Tag Archives: Grace Family Church

Your Church PA (Pt4)

In ‘Your Church PA’ we get a peek into some of the audio/production setups at local churches in South Africa. We get to ogle over some photos of gear, share ideas, and learn from the wisdom and experience of those techs who keep the systems running week-to-week! For more detail look here.

This week – Matthew Pierce and Lisa Bell from Glenwood Community Church share their setup with us.

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“We are currently using the Behringer DDX3216 Digital mixer. It is a 32 channel mixer. It has served us very well considering that Behringer hasnt had the best track record for mixers especially digital ones. We are able to run 8 monitor mixes and the effects board in the unit is sufficient for where we find ourselves currently as a church.”

The FOH stack is a 900W JBL AC25, and it’s powered by a USA Q10 power amp. They use Behringer HA8000 headphone amps as their in-ear monitor signal distribution system.


Your Church PA (Pt3)

In ‘Your Church PA’ we get a peek into some of the audio/production setups at local churches in South Africa. We get to ogle over some photos of gear, share ideas, and learn from the wisdom and experience of those techs who keep the systems running week-to-week! For more detail look here.

This week – Grant Leonard from Grace Family Church’s Riverside Campus shares their setup with us.

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“Grace Family Church Riverside has been operating for a year now and we have gotten great results from the PA we chose.

What we put in the auditorium were two EAW KF394’s that are flown from the ceiling and two EAW SB180 subs that are on the floor, one each, below the two individual hangs.

A Lab Gruppen FB+10000Q amplifier powers the four cabinets and for speaker processing we use an EAW UX3600 Processor that we had time aligned and tuned for the response of the room.

The PA in the room looks really small but we get a good sound and great coverage all the way to the back of the room. While the room is essentially a rectangular box, we have been very lucky in that there aren’t any horrible “hot-spots” or “dead-spots” and we have seemingly no trouble with standing waves. Miracles do happen!

Grace Family Church Riverside is a “multi-site” plant of Grace Family Church in Umhlanga and as a result it made some of the decisions, as to what gear to get, a little easier. Two of these things in particular are the sound desk and the “In-Ear-Monitoring” (IEM) system. In order to get a measure of similarity or unity across campuses we chose the Yamaha LS9 mixing console and Aviom personal mixers for IEM. This goes to serve our sound guys, tech volunteers and worship team volunteers, as moving from one campus to the next doesn’t carry the burden of learning a new desk or new IEM system.

We have an Aviom 16/o-Y1 card that’s plugged into the back of the LS9 which is connected via cat5e to the Aviom A-16D Pro distribution unit onstage, from there the signal is split out to the seven Aviom A16II Personal Mixers.

We discovered very early on that the room is incredibly live, so controlling the onstage sound, drums, guitar and bass amps was a huge priority.

The Aviom system took care of our onstage sound.

We then decided to build our own drum screen with a roof, as opposed to buying one, which was a huge cost saving exercise. Then much to the dismay of the people who play bass at Riverside, we swapped the bass amp for a BSS AR-133 active DI box and we moved the electric guitar amp to a separate room behind the stage.

Once we had gone through all these motions, the affect it had on the FOH mix was invaluable, the room seems a little less live and the congregation aren’t getting there ears mutilated by the obnoxious SPLs of drum kits and guitar amps.

Overall we are really satisfied with the results and the equipment we went for.”


Your Church PA (Pt1)

In ‘Your Church PA’ we get a peek into some of the audio/production setups at local churches in South Africa. We get to ogle over some photos of gear, share ideas, and learn from the wisdom and experience of those techs who keep the systems running week-to-week! For more detail look here.

This week – Alan from The Church of the Good Shepard (C.O.G.S) in the Durban North Area shares their setup with us.

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“Ours is a 10-year-old setup – It has nevertheless served us well.”
Mixing Console: Allen & Heath 24-4-2 analogue desk (GL2200)
Processing: Lexicon digital reverb, Sabine graphic equaliser.
Amplification: 2 Crown analogue power amps (one bridged to power the subwoofers) and DBX analogue crossover.
Speakers: Turbosound – flighted main speakers (centre-cluster) with subs on the floor.
Monitors: Old-school floor monitors (4 mixes)
Advantages: Moderate skill level required to operate and all settings are immediately visible. Natural ambient sound.
Disadvantages: Ageing desk developed an intermittent fault (turned our to be aged solder joints)
Biggest challenge: Stage is an acoustic amplifier (was good in the 70’s!) so stage sound has to be kept quite low

Your Church PA!

Yay! This is it! Starting tomorrow… ‘Your Church PA!’

I’ve always been excited about church-techs working together, and learning from each other. I’d like to think we are all part of the same body after all, and that essentially we are dealing with the same challenges every weekend! I also love tech. The gear, the complications, the stories, and mostly – the ingenuity of people getting the problem solved.

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I have been feeling really strongly about trying to find a way to better connect local church-techs, as well hearing about their specific enviroments, and learning from they experiences… So I mailed a few church techs I have worked with over the years, and ‘Your Church PA’ was born.

