As I wrote in part 1 of this blog series, lighting and visual media are not necessities but simply useful tools. Like any tool, to get the right results, we have to use them the right way. So here are some suggested best practices for using lighting in worship. (These are pretty general. Specifics are outside the scope of this post.)
One of the most basic functions of stage lighting is to define the space. Suppose your worship venue has a massive stage/platform. That can lead to distraction, lack of intimacy, and lack of focus.
Use your stage lighting to light only the parts of the platform where the action is happening. If it’s music time, light only the portion of the stage where your band or choir members are standing. When the preaching time comes, don’t be afraid to change the lighting to focus only on the area where the preacher is, effectively removing other parts of the stage from view.
Use the House Lights
Something else not to fear: bringing down the house lights. You have to be careful here because a worship service is a corporate activity. Bringing down the house lights can create a greater sense of intimacy (and increase your ability to define spaces on the platform), and that’s good. However, a more intimate feel can make you forget there are other people in the room.
Corporate worship does not consist of isolated acts of individuals who happen to be in the same room. It is an action of the gathered body of Christ.
Don’t be afraid to bring the house lights down, but teach your people that they come together as one body. Help them remember (or learn for the first time) what corporate worship really is. Find opportunities to bring the lights up during your service so the people can be reminded that it’s not just “Jesus and me.”
Finally, use lighting to create transitions between sections of the service. For example, we bring all the stage lights down when we move from music to preaching (except for a few in the back of the stage). This provides a cue for people to sit and makes them aware that we’re moving forward. It has the added benefit of removing focus from some behind-the-scenes activity (like moving equipment, stands, etc., on the platform.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on these basic tips on stage lighting in worship.