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Letter to the Congregation


Why do you come to church? You probably come to gather with your friends and mentors, so you can participate in church activities, and be taught the Word of God. The main reason is to be taught, to learn. How do you learn? Most learning at churches is done through listening to sermons and through the music sung or performed from the platform.

We’ve all been in a church where hearing or understanding the minister is so difficult that we wonder why we’re even there. We’ve also been to churches where the congregational singing is difficult at best, and learning new songs is impossible. We’ve also heard the choir sing (well, if you actually heard them at all), but probably didn’t have any idea what they were singing.

How can we expect to learn anything if we can’t understand what’s said or sung? How can we grow if we don’t learn? If we’re not growing, then what’s happening…?

Well over 90% of all churches have problems with the sanctuary acoustics and audio system. In many churches, one or both are so poor that the congregation attends just because being physically present is important. On the way out, they pick up a tape recording of the service so they can go home and hear what was taught.

Acoustical problems are very common in churches, as common as having a piano or organ. No amount of electronics will ever fix an acoustical problem; the laws of physics don’t allow it, and the laws of physics are not about to change anytime soon. Fix the acoustical problems in the room, and the piano will sound better. The organ will sound better. The choir will sing better and sound better. The orchestra or band will be able to play together better, and the soloists and small choral groups or worship teams will actually be able to lead the congregation in worship and even teach them new songs in a week or two rather than months. When the finance chairperson asks for money to fund a new project, the congregation doesn’t bring jars of honey. When the minister teaches his or her lesson, people are moved, grow, and the church reaps the benefits of a healthy congregation.

Just as poor acoustics limits how well any audio system can operate in a room, good acoustics can make a mediocre audio system work well, and a poor system will be seen for all of it’s faults much more clearly. Instead of investing a dollar into the audio system and only getting 10-cents of performance, with good acoustics you can put in a dollar and get a dollar (or more!) performance level. Not only that, but you won’t be replacing the piano and organ every 5 years thinking there’s something wrong with it or that it’s worn out.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often been embarrassed when I’ve invited a friend to church, only to see their forehead wrinkle up when they don’t understand what’s being said or sung. If we’re used to “church-talk” and have trouble understanding it, how much worse it must be for someone not accustomed to this “church-talk” to try to figure out what’s being said.

The Bible tells us to go and spread the Word; it also tells us that faith comes by hearing. If we can’t hear or understand, what does that do to our faith?

It’s well known that kids with hearing problems are often behind in their studies and education as compared to kids their same age with normal hearing. If we can’t hear or understand, it greatly stunts our education and our faith. How can we knowingly let this continue to happen?


A concerned Christian and church audio/acoustics professional

-Blake Engel,
All Church Sound