Buy a dB meter...for the CONGREGATION!

Have you ever tried to actually measure how loud the congregation sings?

You may have heard of dB meters or decibel meters. They're little tools that audio techs can use to measure how loud the sound system is. (to be fair, that's an oversimplification...there are many factors that can make a reading of 82 dB sound much worse than 92 dB...but that's a different Fertilizer, or you can ask Chris to go deeper)

But have you ever, EVER(!) considered using a dB meter to track the congregation's volume output rather than the loudspeaker's volume output?

We put lots of thought and conversation into "how loud we should run the mix" and whether or not the congregation will sing more or less if it's louder or quieter. But what if our focus is misplaced?

I'd love to somehow measure the congregation's singing in dB and put a live readout on the front screens. :)

Ok, not really like this. But here's my point.

Rather than starting with what "our congregation is like" to determine what they will or won't do, let's start with a better model. What is worship like in heaven?

We have two clues from the language in Revelation 19:1-2a (ESV)
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God..."

  1. Loud Voice. I believe this is just the nature of heavenly worship - voices spent in passionate proclamation of loud adoration. So as leaders, let's make it easy for our congregation to sing at the top of our lungs - great songs, full of shared meaning, revealing God, taught well, played well.
  2. "Hallelujah" - it's the most commonly used Hebrew word for praise. In fact, some translations of this verse say "Praise the Lord" rather than "Hallelujah." This compound word comes from Halal and Jah (0r Yah, short for Yahweh.) But the real clue comes from the first part - halal. What does that mean and what kind of praise is it referring to? It denotes a letting go of restraints and inhibitions. In their book Worship As It Is In Heaven, John Dickson and Chuck D. Pierce say about the most animated Hebrew word for praise: "It literally means to make a show of celebrating, with boasting and continuous, noisy, foolish-sounding raving." Um, wow. Not your typical Sunday morning conduct in most churches in the USA. They go on to compare what it would look like with celebrating for a sports team, a metaphor that I'm personally tired of because a) the Creator is way more than a sports's just too far of a category jump for me, and b) most sports fans are just not "raving" enough. There is, however, one sport that's different. Futbol. Not US Soccer. (sorry, US Soccer fans) When a whole country is lifting their voices to is a taste of heaven. In 2014, we were in my homeland of Costa Rica and our team was in the final 16 teams of the World Cup. This short clip will give you a small taste of what "halal" is all about. Check it!

Or maybe this longer lets you see how Ticos in different countries react to this epic moment!

So for a moment, forget how loud your sound system should or shouldn't be, and get about encouraging the loud, rowdy, celebration of your congregation. Maybe it would even sound like a "triumphal entry" this Sunday? ;)