How Loud Should Our Church Music Be?

By Jordan Richmond

If you have any semblance of modern, band-driven worship, I guarantee you’ve had complaints about volume. I had a guy who would stick toilet paper in his ears every week and obnoxiously pace the foyer during the music set.

Conventional wisdom tells us that more volume equals more energy. After all people don’t want to hear themselves sing right?

So what’s the perfect volume? In this case, Disney has the answer. Disney seems to have a knack for managing expectations and providing the best user experience on the planet. They can teach us a thing or two about worship. So during my last visit to Disney World I decided to conduct an experiment. Every show I attended I would take out my iPhone and fire up the RTA Lite app. This handy (and free) little tool let’s me measure the decibel level at certain frequencies. I can see the level of the bass, mids, and trebles. The results shocked me.

  • Decibel Level – At every show and concert, the average level was about 75 db. That’s pretty soft—about the same as a dial tone with the phone up to your ear. Occasionally it might pop up to 85 db (city traffic), but not much more (hearing damage occurs at 90-95 db with sustained exposure). It was amazing how an explosion or kick drum had incredible intensity when everything else was at a pleasant level.
  • Frequencies – The frequency spectrum was linear (as opposed to flat or the typical “smiley face” with enhanced lows and highs, and reduced mids). Bass was the loudest, and it would evenly taper off as it headed toward the higher frequencies. So the sound I heard was ultimately smooth. It had impact when it needed to, and was never shrill or brassy.
  • Other Factors – Admittedly the shows I attended were family friendly—inviting young and old. EPCOT did have more concert/dance adult-oriented venues later in the evening. These were significantly louder (too loud for my taste). Also, every Disney venue featured Meyer arrays and trained sound men, so the end product was excellent.

So what did I learn from Disney?

I observed everyone, babies to grandmas, enjoying their experience. They participated. I also realized that sound is something we cannot escape. We cannot turn off our ears. We can look at something else if a light is too bright, but we cannot divert our hearing.

I attended a church service that weekend and felt almost assaulted by the sound (around 90-95 db). Admittedly I’ve subjected my church to that numerous times and wondered why they didn’t participate as actively. By all means pump the volume for youth groups. But for the large corporate service featuring all age groups (or children’s worship), it might be a good idea to bring the volume down.

More volume does not necessarily equal more energy. It insults your listeners, and robs you of the head room you need to emphasize dynamics and impacts when you need to. Turn it down. Smooth it out.

How loud is your church? Would you respond differently if the volume were different?

Jordan Richmond is a worship pastor at Idlewild in Tampa, FL. He has also served other local churches in Florida, Kentucky, and the Cayman Islands.

Posted on April 17, 2013

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • I am reading this blog in year 2014 and have suffered hearing damage from staying in a church that had extreme loud services (95 – 105 dba typical). Children would cup their ears because it was so loud. Many wore ear plugs (I did). There was a blind couple that was in the church for awhile. They sit in the back but had to leave the church too. There hearing was all they had left! We spoke with the pastor continually for a period of over two years. Promises made. Sound levels down for a season but then…back up to deafening levels. I now wear a hearing aid and have ringing in the ears. It is not fun and no worship experience is worth it. My advice would be to get out of your church within three months if there is no real change. There is nothing spiritual about hearing loss!

    • Shamir Roshan says on

      I think that if more of us would get “db meters” and record the readings we get and/or ban together as a group to confront the noise makers we could put a stop to this type of selfish behavior. It is not the style of music it is the fact that this kind of protocol is detrimental to the unity and function of The Church and her peoples ability and desire to share God and His Love as our Messiah and Kinsman Redeemer between one another and so be His revealed Glory and Majesty to the lost souls around us.
      That couple should file a suit against that congregation and its pastor for the damage to their hearing. If more Chriistans would start filing law suits for this maybe it would wake these deaf sleepers up.

      One main thing my husband and I have seen is that in these congregations with the demonic sound levels many of the folks are wearing sticking something in their ears to muffle the noise or wear ear plugs. Many of these places furnish them at the door so, it is not like the leaders of the places do not know the sound is damaging. But the really stupid thing is no one seems to complain and insist on the change. Why are we Christians afraid to speak up when something is not right in The Church? Most folks we’ve spoken to say “well I thought it was loud too when I first came but, then I got used to it” – makes sense…like a lobster being boiled alive.
      We are trying to get some legislation in the Houston area and all Texas to force congregations and any indoors, closed area where people gather to meet a required low level (some where between 50 and 70 db) of sound. Smoking has been banned in public places and government areas so surely the same sort of thing can be done regarding noise.

