Decibel levels matter, my friends. Prolonged, heavy vibrations in the ear drums can cause hearing damage. I submit that not only are our musical choices important to connect generations together in worship, but the volume of that music is important too.
Any concert or church that hands out ear plugs (and there are MANY) before the music starts says to me, “I’m not concerned with your aural health enough to lower the volume to a healthy decibel level. Accept this small token to alleviate the painful noise because I seemingly care about you. But, those younger folks here, perhaps your sons and daughters that came in with you, they can tolerate the higher decibel levels (even if it damages their hearing long term).” Really??? But I digress. I do believe understanding some possible reasons WHY decibel levels have gotten out of control may help us understand why it’s important to be cognizant when considering volume levels in the intergenerational church.
SOME REASONS VOLUME HAS GOTTEN LOUDER
A FEW ARGUMENTS FROM THOSE FOR LOUD VOLUME
In these arguments, and there are plenty of others, there’s not one that I can tell that could not be achieved with a reasonable decibel level. Perhaps not at the same degree though. Certainly it is more challenging to “feel” the bass when it’s not thumping.
SOME REASONS TO FIND A REASONABLE DECIBEL LEVEL IN WORSHIP SERVICES
To be clear, I’m not targeting modern worship music or bands that play a certain type of music. I love all types of music! I am specifically targeting the decibel level of ANY type of worship service. I’ve heard organs that have literally moved me physically with the vibrations and caused me to hold my ears.
I submit you: Extremes in volume (decibel level) may be polarizing relationally in the intergenerational church.
Finding balance is key in your own situation. Sometimes sitting in certain places in a worship center can yield a different sound. I know there are places in our worship center that are louder than others. I encourage folks who mention they can hear too much sound/cannot hear well to move around until they find what works for them.
Even as we consider this issue, there will be people in our sphere of influence that will never be pleased with volume levels because their preferences are so extreme. That’s okay; we in intergenerational churches are used to having to remind our folks that we are guided by the philosophy that we are better together, guided by the Word and the Holy Spirit, and always looking to find practical ways (volume included) to achieve the best balance for our church culture and context.
Side note: you’ll find recommendations for sustained decibel levels for worship from 75-95 db. However, OSHA recommends hearing protection for anything over 85 db for sustained periods of time (8 hours) and 95 for up to 4 hours. In my opinion, 95 should be the limit with great care to keep between 75-85 generally in worship.
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“Intergenerational Worship” is worship in which people of every age are understood to be equally important.