The Keeper of the Vibe

It happens every Sunday in churches around North America. It’s something I look for every time I visit,…

It happens every Sunday in churches around North America. It’s something I look for every time I visit, consult with or secret shop a church – it’s the keeper of the vibe and how he uses that position of influence. I’m talking about the FOH audio engineer and his use of pre and post-service music.

As both a worship pastor and a tech pastor, I used to intentionally and strategically (plus creatively) put together a pre-service and a post-service mix. I thought through what we wanted people to feel when they walked in the room and what we wanted them to feel upon exiting.

I dare say the most crucial part of execution on a given Sunday is the sound engineer hitting play as soon as the service ends (cued by the pastor saying, “See you next week.” or something like that). I know that sensitivity is key and knowing the vibe, feel and spirit of the service is crucial.

Maybe it’s not appropriate to rock their faces off. Maybe it’s Good Friday and you want people to leave in silence or you just finished taking communion and you want to tone it down and go with something more chill. I used to have a chill version of well-known worship songs that we used at Bent Tree a lot.

But 9 times out of 10, you want your sound engineer to hit play on something upbeat and positive as people file out. Have a great song cued and ready to go as most people will only hear that first song you play. Choose it well.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, people sit through several songs before the service begins. Choose them well. I’ve seen churches use chill versions of songs like we did at Bent Tree, well known songs from the radio, instrumental versions of songs by Coldplay and U2 (like my friends at Lake Pointe in Rockwell, TX) and anything from Owl City to DJ Andy Hunter. Something like Postal Service or the Sunsets and Sushi album from David Crowder Band can be great, too. What are your practices at your church?

Do you use the same old CD every week? Do you use the same playlist on iTunes? Do you put together a special weekly playlist? Do you incorporate songs that people will hear in the upcoming service? Do you (at the end of the service) play a reprise and bring back a key song from the set that day?

The key is to not take these special and influential moments lightly. Choose your songs wisely and creatively. Be intentional and strategic. You, my friend, are the keeper of the vibe!

Please share what songs and genre of music you use in the comment section. How loud do you play the music when people are walking in? One thing I love about visiting NewSpring in Anderson, SC is that they rock your face off during the prelude time. They honestly, have the loudest walk-in music of any church I’ve been to. They also have a female voice-over that shares a few announcements with the music still playing underneath at about a minute or two before the service begins. So… What’s the vibe like at your church?