"Pastor, We Can't Hear You!"
This was said by a lovely, elderly, congregant about halfway through the announcements during worship last Sunday.
"What do you mean you can't hear me?"
I asked. Loudly. Into the pulpit mic.
"I don't think your microphone is working?!"
She shouted back.
I muttered to myself under my breath. Raw panic started to set in. The kind that begins in your belly and travels to your fingertips in a matter of seconds. The service just started. My mic isn't working. And I have absolutely no idea how to operate a sound system. Like I don't even know how to turn it on. Let alone how to fix it.
As a fellow hearing impaired person, I know how frustrating it is not being able to hear someone. It's right up there with having to get a cavity filled on my list of things that annoy me. But there was nothing I could do about it until after worship.
"Everyone move up closer to the front."
I shouted into the dead pulpit mic. My bewildered congregation stared at me.
Presbyterians do not move seats.
And they certainly do not sit in the front of the sanctuary.
Dead pulpit mic, or no dead pulpit mic.
The Holy Spirit must have been with us that morning. Because I have no other explanation for how we made it through worship.
After worship I realized that no one in my congregation knew how to operate the sound system. Desperate, I decided to post a Facebook status update asking for help. Within an hour, my seminary buddy Jason texted that he would be happy to come take a look at it. Jason is a youth pastor, and also a talented musician. He promised me that my sound system issues would likely take 5 minutes to solve.
When Jason arrived on Wednesday morning to look at our sound system, I asked him if he would like a cup of coffee. By the time it took me to make him a cup of coffee, he had identified, and solved the problem. The dial was turned off of my pulpit mic, and my body mic was tuned into the wrong channel. What had been stressing me out all week, took Jason 5 minutes to figure out.
This week I learned an important lesson about the importance of having good colleagues in ministry. When you are a solo pastor, everything is your responsibility. But you can't possibly know how to do everything. You start to think that since everything is your responsibility, you ought to know how to do everything. And that is where you start to get yourself into trouble. What was once a simple fix (the body mic was plugged into the wrong channel) can turn into a big problem (your congregants can't hear your sermon) if the problem goes unresolved.
Of course if you want to have good colleagues in ministry, you have to be a good colleague. On Sunday my buddy Jason will be getting ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament. When he texted me several months ago to ask if I would be a part of his ordination commission, I immediately cleared my schedule. Even though both the Steelers and the Penguins are playing this Sunday. While I may not be the best sound technician, I do know how to lead worship, and can help make sure Jason has an ordination service to remember.
Thankfully, Jason is getting ordained as the temporary associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, a large suburban congregation in the South Hills. Jason assured me that they have multiple guys at Westminster who know how to run the sound system. Should my mic decide to die on me in the middle of my prayer of ordination...