If you have attended a service at The Town Church, you may have noticed that our music can get pretty loud. For some of you, that’s awesome. For some of you, not so much. Some might even worry that their hearing (or their children’s hearing) could be damaged.
Overview: Is there anything we can do about the volume?
We have some significant technical hurdles with our current sound system and our sanctuary. While we have taken a few steps to address these issues as we have had the resources available, real progress will only be achieved when we are able (someday) to purchase and install a more adequate sound system. As you can imagine, this comes with a price tag, and at the moment, we are unable to make a large capital expenditure in this area. However, the worship of God is not an option for us – we will do whatever it takes to see that remain at the core of who we are as a church.
We care deeply about facilitating hearty worship of our mighty God, who is worthy of all our praise. Sound issues can often be a distraction from worship. We are working to remove these distractions in a few different ways:
- We are continuing to address sound system issues as we are financially able. For instance, next week, we are trying out a new cymbal technology that we hope will help us tame the harsh frequencies our room reproduces each time a cymbal is hit.
- We are attempting as much creative problem-solving as possible. This includes things like building a sound absorptive (and beautiful) wood wall for the stage backdrop, experimenting with different songs & band arrangements, etc.
The Details: Our space and our tools
Our desire is to craft worship experiences that glorify God, that move our hearts and minds to worship and obedience, and that engage our senses. Our sense of hearing is engaged as we sing along with the worship musicians. Rest assured, we do monitor volume levels regularly and strive to keep them within levels that are safe for everyone. We want to engage, not damage, our senses. Nonetheless, in our current space, the volume levels can often seem too loud. Why is this so?
First, we occupy a space that was never originally designed for a rock band and a sound system. The particulars of the room make sound reinforcement of live music a complicated endeavor. Because of the particular quirks of our sanctuary, there is quite a lot of variation in sound quality and level depending on where you sit or stand.
Second, the sound system is not particularly well suited for live music. We are grateful that the sound system was in place when we moved into the building. Someday, we hope to address these technical issues in a comprehensive way with a system that is more suited to our needs.
Additionally, we recognize that some people simply have more sensitive hearing than others. For this reason, we always have earplugs available at the Information Table for anyone who may want them.
A Biblical Basis for what we do
Why do we mix the music loud at all? Or why do we choose to utilize a full band in many of our worship services? Given the difficulties with our room, why don’t we just strip it down to an acoustic guitar and a hand drum all the time? While we don’t believe that music at church must always be loud, there is scriptural support for the idea that when God’s people worship, it often is loud:
“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”
“Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud crashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
“David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.”
-1 Chronicles 15:16
“So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.
-1 Chronicles 15:28
While we might have added a few instruments to the list, the general idea remains the same. We have a BIG God, and when we praise him appropriately, we are compelled to make a BIG sound.
The idea that worship music should only be quiet and contemplative is simply not biblical. We have a lot of freedom to worship God in a variety of ways through music, and we see this expressed in Scripture, from an impromptu tambourine jam on the shore of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:19-21), to a huge dance party in the streets of Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:16-28), to a couple of saints singing midnight hymns in prison (Acts 16:25). When we get to heaven, the multitudes of angels and all the redeemed will raise their voice and cry out together to praise the Lamb who was slain. This will not be a quiet sound (Revelation 19:1).
Finally, I want to remind us all that on this side of heaven, there will likely never be a worship gathering that meets everyone’s needs and desires. The truth is that meeting our needs and desires isn’t our ultimate objective. We gather to boast in God. We gather to rejoice in what He has done among us. We gather FOR HIM. To Him alone be the glory!
Until then, we worship in less than stellar circumstances, often with broken equipment, new volunteers, guitars that go out of tune, and a million other distractions. But in the midst of all of that, we join with the Psalmists in praising our God in quiet times AND with loud shouts of joy.
On Sundays we gather together to celebrate and proclaim our salvation through the work of Jesus. When people want to celebrate, they throw a party. And when people throw a party, they play loud music, dance, and even shout. And because, as Christians we have much to celebrate, Sundays at The Town Church should reflect this.