Government is moving to curb noise pollution, finally, and places of worship and bars/nightclubs have been singled out as the biggest culprits.
I have heard some pastors respond to this development with worry that it is an attack on all-night prayers – a huge part of Pentecostal worship – but it does not have to be. I am actually seeing it as a challenge for us to refine the way we handle our services, without causing the communities that host our churches to grumble and stumble.
A pastor that disagrees with KCCA needs to move next door to a Pentecostal church (not the one s/he leads) even for a week, and report back his or her findings. It is easy to make all the arguments for “let them let us be”, if one’s noisy church is in Mulago, but one stays in leafy Bbunga – nowhere near any bar, mosque, church or even traffic.
But if you have lived next to “us”, you also know that things can get quite hectic with the loudspeakers blaring full throttle at 3am. When I spend a night at my church, I constantly visit the sound corner to beseech the technical person to turn the sound all the way down and allow people to sleep. I could be wrong, but I believe the sound system at that time of the night is meant for the speakers’ and choir’s voices not to go hoarse with shouting; it is not meant to jarringly preach to the person in slumber land – or trying to get there.
Otherwise, we risk alienating the communities we seek to evangelise for Jesus Christ, out of resentment and disgust. Three years ago my immediate neighbour sold his residence to a Pentecostal church. And recently, that church, which had been managing their sound at night after intervention from the LC, also sold to another church that held a celebratory overnight praise and worship session outdoors, with machines on full blast, up to 5am!
How unfair. How unchristian, if you do not care whether your neighbours are trying to rest ahead of another long day of hustle, are nursing a sick elder, or have a colicky baby. Let us not think of the KCCA announcements as an attack on the church, but rather as a rallying call for us to be more skilful in the way we serve God and minister.
Many churches can afford to soundproof their establishments; find out how, and do that. Others do not have congregations that big that they warrant sound that vibrates in the roof and rafters; tone it down to comfortable levels, both for the congregation and the community, especially at night.
We can all co-exist and draw more people from the community to our churches because of how respectfully we treat one another.