On the Topic of Hearing Vocal Ministry in Meeting for Worship:
In our meetinghouses, sometimes the voices of those called to give vocal ministry during meeting for worship can be lost. When one is responding to the Spirit, seeking words to articulate the message, perhaps even little conscious of how one came to rise to address the meeting, the spiritual experience and message often takes precedence over its form. It is also fair to say that a number of our members and attenders have age related hearing loss. With these things in mind, how can those called to vocal ministry assist those who have difficulty hearing? And, how can those who are listening and but having difficulty hearing gain what benefit they can from vocal ministry during the meeting for worship?
For those giving vocal ministry:
Trust that you've discerned that the message you have been given is for the meeting and that it is valuable to each person there. If you have considered and pondered if the Spirit is not speaking to you alone, be confident that the words are meant to be heard by others. You are giving the meeting the gift that has been given to you to share. Take a deep breath, lift up your head, and speak toward the people in the meeting. If you can remember to do it, speak as loudly as you comfortably can.
For those hearing vocal ministry:
You are in a difficult situation, with the acoustics of buildings and hearing losses typically affecting consonant speech sounds and higher pitched women's voices. There are a few things you can try that may help. One suggestion is to sit toward the center of the meeting, in the middle of the people who are assembled. When people speak, they often address their comments toward the center of the room. If you are facing the people that will help, and, if the voice comes from behind you, turn toward the speaker if you can comfortably do so. Another suggestion is to ask someone in meeting to talk with you about the vocal ministry at the rise of meeting.
Finally, when meeting is over, consider approaching the minister to talk about the message. It will likely be close to their minds and hearts, having spent much time discerning the message and the Spirit's intent and direction. Not only can you discuss the parts of the message that you missed, you can gain deeper insights and help build community through these interactions. It is often reassuring for vocal ministers to have someone express their desire to hear and understand the given message.
In "Members of One Another," Thomas Gates writes: "A true community comes to understand and value the diversity of its members and is able to both accept and transcend those differences." In the dynamic of speaking and listening, each of us can contribute to the experience of meeting for worship by sitting together, accepting our limitations and our gifts, and being mindful of each other's experiences in meeting for worship.