In some ways, Clinton Frame Mennonite Church in Goshen Indiana is your typical church: It holds Sunday worship services; its pastor teaches from the Bible; many people are involved, connected, and serve, both inside and outside the church walls.
Like every church, Clinton Frame also has its own unique purpose. For this church of 400 attendees located in Goshen’s rolling countryside, one of its distinctives is its music.
Anita Yoder, Clinton Frame’s worship director, explains: “Our worship services include a variety of types of worship elements – a worship band, congregational singing, vocal solos, piano, and other instrument specials.
“Our church is unique in that we also do a lot of a cappella, four-part harmony.”
Add into the mix the spoken word, and if you want a clear sound that’s pleasant to the listening ear in all of these aspects, you have a real acoustical challenge.
Unique Acoustical Challenge
Doug Hood, owner of Custom Sound Designs in Ft. Wayne, said, “What this church wanted to achieve – the spoken word and a cappella singing at the same time – in the world of acoustics those two things are completely different. With a cappella you have a lot of reverberation, and with the spoken word the room should be ‘dry’ or flat. Typically you can only do one of these things – you can’t do both well at the same time with construction alone.”
So how does a church with a multi-dimensional singing program, combined with the spoken word, achieve acoustical excellence in a single room without getting into an expensive construction project?
For starters, the church, the business owner, and a builder gathered around the table to find a noteworthy solution to church acoustics.
Enos Yoder, a Certified Church Consultant and manager of project development at DJ Construction, believed finding a good balance with the room and the acoustics would resolve the issue.
According to Yoder, “Instead of saying it’s all an architectural solution or it’s all an electronic solution, it’s really a hybrid solution. In other words, we made a structural change to the room by bringing in a back wall to give us better control of the space. Then, we acoustically treated the sanctuary. Now the room is nicely balanced to provide quality sound for all of these different dimensions.”
The role of DJ Construction was to get the right players around the table and envision the solution, said Yoder. “Clinton Frame clearly understood what they wanted. Custom Sound Designs’ Doug Hood brought his expertise into the mix, and between the three entities, we crafted an ideal solution that truly honors the church’s needs.”
Hood explained from an electronic standpoint, his company installed tiny speakers and microphones all over the room to modify the sound. The sound is being controlled from a digital mixing console with recallable, preset scenes.
“This design has the ability at the touch of a button to have multiple acoustical signatures in a worship space to use in a variety of ways,” said Hood. “It’s a really special system. It’s not something you find just everywhere.”
“It’s a fantastic tool,” confirmed Anita Yoder. “The sound can envelop the congregation, and especially with four-part singing we are able to experience a nice reverb that gives the feeling of being in a concert hall through the gift of technology in our normal room.”
How Your Church Can Benefit
Although most churches no longer implement four-part, a cappella singing on a consistent basis like Clinton Frame, they still can profit from the acoustical path paved by the church.
“Any church that embraces diverse music or worship forms in a single room can benefit from an acoustical system like this,” said Enos Yoder. “For example, churches that have multiple services and some of their off-peak services aren’t as full as the others, but they don’t want those attending to lose out on a great worship experience, the sound can be adjusted to make the room feel full.
“Or another situation is when you have a funeral in the middle of the week, and the room is only half-full; you can still create the feeling that the room sounds full so those in attendance don’t feel overwhelmed by the size of the room.
“Whenever you need a room to perform in a variety of ways acoustically at high levels, then you need to give the room multiple signatures. A system like this provides a variety of sound perspectives.”
While the technical talk might sound somewhat complex, Worship Director Yoder simplifies the perspective: “As the not-so-old hymn says, it’s a ‘sweet, sweet sound.’”
DJ Construction helps churches find solutions to their facility needs that match your church’s unique ministry goals. If you would like to know how DJ Construction can partner with you, call 574.202.0755, or email Enos Yoder.
Enos Yoder is a certified church consultant, and along with DJ Construction, is a member of the National Association of Church Design Builders (NACDB).