I spend a fair amount of my life around microphones as a preacher, public speaker, and retreat leader. Most of the time, microphones are helpful and relatively invisible. But every now and then they get restless and decide to grab center stage.

wireless-microphone-5.jpgThis is especially true, in my experience, of wireless microphones. You know what I’m talking about. They’re the ones that used to clip onto a speaker’s tie, with a wire that runs to a small, battery-operated transmitter. Nowadays, it’s increasingly common for the microphone to fit over the speaker’s ear, with the receiving part near the mouth. In any case, the mike’s transmitter sends a signal to a receiver that picks up the sound and passes it on to an amplifier. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. (Photo: an over-the-ear type wireless microphone)

But sometimes things aren’t quite so neat. For example, during my first years as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, we used a wireless system in our worship services. There were two of the clip-on type mikes so a worship leader could use one in addition to the one for the preacher. 

During the first of two worship services on Sunday morning, I used one of the wireless mikes while my youth pastor, Tom, used the other. I gave the call to worship and preached the sermon. Tom led in prayer and did the announcements. All went smoothly.

When it was time for the second service to begin, I stood up to give the call to worship. I began with something appropriate like, “Brothers and sisters, God is with us today. . . .”  But what came out of the speakers in our sanctuary was not this. Rather, a booming voice exclaimed, “OKAY YOU GUYS. IT’S TIME TO GET GOING, SO SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!”

Instantly, every eye in our sanctuary was focused upon me. Some looked to be amused. Others were angry. How dare I call us to worship with such language!

For a moment I wasn’t quite sure what to do or say. Then it dawned on me what had just happened. After finishing his part in the first service, Tom went to the room where our high school ministry gathered during the second service. This room was adjacent to the sanctuary. Tom had forgotten to turn in his microphone so it could be used by associate pastor who was helping me in the second service. At the precise moment when I began to call people to worship, Tom was calling his group to order, in language that was a little less formal than mine. By mistake, our sound tech turned up Tom’s mike, rather than mine. And the rest was history.

You can’t really blame the microphones for this fiasco, however. It was the combination of human error (Tom’s failure to turn in his mike; the sound tech’s mistake), coincidence (Tom’s room was within range of the sanctuary receiver), and exquisite timing (we were both calling our groups to order at exactly the same moment). Still, these are the things that can drive one a little bit crazy. It’s microphone mania, I tell you.  

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