Stage Design: Constantly Be On The Lookout for Inspiration

Stage Design: Constantly Be On The Lookout for Inspiration

No set design ever brought anyone to faith, but great design can draw people into worship in a fresh way, where God can move in their lives.

When we do stage design in church, there are many things to consider, but you must start with figuring the answers to these two fundamental questions.

God is interested in the details and obsessed with spaces used for worship.

1. Does this add to the worship experience or distract from what we are trying to accomplish?
2. Does the idea "fit" within the parameters of the vision, budget, theme and style of your (not someone else's) church?

First things first: Always start with the question, "Why?"

If you understand the "why?", you can cast vision to others more effectively and communicate to your team and others. You start by asking, "Why does this add to our vision for a weekend service and how does it do that?"

If your answer is, "Because it looks great!" or "I want to be like the other church I saw online," that's a fine place to start. It, though, has to go deeper.

We add design elements to the stage for many reasons, some practical and some artistic.

Practically, we want to add necessary light, shape the space in a specific way, draw attention to something, maybe hide something, communicate a theme or idea, and assist the worship team or speaker in some way.

Artistically, we add elements to the stage to create wonder, use color to help tell a story, add tension, to help communicate a big idea and build up parts of a song or message in a service.

If you have a spark of an idea, then pray about it!

Seek other creative types and get their input and research the actual design process. Look for new ideas online, at other churches in your area, and in commercial set inspiration. There are no new ideas!

Your ideas should be constantly brought under the question of, "Does this add what we want to add?" If it is just lighting for the sake of making something look cool, or a graphic that is confusing, then move back to the drawing board and reevaluate.

If your set design passes the first test, then move to the second test by asking the following questions:
Does this "fit" and "feel" like us?
Can we budget for it?
Can it actually be built?
Will it last?
Is this something we just copied or did we see something that inspired us to personalize it for our own context?

Beyond all those, we serve a God who is a beautiful creator. God is deeply involved in his creation, even telling people specific dimensions, colors, materials and instructions to create things intended for worship.

God is interested in the details and obsessed with spaces used for worship.

When we use color, design elements and our creativity for the stage, we are participating in the same process. When we pursue excellence, we honor God and inspire people!

Be very intentional to think about how someone visiting or attending your church for their first week would perceive the design. No set design ever brought anyone to faith, but great design can draw people into worship in a fresh way, where God can move in their lives.

Set design can help people feel welcome, connect them to who you are as a church and engage their senses and imaginations!

Practically speaking here are some lessons we have learned through the years about set design!

Use light and think about lighting as much as built pieces. Proper lighting can add so much to build moments, add focus and direct attention. Some of the best contrast can be between dark and light elements! Bad lighting equals bad stage design.
Learn some simple things about color theory and how colors work together, including light temperatures and color blending. This makes it easier to get the same shared of color evenly across the stage.
It has to look good from about 20 feet away! Up close you can hide imperfections, but make sure the people in the front seats can't see it!
Be safe with rigging and flying things. If you have questions - get professional help.
Don't forget the floor, ceiling and walls next to your stage.
Make sure you work with the audio, video and worship teams and avoid any conflict over placement and workflow with cables, etc.
If you have a large stage, your elements need to be large to translate. Think in terms of relative size from the audience perspective.
Less can be more. One light and one element can speak volumes.
Get help with any electrical or wiring necessary. Professionals know how to be safe and fast.
Take a date night and browse the home improvement stores for inspiration!

Finally, set design can be so fun! Pray and be constantly on the lookout for inspiration and file away those ideas for those moments when you need them!

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