      I am also a combat veteran so I have an added situation that certain levels of sound and lights cause me to have flashbacks – so where is the consideration to that too?

      • Debra Magrann says on

        I applaud you for your determination.

        I for one, believe that the Lord is not pleased with what has been going on in His Body for many reasons: the “holy laughter” craze that started in Canada, the infidelity of tv evangelists (and now both of them are back on ‘Christian’ tv), the “manna-festations of diamonds and gold”, and Todd Bentley’s “Fresh Fire” phoney revivals in Lakeland, FL. Outrageously loud worship music is just another indication that the enemy has invaded the camp and the watchmen are sleeping.

        For those of us who are sense-able and want to protect what is left of our hearing, keep the faith. The LORD’s hand is not too short to save, nor are his ears too dull to hear. This, too, shall pass. I pray that parents will not be lulled into a stupor that exposes their precious children to this abuse.

      • Ron Bartels says on

        I agree with your assessment. Have you though of meeting with church leadership to form a small group under the church, while they are going through this phase? I have found that in chamber meetings where the problem is presented without malice or bitterness has decent chance of being successful. It took three such off the record meetings to get approved as a small group, during church, off campus meeting, wherein we stream just the sermon and then stream our regular non rock worship music. You could consider it an off campus Sunday worship group.

      • Debra Magrann says on

        Thank you, Mr. Bartels, for your excellent remedy. Since I am not yet a member of this fellowship (I’ve been attending since just before Thanksgiving 2013), it is not my place to urge changes in such a small congregation (about 75-90). There is, however, potential. I did have a personal meeting with the Shepherd and had some dialogue with him. I do plan to move forward with formal membership; I am observing and praying for an opportunity to make my appeal. Thank you for your many posts. They are helpful.

      • Stuart Allsop says on

        Once again, this isn’t helpful since it isn’t realistic, and is based on a lack of understanding: You say “We are trying to get some legislation in the Houston area and all Texas to force congregations and any indoors, closed area where people gather to meet a required low level (some where between 50 and 70 db) of sound. ” If you did that, you would basically be banning conversation and all other forms of verbal communication! You would not even be allowed to talk to the person next to you, and all services would have to be conducted in total silence, with visuals only. You don’t seem to be aware that a typical conversation between two people at normal voice levels, measures at roughly 70 – 75 dB: So banning anything over 70 dB would mean that nobody would be allowed to talk at all! That hardly seems helpful for a church service.

        I realize that your intentions are good, and your only desire is to have more reasonable sound levels in churches, but you should probably get better information and understanding of acoustics before moving forward. A level of 70dB is just as unrealistic as a level of 120 dB. Suggesting such a thing is more likely to get you laughed at that taken seriously.

        There is also no need for your efforts to legislate, since legislation already exists: sound levels are already governed by law, both for outdoors and indoors. The problem is not lack of legislation: it is lack of enforcement, and lack of knowledge about sound and the harm it causes! Your efforts would probably produce far better results if you were to concentrate on spreading the word among churches regarding just how harmful loud sound is.

        Starting a campaign among your local churches to inform the pastors, leaders, sound team, musicians, and congregations of the issues, providing them with sound, solid, trustworthy information on hearing damage, and running seminars on the issue, would likely produce far better results than threatening to sue them. (However, you might find it rather hard to run a seminar by your own rules, of not exceeding 70 dB…)


  • I have been subscribed to comments regarding this blog since it’s posting earlier this year. I have read comment after comment that inaccurately sight decibel levels and where hearing damage begins. Opinion is opinion and fact is fact. Please post all the opinion you want regarding style and preference. That is the whole point of a blog and resulting comments. When you decide to cite facts, please look it up and verify what you are posting is accurate. OSHA and the more restrictive Niosh standards are easily accessible via a Google search.

    Spreading this disinformation is potentially very harmful to those who are trying to do things correctly and monitor safe levels in their church, just as the original article stirred unnecessary controversy by citing inaccurate levels from an uncalibrated iPhone that is often off by 10db or more.

    This is a very controversial and dividing subject. Let’s try to be accurate wherever and whenever we can be.

