How to Select the Best Sound Console for Your Church’s Worship Space

Recently, Highland has gone through a “replacement” phase of all of it’s technologies around it’s campus because of most everything being 10+ years old.

During that time, the 9 year old sound board (Allen and Heath iLive 176 and a 48 channel iDR Mix rack) in our main worship space died, was revived and then starting dying slowly again (the surface mainly) all within about 4 months. This catastrophic event the Lord guided us through started me on my journey to find the best sound console for our space. The iLive was good, but at the rate technology is advancing, it was an old dinosaur operating on outdated protocols.

Step 1 – What are your needs?

Before I thought about brands, I wrote down my needs. What were those?

  1. Input channel count
  2. Output channel count
  3. Dante integration
  4. IEM integration

Some other important factors one could consider would be analog or digital; if digital, the console’s operating system (what you need to do to actually set up the console and operate it); how effective you would be as a leader to train your volunteers on how to use it on a week to week basis; what kind of warranty each brand offered; customer service; and how long the consoles would last. Having experience in my favorite brands’ OS, I was confident I could come up with a process to easily train my volunteer and paid sound techs.

Step 2 – Brand and console selection

Those specific guidelines pointed me to the right “level” of sound console from my three favorite brands (DiGiCo, Allen and Heath, and Midas). I made sure to research each brand on my own and asked my integrator what would work best for our needs as well. As soon as we came to a consensus, we started the pricing and demoing phase.

Step 3 – Pricing and Demo Phase

In tandem with getting a quote on what it would cost to buy and install all of the equipment per sound console ecosystem, I scheduled demos of each sound console through my integrator. At each demo, my integrator brought me a quote for the install of the console and all other equipment. At the end of the day, this allowed me to rank each console by price and how it sounded. If a console sounded phenomenal, but was way out of my attainable price range, I would obviously not be able to select that console as the solution for our space.

Step 4 – Selection Phase

By this phase, I was intimately familiar with how each console sounded, operated and fit in to my needs. Fortunately for me, all three consoles fit in to my most basic channel count and integration needs. The deciding factors for me were how the console sounded and how closely that fit Highland’s ideal sound for our space and the price of the total install project.

For us, the best sounding console was the DiGiCo SD10, but it was around $140K to install all of the bells and whistles. The Midas Pro X with their new neutron processor sounded almost as good as the DiGiCo, but was only $70K to install after some generous promotions Midas was offering to all new console purchases at the time. This sealed the deal as I was not only considering how it would affect our worship space, but also the funds we had available in light of other expensive projects our elders were deciding on at the time (like a new van for ministries to use, a new AC system for one of the buildings, property purchase and other very expensive things). Saving the $70K and freeing up that cash to do other big projects around campus made it an easy sell to our elders and Administrative pastor.

Step 5 – Install Phase

Schedule a time with your integrator to install the sound console. Make sure to write down everything you are wanting and expecting during the install. Make sure you and your integrator agree to those terms!

Once they’ve completed the install, be sure to walk around and check every single thing they touched. I made a mistake and skipped this step. About 8 weeks later I noticed some mis-wiring on some amps and had to fix it myself. If I had caught that earlier before my integrator left, he could have fixed it for me.

Hopefully this will help some of you through the process of selecting the right sound board for you and your space!

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Worship Matters My Mind: What Do I Believe?

Here is the next installment of Worship Matters. This comes from chapter 3 entitled “My Mind: What Do I Believe?”

It’s important to know and love the truth about God because you would like Him more after discovering what He’s really like. God calls us not only to love Him but to “love the truth” about Him (2 Thessalonians 2:10). We worship the One who says He is the truth and who tells us, “the truth will set you free” (John 14:6; John 8:32). God wants everyone “to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And He reveals His wrath against those who “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). Jesus said He would send “the Spirit of truth,” and He asked God to sanctify His disciples “in the truth,” which he identified as God’s Word (John 16:3; 17:17).

The better (i.e., the more accurately) we know God through His Word, the more genuine our worship will be. In fact, the moment we veer from what is true about God, we’re engaging in idolatry.

