Sunday, November 19, 2017

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Posting About Loud Worship Music

I’ve learned some interesting but very disturbing things since 2015, when I began posting about the problem of loud worship music.

For many worshippers — a growing number, in fact — contemporary church services are presenting a problem: loud worship music.

For a while, I thought I was the only one who had a problem with the issue. But since posting about it in 2015, I’ve quickly learned that this is not the case. And that’s the first thing on the list.

1. I’m not the only one bothered by this.

I’m routinely getting posts from people who say they’ve either considered leaving a church they otherwise love because of deafening music, and those who’ve already left their church. Others have said they wait out in the lobby until the worship music is over, and then find a seat inside the sanctuary when it’s time for the message.

No worship pastor should be happy with this: it’s costing people a weekly worship experience all because they won’t turn the volume down a bit.

2. The church isn’t handling concerns about loud worship music very well.

In a follow-up post from this past April, I wrote about someone who received a less-than-ideal response when they spoke with their pastor about the problem.

“The pastor has mocked, from the pulpit, those who have brought up concerns about the loud music saying that they should respect the musicians who work so hard to lead us into worship,” one commenter wrote. “These people were not gossiping, just bringing up their genuine concerns.”

Complaining about loud music is not, in any way, disrespecting the musicians, or even the audio operator. It’s protecting your own hearing.

It astounds me that anyone wouldn’t see this.

3. It really is driving people away from church.

One “solution” for this issue that churches offer is foam earplugs. The idea is that you cram them into your ears so you can reduce the amount of sound.

Let’s think about that: What if you went to a fine restaurant and found the food was too spicy to be enjoyed. You call over your server and complain that the seasoning is too strong and you can’t handle it. So the server apologizes and returns with an oversized clothespin that he clamps down on your nose to prevent you from tasting the food.

How would you rate that restaurant’s customer service on Yelp?

I’d be willing to wager that not one of the people who eagerly push the plugs would find that kind of solution acceptable, yet that’s exactly what they’re doing.

And churchgoers are becoming former churchgoers because of it.

“Ive been bringing my 85-year-old mother to church and neither she nor I can go into the service and we leave before the benediction due to the loud volume of the music,” one commenter, Elise, wrote.

One commenter, Jim, said his church has a policy about complaining: “They say: ‘Don’t…it’s not about you.’ I am thinking about leaving the church but know it’s the same all over.”

Is this really the way worship pastors want their parishioners feeling?

4. It’s causing unfair guilt on the part of parishioners.

Some of the pastors who are responding to concerns seem to be doing the unthinkable: trying to place blame on the parishioners themselves. And even worse, for some, it seems to be working:

“I’ve been going to the same church for seven years, but the music has become so loud and vibrates in my stomach,” another commenter, JoAnn, wrote. “I am 67 and can’t enjoy it anymore so [I’m] forced to go somewhere else. I feel kind of lost and guilty…like I’m doing wrong by quitting the church.”

5. It’s time church worship pastors fix this problem.

This is a problem that’s not going away, at least until the volume comes down. Comment after comment about similar experiences shows that it’s threatening to push people away from corporate worship.

There has to be a better way than this to help people get into a spirit of worship without threatening their hearing.

Do you find the music is too loud in your church? If you’ve complained, what answer did you receive?

1 Comment

  1. While I don’t attend church, I certainly agree with you that this is an issue that needs to be addressed! You should not have to take the risk of damaging your hearing while attending your weekly service. Even if no permanent damage is done, it is still an issue if people find they cannot stay in the sanctuary while the music is being played.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.