Unplugging is not a cardinal virtue.

But let’s use our common sense.

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One thought on “Unplug

  1. I’ve never understood the idea behind deadening the whole building with wall-to-wall carpet, low, flat, drop ceilings, etc., and then having to amplify everything. I was in a church like that a while back. They had a grand piano that would’ve been more than enough for that worship space, but because of all the carpet, etc, they had to mic it, heavily. It didn’t even sound like itself anymore.

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