  • Pastor Dale says on

    I visited a church where the sound was way too high (completely unnecessary) and left with my ears ringing. For a year and a half afterwards I had to keep asking people to repeat themselves. Finally I had a hearing test and discovered that I had suffered permanent hearing loss in both ears. I was also told that “ringing ears” is a sign of nerve damage. I love contemporary Christian music and don’t mind it loud. But damaging peoples ears is not a loving thing to do and groups that think sound volume is the same as anointing are missing something. After suffering this injury, I started researching the topic of hearing loss and discovered frightening statistics indicating that there is an epidemic of hearing loss in America. One alarming stat said that 70% of students entering college have already suffered hearing loss, not only from loud concerts, but also from headphones turned up too high. I’m no expert on this stuff, but losing my hearing has negatively impacted my ability to minister to people, both in one-on-one counseling sessions and in groups and classes that I run. I pray that this topic gets the attention that it deserves, not as a matter of musical style, but as a serious health issue. I once went to a Christian concert with my family where the sound was so loud the whole building was shaking. I brought ear plugs, but had to leave because I can’t afford to lose any more of my hearing. It was a nationally known group and there was absolutely no reason why they had to turn it up to 12. The instruments were so loud you couldn’t understand what the singers were singing! My suspicion was that they were caught up in a competitive spirit where the loudest band equals the best band or felt a sense of power from turning the volume way up. Regardless, it was counterproductive even for them. A lot of rock musicians have suffered hearing loss and one of them (can’t remember the name) is a on a crusade to get people to realize the hazards of destructively loud music and has a website dedicated to this issue. My injury occurred many years ago and, hopefully, people are becoming more informed about it.

    • Ron Bartels says on

      In our church, we have lost several dozen people aged 41 to 79 due to 3 elements of the music.
      1. Volume running up to 142 db sustained
      2. Pressure well over 200 hz
      3. Some of the songs are pure rock, just the lyrics are Christian and are difficult to worship when played.

      We have had several discussions with the lead pastor on this campus and finally have received permission to meet in the home of one member and download or live stream the message. We will be handing out contact card and offering envelopes with a link to the website for contributions. However, we ourselves will not be taking up any offerings. Attendees will have to get their contributions in on their own.

      We will be streaming recorded 4 part harmony worship music for the music.

      We had a request from the leadership to call it a small group and to meet at a time and place that did not conflict with the main three services. We had to turn down the timing request but will identify it as a small group.

      Since then, there have been rumors spreading that we are being mutinous. We advised the lead pastor that we are not being mutinous and he agreed we are not. He just does not like the times we have chosen. Our services will last longer because we will be fellow-shipping more and not subject to the time constraints of the local campus.

      We have been asked if this was going to become a home church. At present, the answer is no and is like to remain no unless it becomes a problem and we have specific leading to make that change. However, we hope that is not necessary.

      I’ll post more updates if and when needed. For the record, this is open to those who suffer ear pain from the pud music.. Most people can handle it.

      • Shamir Roshan says on

        Why would you or any other Christian ask anyone’s permission to meet in one another’s homes?
        Some time in the not too distant future The Church worldwide will only be able to meet in one another’s homes or someplace.

      • I think the permission was because they didn’t want to leave the church body as a whole, and become separate, they wanted a time and place to worship together without the loudness interfering, and then listen/watch the message from the church’s minister. If the streaming was not online public, then they needed cooperation from the minister and larger church body. They wouldn’t have needed permission to start their own house church but that’s not what they were doing.

      • Stuart Allsop says on

        Ron, with all due respect, and in the love of Christ between brothers in Christ, I would very respectfully ask that you stop posting information which is totally meaningless, highly misleading, and which you clearly don’t understand, even though you think you do. You are confusing the issue for others, not clarifying it. many of the terms you use are invented, not in other cases you are using the wrong terms.

        While I totally agree with your basic premise that very many churches are way too loud, and are causing damage to the hearing of their congregations, I cannot let pass your misleading and totally inaccurate comments about sound levels. I must comment on your claims, to clarify reality for others who are interested in controlling sound levels in their churches.

        For example: “Volume running up to 142 db sustained” I’m sorry, but that is simply a physical impossibility. A level of 142 dB, no matter how you measure it, is totally impossible. The loudest rock concert ever measured on planet Earth came in at around 132 dB(C), yet you claim that your church is ten times louder every Sunday? It is not physically possible to have such high levels. In addition, very few sound level meters are even capable of measuring such high levels. What meter was that?

        Another one: “Pressure well over 200 hz”. Sorry, but Hz, is not a measure of pressure! It is a measure of frequency (or “tone” if you prefer the non-technical term). Saying that the “pressure was over 200 Hz” is just as silly as saying the “speed of a car was over 100 gallons”: Hz is not a measure of sound pressure any more than gallons is a measure of speed.

        Yet again: “Would not 85 decibels be loud? Would not an amortized 104 db be excessive.” No, 85 decibels dB(C) would not be loud, if the acoustic environment of the church is suitably designed, and the sound system is correctly calibrated. 85 dB(C) is roughly the level you hear in a modern cinema, and is classified by OSHA and other organizations as being safe for 8 hours of exposure each day, on a daily basis. 104 dB would certainly be excessive, but there is no such thing as “amortized decibels”. Google it, and you’ll find the only place on the entire Internet that the term is ever mentioned, is right here, where you invented it.