So, where do we find a right knowledge of God? In the revealed truth of Scripture. But how do we get our arms around everything the Bible says about God? It takes thoughtful, disciplined study.

That introduces two words many Christians are uncomfortable with – theology and doctrine.

Theology literally means “the study of God.” It includes our concept of God as a result of that study (or lack thereof). So every Christian, musical, technical or otherwise, is already a theologian.

Doctrine is a word meaning “what is taught.” Doctrine is everything the Bible teaches on a particular topic, such as worship or holiness or the church or spiritual gifts. Paul told Titus that a leader in a church “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

The study of doctrine isn’t opposed to studying the Bible; it is studying the Bible. It’s how we find out what God is like, what He wants us to believe, how He wants us to worship.

So that means we need to be reading. We need to be studying. Because we’ll be learning about God for the rest of our lives.

We need help to learn about God! While we can learn a lot about God through scripture, we can us other people to help us understand God’s Word more clearly than we can on our own.

When someone suggests we should be reading books that are more theologically substantive, we may tend to respond, “I’m no scholar. They’re too deep.” But authors of books like these can offer invaluable assistance for wrapping our minds around the Spirit-inspired teachings of Scripture. That’s why we should take time not only to study Scripture, but also to learn from writers whose books challenges us and help us mine the riches of God’s Word.

Mind and heart belong together. Strong, passionate desires for God flow from and encourage the faithful, thoughtful study of God – His nature, character, and works.

If our doctrine is accurate but our hearts are cold toward God Himself, our corporate worship will be true but lifeless. Or if we express fervent love for God but present vague, inaccurate, or incomplete ideas of Him to those we’re leading, our worship will be emotional but misleading – and possibly idolatrous. Neither option brings God glory.

My prayer for myself and every worship leader (production crew member) is that we’ll become as familiar with the Word of Truth as we are with our computers, cameras and sound boards. Hopefully even more so. If we do, there’s a strong possibility people are going to walk away from our gatherings more amazed by our God than by our music and production quality.

Worship Matters

Worshipping while we are serving the church body. Is it even possible to worship while we are clicking on lyric slides, moving faders, or moving a camera around to get that perfect shot? Of course it is! Everything we do is worship!

Colossians 3:1-4, 17

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Throughout this summer and next semester, I’ll be posting my teaching through a book called “Worship Matters” by Bob Kauflin and apply it to the technical world.

This bit comes from chapter 2; My Heart: What Do I Love?

Each of us has a battle raging within us over what we love most – God or something else. As Christians we’re sometimes like the people described in 2 Kings 17:33: “they feared the Lord but also served their own gods.” We fear the Lord externally, doing all the right things on Sunday morning – singing, strumming a guitar (running pro presenter, camera, light board or sound board), lifting our hands – yet actively serve false gods throughout the week. We profess to love the true God but actually love false idols. It’s a condition that God, in His mercy, is committed to changing.

…I want to make it clear from the start that worship isn’t primarily about music, techniques, liturgies, songs or methodologies. It’s about our hearts. It’s about what and who we love more than anything. Jesus said the greatest commandment is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, emphasis added). While it’s simplistic to say that worship is love, it’s a fact that what we love most will determine what we genuinely worship.

God wants us to love Him more that our instruments and music. More than our possessions, food, and ministry. More than our wife and children. More than our own lives.

That doesn’t mean we can’t love anything else. Or that we shouldn’t love anything else. But we can’t love anything in the right way unless we love God more.

How do I know what I love the most? By looking at my life outside of Sunday morning. What do I enjoy the most? What do I spend the most time doing? Where does my mind drift to when I don’t have anything else to do? What am I passionate about? What do I spend my money on? What makes me angry when I don’t get it? What do I feel depressed without? What do I fear losing the most?

Our answers to those questions will lead us straight to the God or gods we love and worship.

That’s why as worship leaders (production crew members) our primary concern can’t be song preparation, creative arrangements, or the latest cool gear. Our primary concern has to be the state of our hearts.

