There is that grand question that seems to so often be a part of conversations between lighting directors: What values do you run your house lights at during worship?
Well, the truth of the matter is, it’s never that consistent. The reason it’s not consistent, is because the environment is always changing.
I’m simply trying to be a vessel for the Lord, to do His work.
What’s the set list for the week?
Is it sunny outside or is it cloudy?
Who’s leading worship?
Each of these above questions I face every week at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when planning the lighting for the coming weekend or event.
First thing is first, what is God wanting to do during the set list? This means we are doing homework early in the week. We are worshipping/practicing through the set list, like our worship leaders.
What we need to understand is that we are leading worship just as much as the worship leaders are. We are setting an environment that invites people to worship freely, without distractions.
While I’m listening to the set list, I ask this question a lot: What are you (God) wanting to do during this moment? I ask this, because worship songs can take you on a journey unlike many other forms of music. For example, if we were to sing “What A Beautiful Name,” by Hillsong Worship in the heart of a worship set, I would have the house lights up a little more. The reason behind this is, because with the song, it works in conjunction with more congregational style worship.
Having the house lights up a little just brings a unity to the room. Think about the bridge.
You have no rival, you have no equal, now and forever our God reigns.
Yours is the kingdom, yours is the glory, Yours is the name, above all names.
There’s unity that comes when His bride sings this bridge. I haven’t been in a room yet where the voices don’t rise up and take over the room.
This is congregational worship, meaning this is where we become unified together.
When unity enters the room, the heavens open up and His people become an unstoppable force for the glory of God in that moment. For me congregational unity equals brighter house lights.
Now let’s talk about a time where the set is leading us to more of an individual feel. Let say the song, “Resurrecting,” by Elevation Worship is in the set. These lyrics are more personal, they are a declaration of who God is, and what He is going to do through me.
The chorus lyric says:
Your name, Your name
All praise, Will rise
To Christ our King.
But now there’s a shift going into the bridge. Musically, it comes down quite a bit. Plus, the lyric is personal and powerful.
These are the moments where people want to be in the personal space with God. It’s in these moments where God will do some powerful work, because we get this sense of nobody is watching, it’s just me and God.
It is in this moment that allows the house lights to come down. It sets this atmosphere of security, where I can get personal and real before the Lord. Then the bridge lyric comes, and we begin to sing.
By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat,
The resurrected King is resurrecting me. (x3)
In Your name I come alive,
To declare Your victory,
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me
As the band plays through the first pass, things are down. We are now coming through the second pass and things are building.
As things are building, even more through the third pass, a once personal time is now becoming congregational time again. This is where I would start riding the house lights back up.
The more congregational, the brighter I like the house lights. As I said at the beginning, house light values for me are inconsistent, because I’m flowing with the congregational and personal moments.
With all this being said, I swing the full variety of house light values.
I blackout, I run them at 40-50 percent of their value, and everything in between.
I’m simply trying to be a vessel for the Lord, to do His work. I’m in the process of leading worship from behind the lighting console, which also means I’m making adjustments as we go.
On some days, the energy just isn’t matching the set, and the house lights need a lift. It may be cloudy outside and we need to lift the house a little, to brighten up an already dreary day.
Let me say this, everything I just wrote in how I make such determinations, didn’t just happen without extensive experience.
With it, has come change over time.
Leadership and worship leaders have all spoken into this very thing, and it’s still a conversation that happens on a regular basis.
At first, at New Life Church, we were at a 40 percent house light value throughout worship. Over time, though, and with trust being built with leadership things changed, things evolved.
As a result, we are now able to flow with the set and create an atmosphere for people to worship freely, and that is the most important thing out all of this.
How can we not be a distraction, but add to the very thing we are called to do?
Lastly, I will say this; God is a planner. He knows the very plan for the coming weekend, long before we ever discuss it or plan it.
We need to do the homework, before entering the room we are called to create in. We need to ask the Lord questions in our quiet time on how He wants to use us. We need to talk through the set with our worship leaders to know we are on the same page.
It’s here in these times where He preps us.
We need to be willing to do very little at times or be willing to take a chance on something new. And it’s in these moments where our obedience to the Lord will be blessed by His hand.