Worship Experience at Relevent

We Care About Your Worship Experience

We’ve put together this guide to share the vision of worship we believe God has called us to at Relevant including information about sound levels and how they affect your experience.

Worship at Relevant

Scripture gives us a picture of what worship through song looks like. At times it is contemplative and reflective, but often it is robust and bold.

Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” Similarly,  Psalm 47:1 extols, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”

We believe that God wants to come to him steadfast and wholehearted in our worship. He also wants us rowdy and undignified in praise. Both are biblical and appropriate.

Missional Worship

Alongside the biblical mandate, worship through song has an outreach component. We want to create an environment where the next generation of worshippers want to come to Relevant. This includes creating an atmosphere of high-energy in the room. At times, this might mean that we intentionally play songs that aren’t stylistically the favorite of long-time attenders. It might also mean that we use instruments that have a different appeal or play the volume at a level that is different than what some of us desire. We view sacrificing our own preferences for the mission as part of our Great Commission calling.

Practical Considerations

There are many who are still timid about singing songs aloud to God. Whether they are insecure in their vocal abilities, have past trauma about singing aloud, or have some other reason for not wanting their voice to be heard, our desire is to create space (through the level of sound volume) where they feel like they can worship out loud fully without fear of others hearing their voice.

Technical Considerations

Sound levels, or more specifically sound pressure levels (SPL), are measured in decibels. We monitor the SPL in rehearsals and during the worship services. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations for SPL exposure. You can find more information on the OSHA website.  In summary, OSHA requires noise abatement measures when noise exposure is above 85 decibels over an 8-hour time-weighted average. The relative time allotment decreases by half for every three decibels increased. 

During the 20 minutes of Relevant’s average worship set, a sustained average level of 95 decibels would be considered safe. Of course, we do not sustain 95 decibels (the worship set has dynamics that vary between softer moments and louder elements). In general, our goal is to keep our peak level between 90 and 95 decibels, with occasional higher levels in rare situations.

Remember, it is not uncommon for the loudest portion of a song to reach around 94-98 decibels. But the number that really matters is the average of the ENTIRE 20-minute worship set.

This average can vary from week to week and song to song based on a variety of factors including instrument combinations, song selection, etc.

A single burst of 120 decibels can cause immediate hearing damage. There are mechanical safeguards in place to be sure we never reach anywhere near those levels.

Measuring SPL With Your Own Device

Use caution when measuring decibels with your own device as a means of determining whether the sound is too loud as these tools can often be misleading. We especially encourage you to avoid using an app on your phone. Decibel meter apps must be calibrated in order to work properly (and even then, they’re often inconsistent). If you have a professional meter, there are various weighting curves, different response levels, and other considerations — such as the sound spectrum — that must be considered.

Sound Affected by Hearing Loss

As we age, we often lose hearing in certain frequencies. High-frequency hearing loss is common for individuals age 50 and older. When we lose the ability to hear certain frequencies as part of an overall sound mix, sometimes it causes us to perceive sound levels as “harsh” when, in reality, we are simply hearing an incomplete or partial version of the actual overall sound picture. When this is the case, we must be careful not to confuse our partial hearing of what sounds “harsh”  with loud sound.

Final Thoughts

Much prayer and consideration goes into every element of the worship service. We program the services to take attenders on a specific journey in an intentional environment to experience the presence of God.

Our desire is that everyone would experience the fullness of worship every Sunday at Relevant, including sound that is pleasing.

However, we also realize that part of worship is sacrifice. It’s about God and not about us. Sometimes we must sacrifice our preferences for the greater mission. There are times when we might not feel like singing a new song to God, but we are called to do so anyway. There might be times when we don’t particularly feel like singing loudly with loud music and instruments, but God might be calling us to get outside of our comfort zones for the benefit of someone else.

We are grateful that you join us in intentional worship at Relevant.