        “I have read that it takes a long period to damage hearing above 85 decibels, that claim does not address the ear pain issue,” If you are experiencing ear pain at a level of 85 dB, then you should immediately visit an audiologist or other doctor, without delay. That’s a sure sign that you have something pretty bad wrong with your ears, and you need treatment. I’m not a doctor so I can’t tell you what it is, but I do know pain at that level is a symptom of an underlying issue.

        “The pastor says he is running it at 99 db but the readings show and average of 104 db including the quieter times, with a peak reading of 129 db. ” Once again, a level of 129 dB in a church is extremely unlikely: You would need and incredibly massive sound system to attain such levels, with a very large stack of speakers, and many tens of thousands of watts of amplification. Where and how was that measured? What meter was used? Was it operated by a trained person, who knows how to use it correctly? Was it calibrated?

        ” One of our members … brought in a decibel meter … The sound average was 104 db. The music was broadcast over the speaker system in mostly high range with little mid range and no observed low range.” I’m sorry, but sound level meters do not show the frequency range of the sounds they are measuring: Only RTA (“Real Time Analyzers”) meters and other forms of spectrum analyzer have that capability. And what you describe is hard to believe: A loud church sound system with no bass? That would be a first.

        “Our church service is not only above 85 decibels (last measurement was 114 amortized) but also well above 200 hz pressure.” Once again, there is no such thing as “amortized decibels”, and Hertz is a measure of frequency, not sound pressure.

        You are talking about technical measurements that you clearly don’t understand, using invented terms that don’t exist, and that is very confusing and unhelpful for the discussion.

        I fully understand your point, and I absolutely agree with it: the sound in many churches, yours included, is way too loud, and is causing both pain and hearing damage for church members. I agree that this is absolutely wrong: churches should never be causing any harm to their members, in any way. But I can’t agree with the way you are going about this, pretending to understand the technical issues and condemning others on that basis, when it is clear that you yourself don’t understand the terminology or the basis of acoustics.

        I’m trying to not be offensive here, and that isn’t my intention at all since we basically agree on the main point. But really, what you are posting isn’t helping, and is likely to cause confusion, friction, and alienation. Perhaps it would be useful if you would take a course in acoustics, so you can understand what is really happening with the sound in your church, and become part of the solution to the problem with the sound in your church


  • If everyone from babies to grandmas enjoyed the Disney experience, why pump up the volume for younger people? Aren’t they just as capable of enjoying reasonably adjusted sound as babies and grandmas? Is it OK to injure the hearing of young people?

  • Excessive volume=musical imaturity

  • Hello sir,
    Our sound tech moved to other state for family issue and now we are left with no-one to set to sound at our church. We are a Foursquare Gospel with full band. The guy thats taking care of sound now is a 17 yr old kid that pretty much only know where the power botton is. Is there a web site that i can learn about setting of EQ, volume level etc.?
    Thank you for your time… 🙂 God bless..

  • We joined our present church 8 years ago. The music was loud then, 85 to 95 db.
    They are now pumping out as high as 105 db for 2 hours of praise and worship.
    The last 2 weeks it has been so loud my wife was crying in pain. We have approached our Pastor
    and other leadership members. The leader ship wont confront the Pastor as it is his church. I confronted the
    Pastor about this and were basically waved off with the comment “Yes its loud but we are worshipping God”.
    The Sanctuary is only the size of a gymnasium.
    It sucks to have to leave for health reasons, but damaging our hearing is not worth it. No where in the Bible does it say deafing thy worshippers. We are told us ear plugs. Where in the bible does it say use ear plugs.
    Why do young Pastors and leadership not get trained in work place safety. The poor kids are all going to be hearing impaired at this rate

  • I’ve been a bassist (upright and guitar) and a some classical guitar playing for 30 years. I’ve played in numerous bands (since junior high) and a few praise bands even though I’m an atheist:) The bands I was in were VERY loud and I was warned by my parents about damage to my hearing. When you’re young you think that you’re invincible and nothing’s going to happen. I also had a trick aftermarket audio system in my Toyota truck that had the truck’s bed converted into a bass chamber with six twelve in sub woofers. I got more tickets and dirty looks from people when I cranked up the bass! And I even blew out my truck’s windows once when showing off my truck’s audio infrasound to some buddies.

    When I was in my late 20’s I began to notice a decline in my hearing. An evaluation by an audiologist confirmed that I had progressive hearing loss and recommended for me a hearing aid! At 27 I didn’t want to go around with a hearing aid. How was it going to look being a 27 year old dad to my 13 year old son with dad going around with hearing aids!

