There are a lot of technical details to consider when forming a new church plant. Designing and investing in the right sound system can be one of the most important tech decisions a young church makes.
There are four factors that will guide the church plant sound system selection process:
#1 – Church Plant Size
A church plant may start with a small founding congregation, but it will grow. The congregation size will determine the size of the meeting space and the size of the sound system required.
It can be hard to predict how quickly the new congregation will grow. For this reason, most sound systems designed for a church plant should be modular if at all possible. This makes it easy to expand the system to meet future growth.
Using a compact digital mixing console with a few powered loudspeakers can meet the needs of a small church, while also offering expansion options in the future. Need more capacity? Simply add some monitor speakers or subwoofers and add a couple of cables.
Clearly, there will be a point when the church plant needs to expand into a larger space or building. However, early sound system components and portable loudspeakers can serve a church for several months or even years when designed correctly.
#2 – A Sound System for Your Worship Style
Worship services that feature a full band need a suitable sound system to offer quality reinforcement. This might include microphones, monitors, and subwoofers. A mixing console with enough input capacity is also important.
Simpler worship setups that only feature one or two instruments and vocals require much less equipment. Even so, a small sound system should have the option of adding monitor speakers or in-ear monitor systems.
Home churches and congregations worshiping in smaller rooms can use compact all-in-one sound systems for a time, but they should prepare to expand as the room size increases.
Wireless microphones are also worth considering for worship teams that plan to grow and want to keep stage clutter to a minimum.
Another piece of gear worth investing in at the early stage is the pastor’s microphone. Selecting the right microphone for the pastor can mean the difference between being clearly heard or suffering through feedback and volume issues.
#3 – Sound System Portability and Transportation
Since many church plants are also portable churches in their early stages, it’s important to have a sound system that is portable and easy to transport.
Portable sound system components can undergo a lot of wear and tear. Hard-shell ATA cases can protect sensitive electronics (like your mixing console) from being damaged. Having hardware cases with rollers is also very helpful to protect cords, speaker stands, and other gear.
Be sure to factor in the size of the vehicles needed to transport equipment, as well as the number of people required to move it all around from place to place. A portable sound system should meet the technical requirements for your church and be manageable for the team that helps set it up, tear it down, and transport it each week.
#4 – The Tech Team
Perhaps the biggest factor in the type of portable system selected for a church plant is who will be operating it week to week. Even small churches should form a reliable tech team to help with setup and operating the sound system.
The mixing console should be suitable for the technical needs of the church, but also be easy to train new volunteers on how to use it.
Hardware cases and cables should be clearly labeled so team members can easily identify system components. A load-in and load-out system should be created so that gear isn’t accidentally left behind or damaged during transport. And keeping a good supply of everyday tech essentials will keep your techs prepared each week.
Planning for volunteer tech team participation is just as important as selecting the right hardware.
Planning for the Future
The first sound system for a church plant doesn’t have to be the only system, but it can certainly last a long time. In fact, it’s entirely possible to repurpose quality sound system components for many years of service across multiple ministries.
Carefully selected electronics and hardware used for the early church plant phase can be used in all areas of ministry. This includes youth groups, outdoor services, special events, bible camps, and more.
It’s a good idea to talk with other portable churches and learn from their successes and mistakes. Consider approaching production touring companies or rental shops for their advice on the gear that holds up best. Church technology contractors can also be a great resource for system design and custom portable options.
Deliberate and thoughtful planning in the church plant years will be a lasting example as the congregation grows and tech needs increase. Take the opportunity to be a good steward at each stage of church growth.