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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Veteran Technical Director and CCI Solutions Church Relations Director, Duke DeJong shares some thought provoking mixing concepts.

Female worship leader singing a praise song

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a church service with a highly talented, highly creative team of artists who lead worship in a very dynamic and fun way. At this service, the music was rockin and there was great energy, but I found myself struggling to engage myself in worship because I couldn't clearly hear the vocals.

Humming the Kick Drum

Legendary audio engineer Robert Scovill (Tom Petty, Rush) has a famous saying, "Nobody ever goes home humming the kick drum." His point is that if your drums are disproportionally louder than the vocals, you're robbing people of the opportunity to connect with and engage in the lyrics of the song. In fact if you listen to nearly any album by today's top artists, one thing remains the same regardless of musical style. You can always clearly hear the lead vocals, and that's what most people connect to within a song.

Male worship leader with long hair playing electric guitar

Leading Them

And it's not just about drums, I've been to numerous churches where the lead guitar or keyboards were the main thing in the mix, and I struggled just as much then to worship as I would if the drums were overbearing. As I sat in this particular service, the music was big, clear and balanced but the vocals were often hidden under the big-ness of the music. I remember wondering just how many people like me were there to worship God, but were having a hard time joining in and following along because they couldn't understand the words the leader and team was singing.

The Main Thing

People who lead and serve the church must always remember to keep "the main thing, the main thing." The story of the Gospel is in the words God has spoken to us through His Word, and our worship, praise and prayers back to him are most often communicated in word too. While it's true the Bible tells us to worship Him with instruments, our congregations worship and praise God through the words we sing with the accompaniment of instruments.

Worship band singing on stage

Wrapping it Up

As leaders of worship, and those who serve in technology help lead congregations in worship as much as any musician, it's important that we remember to keep the main thing the main thing. In order to help lead and engage congregations in worship, regardless of how big the drums, guitars or pianos are, we must remember to keep the vocals present in our mixes. Whether you have one vocal or 10, if we're expecting people to connect to the words being sung, the voices must be intelligible. After all, when people walk out of our services, would we rather they talk about how awesome the guitar solo was or "How Great Is Our God"?


Duke DeJong
Church Relations Director
CCI Solutions
Duke has over 14 years of experience as a technical artist, trainer and collaborator for ministries. Duke travels around the country for CCI Solutions and is available to help your ministry. Join Duke on Facebook at