Thom Rainer

Why Lighting Will Be the Next Worship War

The music worship wars lasted thirty years. To be sure, they are still taking place in some churches, but the full effects of these battles waned several years ago. They left in their wake disgruntled members, lost focus, and numerous church splits.

After hearing from a number of pastors and church leaders on this issue, I contacted Bobby Taylor of All Pro Sound in Pensacola. Bobby’s company had worked with many churches with which I have familiarity, and church leaders spoke highly of their work in audio, video, and lighting solutions. My initial questions focused on how churches can find a lighting solution that is not divisive.

Like me, Bobby knew that some church leaders and members prefer well-lit worship services, while others prefer a more subdued and darkened facility. After speaking with him and then speaking to numerous church leaders again on this topic, my fears seem to be founded. Many churches are having internal disagreements over lighting. In some churches it has become contentious.

Like worship styles and music, it is difficult to find a “right” solution. And the number of contacts I have received on these issues tells me we are in the early stages of a new worship war. Here are my five thoughts for now:

  1. The divide is often generational. Boomers and Builders in general like the worship services with abundant lighting. Gen Xers and Millennials prefer minimal lighting as a sense of reverence.
  2. The typical time when the younger generations prefer “lights down” is during the sermon. In this sense, the lighting issue is both theological and practical. The subdued lighting engenders greater focus on the preached Word. It makes a biblical statement about the importance of the sermon, and it is practical because it minimizes distractions.

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