I would love to hear about your church too – so please feel free to email me a few pictures of your church technical setup, with a short description of the setup, as well as some of your greatest successes, and your biggest headaches. (matt@grace.za.org)


Pallet Set

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Gosh I wish I could say this was my idea!

Yet another idea inspired by stagesetdesignideas.com – the pallet set was a simple idea: Get pallets, break them down into planks, fix the planks horizontally to flats in a layered design and light! Each piece of wood is of course gnarly and gritty, stained and marred, some even have nails sticking out – so the look is very grungy and rough – but when well lit it also looks earthy and warm.

I won’t go into too much detail, other than to say breaking down 100-150 pallets was a lot of work! 3 days in, and I wondered if we had even made a dent!

With some help from some really high-capacity volunteers – my team made the impossible happen in time, and we pulled off 3 pallet set designs (one for each campus).

This has not only been one of the most engaging sets of the year so far at Grace, but it’s also been one of those rare and rewarding projects where the set design actually spun-off into service programming elements. During a recent service, we cut up pieces of the left-over pallets, and left a piece on each person’s chair. Each piece was flawed, unique, and rough-around-the-edges. Each piece represented the complexities and the ‘mess’ of our lives, and we all got an opportunity during the service to take our ‘mess’, and leave it at the cross.

The next week we made crosses from those same pieces of wood and displayed them in our concourse.

I’ve had dozens of calls from people who want to know how we did it, or if we will give it away after were done with it. I even had art students do a photo shoot of it! Thanks to those who donated/sourced pallets for the set, as well as the team who helped put it together you guys did a brilliant job!


‘The worst sound we have ever had’

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It was about 10.30pm in the evening when the call came through. The Comrades Marathon started early the next morning, and our youth group was going to be braai-ing and supporting the runners from the side of the road. The youth leader had just then decided we should have a sound system and invite bands to perform. He had asked someone to call me to arrange something. I was 15.

Having no PA of my own, I arranged to use the church mobile PA. It was everything you would imagine a mobile church PA to be. Two 12” passive speakers, paired with piezo tweeters in home-made boxes, and powered with an 80W amp. We had no CD player, so I borrowed my parents one (along with every extension cord in the house) – and headed out at 3.30am to start the set up in darkness.

Why am I telling you this story?

Well – the memory of this morning is seared into my mind as a defining moment for me. What followed was, as I look back, an experience that could have completely extinguished my passion for tech, and ministry before I even started.

I remember it being the 3rd band of the morning. They were a ‘hip-hop’ band that sang/rapped over a cd track. They strutted onto the stage (a grass bank) and without looking at me plopped their backtrack CD on the audio console, mentioning that they would have preferred wireless microphones.

Despite my best efforts it didn’t sound great. It sounded pretty bad. It was an out-door gig – the volume was underwhelming, over-compressed, and right on the verge of clipping as I tried to squeeze every precious decibel of life out of those tired, sad speakers. The band did not hide the fact that they were not impressed – from me or from the audience. When they were done they came to collect their CD. As I handed it over, the leader of the band looked me straight in the eyes, paused for a moment, and with a disgusted look said ‘that was the worst sound we have ever had’. He turned, and I watched him walk off.

I was broken.

I wasn’t even angry. I was just complete empty. I had got up at 3am, and spent 2 hours in complete darkness alone, hauling gear onto the side of the road. Called in favors, begged and borrowed for every piece of gear we had – then negotiated with nearby homes to ‘borrow electricity’, stressed about mic stands and kick drums and too few DI boxes. While my friends ate boerewors rolls and cheered on the runners and the bands, I was patching cables and wracking my brains for how we would mic up a 5th vocalist. What I had got in return for my effort was a lambasting by a popular artist – a public assault on my competence, which for whatever reason I felt on a really deep level.

Have you ever felt abused as a tech volunteer? Have you ever got to the point where you wonder why on earth you’d put yourself through one more day of this? You don’t have to do this/! You’re not paid! You’re just doing the job no one else wants to do! Why are you serving, instead of enjoying being served – and putting yourself under pressure for no perceivable gain?

My road to processing and recovering from that complicated experience was and is a long one, that has brought me all the way to where I am today writing this post. As I sit here after 8 years in tech ministry, I’m still not sure I have it all worked out! It may sound nuts – but I can tell you that I think I have just about the best job on earth. It may be the death of me – but I love church tech work! At Grace we are committed to honoring the people who serve in our church. It’s a fundamental part of our DNA. Nothing in our church would operate without ‘Grace people’ giving up their time to serve God, by serving each other – and I think that may be how it’s supposed to work.

What I can say with absolute clarity is that God calls us each to a purpose in his kingdom, (Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26) and only when you find your place, can you start to understand the paradox of being served by serving others. 


Epic (tech) Fail Pt4

Well… technically this is a band fail. I was told several piano keys were “stuck”.

It seems someone was trying to play the piano with a plectrum??