Our church is considering going unplugged every week--maybe a microphone for the speaker but little or no powerpoint/LCD/sound system. Has anyone had success with it? We have an artistic and somewhat alternative crowd since we're near a university and there's a longing for things that are human and real. Our auditorium holds only around 170 (and is a traditional church building from pre-microphone days) so it's doable. Also since we're downsizing staff it would free us up to commit our time and finances to other, more pressing needs. Any ideas? Suggestions?
I'd keep the sound system for presence and clarity of instruments and vocals.
You could go "Opry -style" and just have a since condenser mic - real warm & intimate, and the speaker could use it, too.
Wouldn't need a sound tech unless you needed more volume and feedback was an issue.
Regarding the rest (projector, p-point), lose it! :D
By the way - I just heard the Packway Handle Band at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta and they all four played and sang into a single ATXXX condenser mic. I have to assume the pattern was set for omni or figure 8. But man that sounded really warm and organic.
An artistic and alternative crowd near a university may possibly include instrumentalists -- meaning people that play acoustic flutes, trumpets, violins, celli, Native American/African/Caribbean/Celtic drums (and lots of things containing letter sequences such as "dh" and "zz").
I'm an a sort of sabbatical (being one of those downsized staff) and have been visiting the churches of our friends ("we'd love to worship with ou, but I'm on staff..."). We've been to around fifteen different fellowships representing everything from Orthodox to Bapticostal, and in each found the joy and beauty of worshiping God through music. The vast majority used a traditional ("plugged-in") worship band. If I added up the congregations it would represent over 2,500 people (and fifteen platforms), yet in the realm of acoustic instruments I heard one (1) flute and a tracker (mechanical action) pipe organ, plus a few plugged-in acoustic guitars. That was it. Everything else was electric and drum, or drum and electric, or electric drums, and individually-mic'd singers.
Granted, it was summer. A few of these churches had choirs that took the warm months off. But where have the instrumentalists gone (and choirs, for that reason)? In my case, I was required to abandon these and go "plugged-in" because that was supposed to be the only way to "reach young people." Now I'm working in a public school and am finding that 1) young people have a much wider variety of musical tastes than adults presuppose, and 2) our plugged-in-ness and the theory that music "drives the service" has led us into a performance-oriented world, while overwhelmingly the upcoming generation is longing - desperately - for things that are human and real.
Most of my life I was in charge of building an orchestra out of miscellaneous instrumentalists; it was a true joy, a privilege to be able to help musicians find their voice and make "praise Him with the trumpet!" They play in weird keys and need a coordinating hand, so if you don't have staff, you need a dedicated volunteer to manage them.
And managing, acoustic or plugged, will always be with you. When we finally got enough mic's (four) that worked without buzzing and popping we put the men's quartet into them. It worked great in practice, and we got the levels all set up for the sound man (who refused to come to rehearsals) for service. Turns out the sound man didn't like the lead tenor, and simply turned his voice way down. This happened a couple of times before we caught on (maybe that's why I don't trust monitors to this day!). Mandy -- there are some really nice things about having only one microphone.
Going acoustic doesn't cure all problems of unreality and unhumanity in the church! But I wish to encourage you about this brave experiment you wish to launch into.
Wow! What a thoughtful and encouraging response, Greg. I feel that many in the church are leaning towards similar ways of thinking (just heard a great interview of Belle and Sebastian which you might enjoy
where he comments about contemporary christian music http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130366511) so I'm excited to see where God leads us in the next generation of music post-worship wars!
thanks again for sharing your ideas and experiences. Nice to know I'm not alone!