Why Is It So Loud?
If you have ever been to a service at The Fathers's House I am sure you have noticed our music can get pretty loud. Maybe even to the point where you ask yourself is it too loud? Is the volume going to damage my ears? Is it even biblical to run the volume this loud? Why? My hope is to give you answers for all those question by the end of this blog.
Let's start with the safety question. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards state that the average person can experience hearing loss when subjected to a continuous 85 decibels (A weighting) for eight hours. That's the volume of standing next to an idling bulldozer or your kitchen blender. At 95 decibels you can experience hearing loss after four continuous hours. If you were to mow your lawn with a gas mower you could only do that for about 40 minutes before getting hearing loss from the continuous 107 decibel it puts out. All this to say, we are aware of the standards and are very careful to adhere to these standards and never put anyone at risk.
On an average weekend our services run from 75-90 minutes long, but for sake of argument we will round to 2 hours even just to be safe. If our service runs 2 hours you could sustain 100 decibels for the that length before you ever have a chance of experiencing hearing loss. That means for 2 hours straight you had 100 decibels played to you continuously without ceasing. But rarely do we run the sound at that level or for continuously that long. We run on average around 94-98 during worship (at the booth, up front it would be around 100-102 at the loud moments) depending on service and rarely the whole time. With how dynamic the music set and service is we run the entire service on average around 82 for 2 hours. We are constantly checking and rechecking just to be sure and to hold ourselves to a certain standard. The bottom line is that we care about the safety of the people in our gathering, and we want to assure you that there is no chance of hearing damage for anyone attending of any age.
Now with that said... people still from time to time complain about the sound level. Why? Well some have more sensitive ears then others. Some hear certain frequencies more harsh then others. Everyones hearing is a little different. On average 10% of people have hearing conditions that no matter how good the sound is and how well the sound is mixed they will still feel its too loud and hurts them in some fashion. Because of all these different things we offer ear plugs in our lobby. We don't want anyone to not be able to engage in worship and our service. On another side of it sometimes the mix of the music can be what pains some one so we put a lot of time into training our volunteers and staff engineers who mix all the sound and we also make sure all gear is maintained properly. We want to make sure that everything we do is excellent and not hindering you with meeting with God when you walk in the building.
Is It Biblical?
Now that we have the safety reasons out of the way... why biblically do we mix it so loud? While we don't believe that music at church must always be loud, there is scriptural support for the idea that it often should be. Here is why:
"Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts."
Psalm 33:3, emphasis mine
"Praise Him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise Him with tambourine and dance;
praise Him with strings and pipe!
Praise Him with sounding cymbals;
praise Him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150:3-6, emphasis mine
"David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy."
1 Chronicles 15:16, emphasis mine
Now, while we might have added a few instruments to the list, the general vibe remains the same. We have a big God, and to praise Him appropriately, we just might need to make a big sound.
The idea that worship music should be played only quiet and contemplative is simply not biblical. We have a lot of freedom to worship God in a variety of ways through music, and we see this expressed in scripture, from an impromptu tambourine jam on the shore of the Red Sea (Ex. 15:19-21), to a huge dance party in the streets of Jerusalem (1 Chron. 15:16-28), and a couple of saints singing midnight hymns in prison (Acts 16:25). When we get to heaven, the angels and all the redeemed will raise their voice and cry out together to praise the Lamb who was slain. This will not be a quiet sound (Rev. 19:1-3)
Until then, we worship in less stellar circumstances, often with broken equipment, new volunteers, guitars that go our of tune, and a million other distractions. But in the midst of it all, I pray we can take joy with the Psalmists in praising our God with loud shouts of joy, and quiet times as well.
We don't run the music loud for loud's sake. The main reason that the music is loud at our church is we are gathered together to celebrate and proclaim our salvation through the work of Jesus. When people want to celebrate, they throw a party. And when people throw a party, they play loud music and dance. And because, as Christians, we have much to celebrate, TFH will be more like wedding receptions than funerals.