Upgrade!

By Adam C. Henderson

How one church (successfully) updated its technology and improved the worship experience.

Six months ago, our church’s faithful analog mixing console died. We knew we wanted to do more than replace the board; our ultimate goal was to update our technology and improve our worship experience.

Six months later, the initial assessments are coming in: It’s been a great transition. Perhaps our positive experience can pave the way for your own.

Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral, FL, recently expanded its sanctuary and updated its audio system. The church also expanded its stage lighting and added projection.  (Photo courtesy of Custom Sound Designs)

Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral, FL, recently expanded its sanctuary and updated its audio system. The church also expanded its stage lighting and added projection.
(Photo courtesy of Custom Sound Designs)

Go digital
Digital consoles provide maximum flexibility and control. This Easter season, our Good Friday service was quiet and acoustic, featuring a piano we rarely use, a keyboard and four vocalists.

Easter Sunday morning featured a full band, six vocalists (three of whom weren’t used on Good Friday), and added wireless for a reading. The transition from one service to the other was accomplished with the push of a button. No re-patching. No adjustment of equalization or monitor mix. Just find the Easter Sunday preset and push “load.”

Get rid of the wedges
Stage noise was killing us on Sunday mornings. No matter what we did, there was a general muddiness to our audio. We could never hear the acoustic guitar if the lead guitar, bass or drums were playing. The clarity of the new digital board helped to some extent, but the issue was all the sound from the wedge monitors bouncing around onstage before drifting into
the seats.

Onstage monitor mixing with in-ear monitors was part of our upgrade plan, and the digital mixer cost less than anticipated, so we transitioned early. All our powered instruments now control their own monitors (making life that much easier for our sound guy), and in-ear monitors eliminate competing sound.

Invest in your people
Upgraded equipment is only as good as the technician running it. Investing in these people — personally and professionally — is essential.

Worship technology is an equal blend of art and science. Remember this when training your people. When I mention the “art” of worship technology, I’m referring to the feel. What emotional response are you seeking, and what audio mix accomplishes this for you?
The “science” of worship is the technical skill necessary to run the equipment to achieve the desired sound.

Regular practice and periodic team training are critical. If you train everyone individually, you’ll never gain consistency. Bring everyone together, and present a single, clear picture of what you hope to accomplish and how.

Anticipate great things
While our church anticipated great things from the decision to update our equipment, we continue to be amazed at the level of improvement. There’s great satisfaction in knowing the artistic element of our services is strengthened, and that people are more ready to hear the Word and respond.

Adam C. Henderson is an audio/lighting technician in his local church. Before transitioning into his current role as Operations Manager for Fort Wayne, IN-based Custom Sound Designs, he served as lead pastor of a midsize church and as Central District Ministry Director in the Missionary Church.

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