Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS...Check the Sound System

image Too often I think that in preaching, my only responsibilities are to prepare an appropriate message and deliver it to the best of my ability.  Both of those ARE my responsibilities. 

But it is also part of my responsibility to make sure that I can be heard.  And that includes making sure that the sound system is up and functional (if one is used). 

Example: The last two nights I have been speaking at bonfire here at this youth camp.  BOTH nights there were MAJOR sound issues.  The first night I showed up a little early to check out the system (half-way the right thing to do--I should have done it much earlier.)  I found that the one that was there was TOTALLY unfunctional.  I tried to work my ten-thumbs magic on it, but could never get it to work.  The musicians started and there was a mid-level panic to find an alternative.  I kept saying that I would just speak without a sound system.  That is what they taught us to do back in the days when we were taught homiletics in the early 70's.  (But that is a rant for another post). Even though for some reason it was OK for the musicians not to use a sound system & the camp director to make announcements without a sound system, it was not OK for ME to preach naked (without a system).

After the musicians "punted" we were able to get a portable system down from another building and get it set up.  I had to use a wired microphone, but it worked fair.  It actually was much better than Tuesday night.  I was told that "they" would take responsibility for getting the system brought down each night and set up.  I "didn't need to worry."

So last night I show up at the last minute (HUGE UNFORGIVEABLE MISTAKE) and find that an entirely different system is in place. Not the one that was there the night before and, instead of using the wired mic from the night before, I am to go back to using the lavaliere.  I had noticed that the lav didn't have a clip on it (to attach it to my clothes), but since I was now using the wired mic, no need to think about it .  Now it HAD to think about it. 

And although there was a system in place, it had not been adequately checked.   It squealed to high heaven almost everywhere in my speaking area.  The only place it didn't squeal much was right against the bonfire--literally RIGHT against the bonfire. So here I am in a sweatshirt that I can't remove quickly because I have paper clipped a wireless mic to it, trying to speak and not move because if I move either the system drops me or it squeals.  Yikes!!! I got hotter and hotter and hotter and at one point my mind literally was thinking, OK if your clothes catch on fire, drop and roll...drop and roll. 

So you know what I did this afternoon.  I was over at the empty bonfire area, hauling out the sound system, setting it up in different configurations and making sure I could be heard. EXACTLY the thing I should have done Sunday afternoon before my first speaking presentation.

Part of my responsibility is to make sure that I can be heard.  Normally, I am blessed with conscientious and talented sound personnel who make me sound great! (As great as they can considering the material they have to work with.)  And I am VERY thankful for them.  But ultimately it is MY responsibility to make sure that the processes and people are in place so that the message God gives me can be heard.  Hopefully tonight I have that taken care of....

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