There is something that I have learned over the past few years that I really did not previously understand. Here it is: the people that hide in that back room or cubicle in your church and control the sound are extremely important.
I have learned this the hard way. It has not made sense for me to bring along a sound technician when I travel. That works OK because most of the churches I have been to have had adequate sound systems and good sound people. But what I have noticed is that the music’s impact is magnified dramatically when someone professional is running sound. For example, when I travel with Daybreak and let them handle my sound, I sense a big difference.
Of course, the average person in the congregation really only thinks about sound people at all when something goes wrong. When the microphone is not turned on at the right time or you get feedback in the system, everyone gives the sound room a bit of attention. That is unfortunate and unfair. When a sound technician is doing a good job, they become invisible. But if you are involved in the music of your church, you should not take them for granted.
Beyond the volume in the room and obvious things such as turning on and off microphones, there are other very important things that sound technicians should be able to do.
1) Balance. They should know how to balance the instruments and voices against each other so that the right things are emphasized.
2) Helping the musicians hear each other. I cannot overemphasize how important it is for everyone to be able to hear what everyone else is doing. Obviously, it helps keep things together but also gives musicians the opportunity to feed off of each other. Making this happen may sound easy but it often is not. It is worth taking some time at the beginning of every rehearsal to make sure that every musician is hearing well. Obviously, this is usually done with monitors but the mix going to the monitors has to be appropriate.
3) Improving sound. Practically every sound board has the ability to EQ and improve sound by boosting different audio ranges etc. In other words, good sound people can compensate for weaknesses among the musicians and singers.
If I ran a music ministry, I would put as much emphasis on the sound room as I did on the musicians. I would have training for them and involve them in the rehearsals to some extent. For sure, I would have scheduled sound checks for special music, and I would schedule sound people just like musicians with backups in place. I would expect the same commitment from them that I expected from musicians too.
Of course, this kind of thing is not always possible in smaller churches and I understand that. But if you are in a church that is flush with musical talent and you take your sound team for granted, you are missing a big opportunity. Take care of those people. They are the catalysts between the musicians and the congregation and they literally can make or break the effectiveness of the music that you do.