    I was still playing in bands in my 30’s and was still too stupid to realize that I was going to blow my hearing. The praise band I was playing bass in had an incredible sound system for bass guitar. It was a towering unit with ten fifteen inch subwoofers and a center stage ultra sub unit with four twenty inch sub woofers. The amplifiers were 2000 watts of pure earth shaking bass. I ended up with a collapsed lung after one performance because of the intense bass. I was right in front of the amp.

    There were complaints from the congregation of the music being way over the top. Even teenagers complained it was too loud! The church was 14,000 square feet and the throbbing sound from our band was making the church’s upper balcony actually sway!

    Well I’m in my forties now and I’m diagnosed as being legally deaf. I’ve got to wear two hearing aids. I still play bass guitar and upright bass, though I play a lot more quietly, but I mostly feel the music more than I can clearly hear it:(

    Luckily my son was a little safer about his hearing when he joined a band. He didn’t want to start going deaf at the “ripe old age” of 27{}{}{}

  • Since virtually nobody goes to church anymore and believes in that hokum, it’s up to some village idiot(s) to try and “inspire” younger folks to attend mass. By having some so-called musicians beating the daylights out of their drum kit, a pimply faced nerdy teen boy (he thinks he’s cool) plucking the wrong notes on his WAY over amplified bass guitar, and some screechy young girls shrieking out the worst rendition of “Shout Out Your Joy” you’ve ever heard, members of the congregation rolling their eyes, babies wailing away, children covering their ears and even some adults who left the pews to stand in the rear of the church. I’m not a church goer, I’m not a believer in anything spiritual, but I did attend a mass out of respect for my grandmother who visited last year. I was raised catholic but I abandoned the church when I got into college. My parents and one of my three siblings still follow the church. I don’t know what they’re trying to pull off in these churches, but the idea of having purported rock bands banging and clanging away is going to bring in a bigger audience, then they’re in for a ruse awakening. My grandmother barely tolerate the racket and she is hard of hearing. She said it’s the same way at her church in Minnesota with the guitar mass as she call it. I can remember as a young child enduring the painfully loud pipe organ in a former parish my parents belonged to. I absolutely hated it! Go to church so that you come out with your ears ringing. That’s brilliant, not! My idea of “church” is taking a stroll in a quiet nature preserve and just the sounds of nature to reflect with. Not a 4000 pipe Mighty Wurlitzer tooting away or the pimply faced geek plucking his goofy bass guitar with his amp’s volume set at 10. And this is how someone’s “god” is glorified? Go figure……..

    • Shamir Roshan says on

      Referring to a comment by NATHAN dated June 21, 2013 at 1257/12:57AM first line:
      Considering the days and “The Church Age” this creation is currently being drawn through and accepting as Truth and Faith that God has warned every believer inside His Name Yeshua or Jesus (if you please) that “there will come a time of famine and of drought BUT, it will not be for food or water; it will be for The Word of God”.

      For the most part people are leaving local congregations because The Word of God is not The Book of Law, Justice, Equality , Liberty, Freedom and Love. God’s Covenant and Manner of Being Who He Is – is being exchanged for worldly ways, pomp, pageantry and monetary gain. In many of our congregations (at least in the USA that I have experienced) all across the denominational board Truth and Faith and The Expressions of God’s Love as our Messiah and Kinsman Redeemer between believers is barely alive IF in operation at all. Many good Christians are duped into accepting the cold and dead rites, rituals and artificial life of religious Christianity instead of The True and Living Faith of God our Savior. Our fellow stewards and ambassadors of King get caught up into seminary educations and their accolades of being called Dr., PHd, apostle, bishop etc.. and so there comes a rift and disunity and even divisions between what is called educated and ignorant and clergy and laity – this is not what our Blessed Lord God called His People, His Israel, His Church to be.

      Excuse me for going on……I think I went on a bit of a rabbit trail here. To return to the point of my comment (Thank Y’all). I think people are first leaving the congregations RUNNING and not going entering into the fellowship houses of God’s people because they are not being fed and having their thirst quenched (as far as Christians go) and because when they (those who yet are alive outside God’s Loving Mercy and Grace) come to pastures that have no green grass and no quiet waters that they can drink from. Certainly for all peoples there is no if any at all Balm of Gilead which is The Love of God Who Is The Messiah Jesus manifest in our own flesh and blood and dwelling among in His Post as The Holy Spirit. Without LOVE a man may do all manner of good deeds and high moral acts of compassion to his fellow man but, that is all in vain because without LOVE active in the heart of that man there is no true and real Living Faith acted out in his living through The Person of God Who Is The IAM The Messiah, The Lord, the Lord Yeshua.