The great hymn writer Isaac Watts once wrote: The Great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it: The Lord sees and judges the heart; He has no regard to outward forms of worship, if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly for God.

Is it a matter of infinite importance to you? Unquestionably it is to God. And when it becomes a matter of infinite importance to us, we’re beginning to grasp the heart of leading worship.

Live Streaming Church Services, is it worth it?

How could live streaming a service benefit the church body?

While I was working at a church in Irving, we decided it would benefit us to stream the services live for a few reasons. One minor reason was because other churches had already set a precedent. This only helped us consider the concept, but not enough to pursue it. The biggest reason was to allow church members who were sick or away on vacation to tune in and see how their church was doing while they were gone and to still feel connected to their church family. I have had many people personally tell me how wonderful it was to be in the mountains in Colorado, the beaches of California or among the land of 1000 lakes, and still be able to watch a live stream of their church worshipping our Almighty God.

Being connected to a church family is very important to our walk as Christians. God wired us as social beings because He is a very social being. He desires to be in a relationship with us so badly, he sent His son to die on a cross to forgive our sins so that we could be in fellowship with Him!

“The church exists primarily for two closely correlated purposes: to worship God and to work for His kingdom in the world … The church also exists for a third purpose, which serves the other two: to encourage one another, to build one another up in faith, to pray with and for one another, to learn from one another and teach one another, and to set one another examples to follow, challenges to take up, and urgent tasks to perform. This is all part of what is known loosely as fellowship.”

― N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Christians have tried alternative forms of fellowship because work, leisure, or other circumstances is prohibiting them from fellowshipping with their church family in person.

Christians in the 60’s-90’s would ask for a bulletin from a Sunday they missed because they knew the entire service and songs could be found in there. They could then try and experience the worship their church family did on that Sunday gathering by singing through the songs in their own home and then share their experiences with their friends during their next fellowship time.

Current generations in the context of an internet driven and super connected society, look toward watching their church’s service live over the internet and then share what they’ve learned or how God has moved them on social media and then fellowship with their friends in real time. The tools technology gives us is astounding!

Ultimately, the two churches I have been the technical director for have decided to pursue streaming services online because we believed it fulfills and encourages the church’s purposes. To worship God and to work for His kingdom in the world. The live stream is ultimately a tool for the local congregation to encourage one another, build each other up in faith, to pray with and for one another and all of the other purposes the church has for Christians.

Redeeming Technology

Christians are at war, a spiritual war! There are battles being won and lost every day all around us in the visible and invisible realms. Jesus Christ, our King, has given us a mission to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19).

Ephesians 6:10-18

“…be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

I suggest, along with the power of the Holy Spirit and armor of God, we leverage all of the tools he’s given us to accomplish that mission, even the internet and all of the technologies connected to it.

The Internet is filled with a vast amount of information and is growing by the second! New technologies like smart phones, tablets and computers are being used by us to add to that information second by second. All of that information we are amassing is not inherently good or bad. It’s the content and context of the information that makes it good or bad.

So, why does the topic of redeeming technology even matter if it’s not even good or bad? Tools are not a good thing or a bad thing. They are really only useful or not useful. People have leveraged technology as a tool to fulfill their needs of learning, growing and socializing with one another. Our society is inherently evil, based on what Romans 3:23 tells us. We needed a redeemer, so God sent his only son to die on the cross for our sins. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and has a personal relationship with Him will not die, but have everlasting life. God also created us in His image (Gen. 1:27). This means he gave us a desire to create, to love, to seek justice and many other attributes. We as Christians, should also have a desire (that God put into us) to use everything He’s given us to His glory, further His Kingdom and to put technology in a Christ centered context. We see this illustrated to us in Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In that challenge He’s given us in verse 17 is where I find myself every day as a Technical Director at a church. My goal is to harness the greatness of the tools he’s given me and use them for His glory!

I challenge you today to use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Foursquare, Youtube, Instagram, and every other form of social media to further God’s Kingdom. Post a verse or share what God has done for you so that you can encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ to continue on in this spiritual battle we find ourselves in!