I am currently addressing the seven most frequent questions or complaints I hear about our campus. At the Osage campus of PLC we do things a bit differently than most churches in our area and I know that many of you want to know many of the “why” answers behind what we do. I hope that these posts will clarify things for you and give you a resource to point people to who are asking these questions.
In this post our Worship & Production Coordinator, Matt Faulkner, gives answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding our worship environment. Here goes!
Today I get the privilege of writing to you on one of the most controversial topics in church history. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to the arts in church, musician or not. I would like to take a moment to explain to you why our services may look a little different from what you’re used to. Whether you know it or not, what we do is intentional.
Please know, before I get started, that my intent is not to look down upon other church’s that may do things differently. I admire any church that is successfully using the arts to accomplish their mission. At Prairie Lakes, our mission is to reach Iowa. The intentionality of which we use the arts in our services is effectively helping us do that (trust me, I wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t). Here are some of the whys behind what we do!
Why the rock music?
Let’s start with a brief history on where the “style of music” controversy began. Many of us wouldn’t think the organ could be controversial, but in fact it was quite controversial for it’s time. When the organ was first brought into the church it was only used for playing a single note to give the starting pitch for the chant. Around 500AD the church began to use the organ to signal the entering of the Pope. Many Christians protested over bringing such a secular instrument from culture into the church. Ever since, we’ve been through periods in church history called “Worship Wars”. I must say that I am glad we appear to finally be past the most recent of those periods. The church should always change, with the expressed purpose of accomplishing its mission. If we are all about mission, our style of music should serve that mission. The danger is when the style becomes the mission.
At Prairie Lakes we feel like the Rock/Alternative format of music has the greatest impact in furthering our mission. It appeals to a wide audience and also allows us to reach many who are currently not being reached by other churches in our community. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about our worship experiences and are honored to lead you in worship each week. Style will always be changing as we continually strive to be relevant to the community we’re trying to reach.
Why use lights and haze?
Our vision as a Worship and Production community is to intentionally create a beautiful and meaningful space where people can encounter (engagement) and respond to (next steps) God without distraction. Lighting and haze are critical in helping us accomplish that, by creating that environment through lighting the stage or one of our set designs. Haze has a specific, yet very important, use each week. The hazer takes water based liquid and heats it to a vapor. With the vapor in the air you can actually see the beams of light coming from the lights. Without haze the lights don’t have near the same effect.
Why does the volume seem loud on Sunday’s?
The goal of the Prairie Lakes Church Worship and Production staff is to find the BEST volume for our weekend services. There are many parameters that factor into the ‘best’ volume. They change from week to week, and sometimes even service to service. We don’t try to make it too loud, nor as “loud as we can get away with”. We are engineering the sound of the room to appropriately and effectively support what is happening on stage and on the screen. Cultural relevance drives us towards being confident with our sound, not timid. The sound level also changes with the congregation’s level of engagement. We know where these levels should be, according to OSHA. Our levels are validated by exhaustive checks, cross checks, consultants, contractors and engineers.
“Are we too loud?”
The answer is a confirmed, confident and qualified ‘no’.
We are operating well below OSHA noise exposure regulations.
“Are we monitoring the volume?”
The answer is an enthusiastic and professional "yes". Every weekend, before the doors to the Worship Center open, our staff has gone through the room with a dB meter to make sure the levels are in compliance with our standard level. During the services, we have our Audio Engineers walking the room with the DB meter to help monitor the volume. We believe we have two responsibilities; to comply with regulations and understand these measurements, and to also be an example of safety in this area.
“It’s still too loud for me!”
If you feel the volume is too loud for you, please still know that we have considered YOUR safety for anywhere in the room. If you prefer, we have several slightly quieter seating options. One is at the far sides and back of the Worship Center. Another is in the middle of the front three seating rows. These seating areas still have excellent sight lines to the stage and screen.
Overall, our volume levels are all part of creating an environment that you can engage in. We’ve found that people are less self conscious and more likely to sing out if they know that the person next to them can’t hear them singing. Singing in public is difficult for some. Our goal is to create a relevant environment where people can engage.
Is it ok to raise my hands and clap during worship?
Many people come from a background that minimized physical expression in worship. While not the end-all, expressiveness in worship can reflect an inward reality and is appropriate biblically. God created our bodies to glorify Him (1 Cor. 6:20), and commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This certainly includes our physical being. In scripture we see that physical expression is both commanded and spontaneously modeled as a way of giving glory to God. (Ex. 12:27; Job 1:20; Ps. 47:1; Ps. 95:6). Biblical expressions include clapping, singing, bowing, kneeling, lifting hands, shouting, playing instruments, dancing, and standing in awe (Ps. 47:1; Eph. 5:19; Ps. 95:6; Ps. 134:2; Ps. 33:1; Rev. 15:2; Ps. 149:3; Ps. 22:23). As you can see, there is a lot of freedom to be expressive in our worship to the Lord!
I hope this blog post has helped to answer some of the questions you have about our worship experiences. We are so grateful that you join us each week as we accomplish God’s mission here in Iowa. If you have any questions about anything, I’d love to hear from you or meet with you! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.