  • Interesting. I just wrote a blog on this very topic called “TURN DOWN THE MUSIC!”

    • Shamir Roshan says on

      Read the whole of Jesus’s words in Psalm 33. To start this is a Psalm of praise and rejoicing in The Lord and the veneration His Name. There were predominately four types of music and/or sound people could make in the ancient days. They could use their voices to sing, play air blown instruments and stringed instruments, clap their hands. As the redeemed of God today we have all sorts of man-made instruments to worship The Worthy Lamb our God and quite frankly anything or any way we can Honor His Name should be used.

      Referring the verse 3 (in King James English) : “Sing to Him a new song, play skillfully with a loud noise”.
      This word for KJ’s “loud noise” is the Hebrew word “RUA”. Its main meaning refers to the used of the ram’s horn, trumpets or a loud shout or vocalization in order to summon an assembly, give instructions, call attention or sound warnings. It also refers to the shout of a battle cry or an unrestrained shout of joy.
      Jesus did not give this verse to us to use as an excuse to create damaging effects to our bodies when we are indoors wanting to worship and glory in Him.

      • Debra Magrann says on

        Bravo! Very well said.

        I have been following this blog for several weeks. It breaks my heart that so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are being shunned by this issue. My husband and I visited numerous churches in our area and it was astounding how alike they were! Rock concert LOUD. We simply stopped attending. Recently, I found a very small (Southern Baptist) fellowship with lovely people but they just went to two services – not out of a need due to high attendance or not enough seating – but to go a more ‘contemporary’ route. I have told the shepherd that noise-induced hearing loss is a very real danger. Sadly, from the discord on this blog, our appeals are falling on deaf ears!

      • Ron Bartels says on

        I agree. This is why the home church movement is booming. In our church, we have started a home church small group that avoids the rock music problems. We stream the sermon and play streamed music, pray and fellowship. We do not take up offerings but instead direct attendees to contribute to the main church by envelop or online, so we don’t have accounting issues to complicate matters.

  • This is exactly why so many musicians have left the church. They feel unappreciated, attacked by their “family”, and treated like second-class citizens. Psalm 33:3 says play skillfully with a LOUD noise. You need to set aside your personal feelings toward style and focus on the heart.No one in their right mind is trying to make you deaf. As others have said, this battle is abour your personal attitude toward worship preferences verses biblical essentials.

    • Isaac,

      As a musician, I’m just trying to help. I’ve been the recipient of nasty comments about my body language, wardrobe, facial expressions, and of course volume (even as recently as last week!) I’m with you! I’ve seen the very best efforts and best of intentions blow up in people’s faces. I’ve tried to attract great talent and shield them from a critical culture. I’m simply attempting to equip leaders to best manage this reality.

      I wish this weren’t an issue. But it is my friend. I want you to excel in your worship leadership. I want you to play and sing, focus on the heart, and direct people to the greatness of Christ. Please just don’t let something small and ultimately trivial like volume get in the way. Manage your environment the best you believe the Lord wants you to, and according to what would be most loving to your congregation.


      • Shamir Roshan says on

        Just to clarify what God actually says about worship in His House: the verse more accurately says: “Make a sound full of JOY to God”. Any sound that creates damage, pain, exclusion, separation, disunity and confusion in a gathering is not – IS NOT – honoring nor is it enjoyed by Yeshua.
        Music is a wonderful tool that The Lord has given mankind and specifically The Church to use and enjoy, whether we are alone in a field herding cattle or out in the midst of thousands and let me ask you how many things has man ever touched that has been made better or more glorious than what God gave to us first as perfect?

      • Shamir Roshan says on

        The volume issue my dear friend IS NOT A TRIVIAL MATTER. Any thing we do that drives, deprives or otherwise causes the exclusion of our brothers and sisters from our assemblies is not good and most certainly NOT what The Church our to be about doing. God has told us that we should meet together even more as we see His Day coming upon this creation’s time. Even little foxes can destroy even the healthiest vines IF one does not deal with those small, insignificant and trivial things first. It is like cancer – if you do not catch it early and destroy or remove move it will kill you. Think about that and pray harder!

