I’m not trying to beat a dead horse when it comes to loud worship music, but I think this is a topic that’s worth exploring a bit further.
I’m still receiving comments about a 2015 post titled, “When Worship Music is Too Loud, What Do Worshippers Do?” That tells me it’s a topic that has become a sore spot for many people who are feeling the pain — literally — of music that’s simply too loud.
Last week, I wrote about a comment I received regarding a pastor’s completely inappropriate response to complaints about the music that were akin to “blaming the victim” by accusing them of not respecting the “hard work” the musicians do to prepare for Sunday morning.
I’ve also addressed the absurd strategy of handing out ear plugs to people who feel the music is too loud.
That’s exactly like a restaurant receiving complaints about its food being too spicy and responding by handing out clothespins to clamp people’s noses closed so they can’t taste the food.
But I received a new response from reader Birdie, who explained her situation:
I appreciate this article. I think the loud music is a problem for a lot of people, and perhaps especially older adults and babies. I am in my early 60’s, but I have felt physical discomfort for years in church services due to the decibels. My husband has a decibel app, and our church’s registers at 78 to 82 Db. I MUST wear ear plugs or it is painful, but I do have sensitive hearing. They offer ear plugs at most of our services. What grieves me, is that I can only hear myself worship, when wearing my ear plugs. I can barely hear anyone, including myself, when I try not to wear them. It’s a weird sort of isolation. I am also grieved when I see people with young babies exposing their tender ears to music too loud for their development, out of ignorance. Why does the music HAVE to be so loud? What is wrong with hearing other people around you sing? I recently went to a church service with just an acoustic guitar, microphone and a couple of singers. We sang many of the same songs as my church but I had such a wonderful experience of worship, without feeling isolated. I miss corporate worship.
Pastors, I hope you were paying attention. You might want to reread that a few times.
Because in case you missed it, when the worship music is too loud, you are cheating your parishioners out of a worship experience. You’re making them duck out of your sanctuary where they could otherwise be part of the worship. You’re making them stay outside of the room where it’s “safe” and their hearing is protected.
And some of them never make it into the sanctuary at all.
Is that what you had in mind?
I hope not.
Maybe it’s time, at long last, to walk up to the sound board and simply turn things down. If less volume is enough to turn away worshippers, then they were clearly there for the wrong reason to begin with.