Church Stage

Fundamentals of Stage Design

Cliff Lambert explains why churches have started hiring creative directors in addition to worship leaders.

Over the past 15-20 years, church stage design has literally gone from a pulpit, pulpit chairs, a choir loft, a piano, an organ, artificial ficus trees and flowers to black walls, backdrops, thematic props, LED lighting, projection, rolling risers, and a hi top or lectern. We’ve transformed our church platforms into theatrical stages. We’ve gotten to the point where stage design is just as important as music selection and because of this shift, we’ve started hiring creative directors in addition to worship leaders.

Why? Because we’ve begun to understand the power of storytelling and that in a corporate worship setting, concepts are caught visually just as much as they are audibly. We’ve also begun to embrace the amount of time, energy and technology it takes to create effective storytelling environments. The bottom line is that environments influence and inspire. A quick look at God’s creation testifies to the fact that multi-sensory experiences reinforce ideas and content. Yes, over the years, we’ve battled with balance. We’ve asked ourselves, “How much it too much?” “When does stage design draw more attention to the design than the Designer?” As we look at moving toward this balance, there are some practical things a designer can do in their preparation. I’ve listed a few here.

As you look through these ideas, keep in mind that stages come in all shapes and sizes as well as do the budgets that supply stage designs. It’s OK if you can’t implement all of these things at once. Work toward it and keep dreaming.

PURPOSE YOUR DESIGN TO YOUR CHURCH CULTURE

Many churches prefer a traditional environment. Keep in mind that by implementing some of the concepts discussed in this article, you don’t have to forsake a traditional feel to create a beautiful design. If you’re working on modernizing a traditional environment, move slowly. Sometimes that simply means gradually removing pulpit furniture and artificial plants over the course of several months and adding some LED backlighting or colored lights on the back wall of your platform. Depending on the mission and vision of some modern church cultures, moving lights, lasers and neon lighting can create a “relatable” atmosphere for those who are unchurched.

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