      • HI Shere-Ling
        I have been reading your questions and responses to Joel and from him to you.
        I think he has done a good job addressing your concerns.
        Now I am going to give you some feedback:
        Your concerns are valid: it is too loud for us in that room.
        Here is the email I sent Joel.
        I did not cc you on it when I sent it:
        HI Joel,
        I sat with Shere-ling in church Sunday.
        I have not been to 6 pm service in a long time and did not know that the only choice was Westside.
        It was so loud that I had to plug my ears.
        (The sermon also was louder than usual)
        Others around me did not seem to be bothered.
        So I learned not to go to the Westside.
        Thanks for your wonderful worship band.
        The music at the end was not so loud and I really enjoyed it.
        From your responses back and forth to Joel, you have been relentless about  giving your observations and proving that you are right with scientific evidence that it does not seem to you that people from Blackhawk Church are  listening  to you. They do not know you well. I think they see you as someone who keeps picking and keeps picking and never gives up until they get their way, rather than someone who expresses their concern  and compromises. After a while, they don’t want to listen to you about other things because you won’t let it go. I’m glad you told them about the loud music. It is too loud.You did what you could. My response is to not go to Westside anymore. Other people like it and it is their choice to go or not.
        I know you and I know your heart. They do not.
        You can only do so much.
        Please let it go now.
        Your sister in Christ,
        From: Shere-Ling Kraus-Yao
        Sent: Friday, June 29, 2012 1:04 AM
        To: Joel Hassenzahl
        Cc: Chris Dolson ; Mary Malischke ; Mary Malischke
        Subject: Re: Facebook post
        You wrote that Blackhawk Church’s service is about 65 minutes long and the
        average dB level is about 67dB. But if the worship (music) part is 25 minutes long
        with average dB level reaches higher than the safe limit (85 dB) and up to 91 dB
        sometimes, do I need to worry about hearing lost and tinnitus in me and other
        congregations? Moreover, does the size of the room matter? We have three rooms
        of various size that are used for Sunday services. It seems to me that our ears
        can only sustain loudness up to 85 dB for 8 hours in 24 hours. If a person works
        in an environment with 85 dB for 8 hours from Saturday night (midnight) to
        Sunday morning (9 am) and then comes to  orship at 9:30 am, will that person’s ears
        be damaged? I think they will, according to the article

        This article says that “According to NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational
        Safety and Health) 85 decibels (dBA) is safe for up to 8 hours. That is 8 hours
        over a 24-hour period. That means that you can be working in a factory or other
        occupation where the noise level is 85dBA for 8 hours and most people will be
        fine. But if you then go to the shooting range or dancing at loud club, or go
        into your workshop after work, you add more noise to the equation.”

        Do you agree with my answer for the question I raised?

        On Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 8:15 AM, Joel Hassenzahl wrote:
        Thanks Shere-Ling,
        We will continue to keep musicians around here aware of ear-health concerns and protecting themselves as they play.  Mark Wyse does a good job of ensuring overall sound levels and stage levels are reasonable for people attending and musicians alike.  We are up there a lot more time than the average person attending Blackhawk, so that has more grounding for concern.  Thanks for your concern for them and for people who attend. 
        Have a good rest of your week.


        On Jun 26, 2012, at 6:50 PM, “[email protected]” wrote:

        Again, I want to be very clear that my husband’s tinnitus has nothing to do with BH Church. And my main concern is for WAC musicians after reading your  first reply, knowing that decibel level has been monitored in all services. Thus, I beg you to pass these articles to musicians who play often and play professionally for living. Please also bear in mind that people have different  response towards the same dB sound.Therefore it might be good to tell people to consider “how well one’s family members or oneself reacts to sound” as a factor in choosing  which venue to go.
        Moreover, your conscience might be different than mine in this area, and only God can judge given the fact that all dB are measured in various services.
        What concerns me is not only tinnitus. My husband just got released from a Mental outpatient site a few days ago from his second stay. I used words “in sane” to describe Jeff’s condition in my Facebook post, and I am not saying it to scare you or anyone else other than Aexpressing my deepest concern. After all we are ministering to people holistically- mind, body and soul- are we not?

        Be Still and Know that I AM.

        Shere-Ling, MDiv from Fuller in 1996

        Sent from my iPhone

        On Jun 26, 2012, at 17:41, Joel Hassenzahl wrote:

        Shere-Ling (cc Chris, and now Mary, since you have been added into this conversation),

        I appreciate your concern and your personal experience with the subject of tinnitus and hearing loss.  I hope that my response and engaging with this dialogue will indicate that I am listening to you.  If you’ve expressed this in the past and haven’t felt heard, I am sorry.  I’m also sorry that your experience Sunday night was an unpleasant one for you.


        This discussion started with the article you posted on my facebook wall:  In this article you cited your concern over the OSHA standards for decibel levels and where they can contribute to hearing loss.  Did you also note the length of time they suggest correlates to hearing loss?  Midway down the page (“Noisy Workplaces” section) is this link ( that gives you approximate durations of time that can cause hearing loss at each decibel level.  On that page you will note that OSHA’s research suggests that 8 hours of sustained sound levels above 85dB can lead to tinnitus.  4 hours at 88dB, 2 hours at 91dB, and so on.  Our service is 65 minutes long and the average dB level is about 67dB. 


        The bottom line for me is that I do not believe that what is happening in our services at Blackhawk is contributing to hearing loss for regular attenders.  I said in my last email that we are intentional about this issue – we measure decibel levels in the tech booth and we are careful to make sure they are in an acceptable range for our services on Sundays.  I can appreciate your concern given your personal experience with your husband suffering from tinnitus, and I want to be sensitive to that.  So I’m sorry if you disagree with me in this discussion.  I hope you can understand where I’m coming from and the intentionality we put into what happens on Sundays.



      • My husband committed suicide attempt on September 11, 2012. It was very hard for me to read Mary’s response to me while my husband was in and out of the psych ward twice up to that point in May and June, 2012.

        His third hospitalization was on July. During that stay, he was told he might have Asperger. Sure enough that is the case after he went for a one-day-long diagnosis on August. This was no laughing matter! Mary could say that I was picking on my church leaders for I just want to WIN, to SAY THAT I AM RIGHT, but they didn’t really know the intensity of my husband’s sufferings. And my concerns for other people in the congregation!!!

        Thank God my husband’s suicide attempt ONLY put him into coma for six days. Thank God he is alive and well today!!! It was a miracle. And it was a rough road to walk down for me as people’s life was on the line.

    • Musicians you say? You call slam, bam, no thank you man a way of being polite to your “flock?” TURN DOWN the dang volume on your “music making” toys boys and girls! You may want to “feel the noise” but for people who are more refined they seriously don’t want to feel that they’re in a battlefield simulator. Would you want to take a cross country trek in a rusty old pick up truck with a blown muffler or a new Mercedes Benz?Noise is noise. I don’t care if you deem it as being music. If it’s an assault to the auditory senses then it becomes a very serious, health related issue!

    • Ron Bartels says on

      Does your understanding of loud noise extend to causing ear pain? Would not 85 decibels be loud? Would not an amortized 104 db be excessive. The scripture did not say extra loud or so loud it causes ear pain.

      What say you?

    • Debra Magrann says on

      Not true! This is a health issue, plain and simple. Consult with an audiologist to see if noise-induced hearing loss is not an epidemic. And, from one artist to another, don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Humility is always the path that leads to Jesus, the One Who is least appreciated by the world. Remember, Lucifer was the worship leader in Heaven before pride took him down. Now he crawls on his belly.

      • Ron Bartels says on

        Psalms 33:3, loud noise referred to singing loud enough to be heard. They did not have amplifiers back in those days. No where in scripture does it say that you are to damage the hearing or create ear pain in worship. Sound volume should sufficient but no harmful. That band members become offended rather than concerned about making pleasing music to the Lord and His people, seems to be set aside giving more concern for pleasing the musicians that accommodating the tolerance of the full audience.

        There is a difference between being emotionally offended and physically pained. One is much easier to accommodate than the other. What level of maturity do easily offended band members have when they put their own preferences so far forward as to cause pain to some in the audience, yet please themselves. Are they there to serve others or please themselves? Those who are experiencing pain are not expressing their experience regarding the physical pain they suffer. Why not ask the audience if the volume is too loud rather than being inconsiderate to the point of forcing people to disengage from the service due to pain. Why can’t this be an inclusive rather than us versus them contest?

        Those who really love God’s law and understand His Word will not allow small irritants and annoyances to drive a wedge between others and themselves. They know how easy it is to cause others offense. Proverbs 11:12 says, “He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his peace.”

      • Shamir Rosan says on

        According to what Yeshua has taught me and what I have read in His Bible/The Word of God I am given facts and evidences of His Truth and Wisdom that THE CHURCH is first to express His Love between one another and that our assemblies are first for the sake of all those who believe, trust and have faith in His Name, and that we share in fellowships, prayers and Bible study for the encouragement and building up of one another. Once The Church accomplishes that among our many members and the varieties of our denominations (which is basically a cultural or ethnic choice of religious expression) then we will stand and move and live and grow as A UNITED-ONE, GIVEN OVER, SOLD OUT WHOLLY TO THE LORD OUR GOD JESUS THE MESSIAH and then we will walk in This One Son of Man who is God Almighty come in our flesh and blood and we will fulfill The Great Commission and boldly proclaim His Testimonies and hold our salvation by HIs Holy and Precious Blood.

  • I’m sad this is happening so much at churches these days. My extended family and I have had to quit going to our church because after many attempts to clarify to the praise team that we were being deafened, they still wouldn’t turn down the music to healthy levels.

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