By David May
When thinking about church stage design and church presentations, it can seem like there are endless elements you need to think about. It may even be overwhelming looking at the countless church stage design ideas and different possibilities online.
But it’s important to remember that every church is different, and you should start with the basics of what works for your church. It’s okay to start with what’s simple to knock out first. Let’s look at a few key elements we’d consider to be “Church Stage Design 101.”
Lighting Matters Possibly More Than Any Other Element
One of the first (and simpler than you think) elements to get right in your worship environment is lighting. No element of church stage design or the physical space, in general, can affect the level of engagement your congregation has in worship more than lighting. Especially bad lighting. The great news is that it doesn’t take a huge budget or much technical knowledge to improve your existing room lighting by 100 percent.
If you want to add budget lighting from the ground up before you dive into actual DMX-controlled stage lighting systems, a popular stage design for churches right now is the exposed lightbulb look. You can find stand-up lamps and table lamps at your local supercenter or even a thrift store. Paint them black if needed, then get vintage-style bulbs for them (and a dimmer so you can make sure they’re not too hard on people’s eyes).
If you have fluorescent room lighting, find a way to stop using it for worship services. You can light your area with lamps placed along the edges of the room, fixtures that you hang, recessed lighting that you have installed, or even some PAR-can style lights aimed up at the ceiling.
If you’d like to add some color to your stage, you can find LED color strips that are now popular for backlighting home TV screens for under $15 for each strip. Attach them to some small wood pieces that are painted black and lay them across the back of your stage or stand them upright in various places.
Screen Visibility Is Important for Practical as Well as Aesthetic Reasons
A big decision that often gets undervalued in church stage design and worship space planning is screen placement. It’s pretty common that most churches will have projectors or TVs to display media of some sort (even simply lyrics and scripture), but it’s sometimes not as well thought out as it should be as to where the screen or screens are placed.
When properly sized and placed, your church presentation screens can add to your stage design aesthetically and practically, when they serve the people who come to your services well by allowing them to easily see the content you’re presenting.
If you use projector screens, make sure they’re not washed out by lighting that is directly over the projected image. Choose projectors that are powerful enough to display a bright image. Some smaller rooms may be able to benefit from TV screens as opposed to traditional projectors and screens.
Just make sure the screen is large enough to be seen from the back row. You can manipulate the font size and how much text is on each slide to improve this if you must use a smaller screen. If your room is very wide or it’s difficult to pick one focal point that is visible from all the seats, use two screens (one on each side, or even get creative and use a TV on each side with one center projection screen).
Consistency Between Stage and Tech Elements Is Necessary for a Cohesive Presentation
It’s important to establish an identity that is consistent as you work towards creating a cohesive presentation with your stage design, church media presentations, and even your signage and branding for that matter. Deciding what direction to take that works for your unique church body is a good first step in determining what style of elements you’ll need to incorporate in your presentations and stage design.
Let’s say you want to go for a warm or even “rustic” kind of look for your stage. Maybe you use string lights and vintage-style Edison bulbs with minimal colored lighting. This means when you choose backgrounds for your worship presentation screens, you’d want to pick ones that are cohesive with this style and energy level.
It probably wouldn’t look natural to display high-energy motion backgrounds with fast-moving elements that bounce around and flash lots of colors quickly. Instead, you’d want to look for softer or more subtle worship backgrounds that fit the style of the lighting and stage elements in your room.
Consider the Difference Between the Feel of the Room, In-Person & On Live Streams
In this day and age, we have to consider the reality that for most churches, we either already have or want to have people watching our worship services online as well as in person. Even if your desire is to hopefully have them come to your services at your location, it’s inevitable that many people will want to check out what’s going on at your church online first.
Check your camera angle and evaluate how it appears on screen. Even if you use a simple one-camera setup that you record or stream from a phone or tablet, be intentional about where you place the camera and what’s in its viewing area.
If there are less visually pleasing things like extra gear piled up on the sides of your stage but they are in the camera shot, tighten up the shot to where this isn’t visible. Things like that may blend in and be easy to overlook in-person but will clutter up and poorly impact the camera shot for viewers watching online.
Lighting can also be very different on-camera vs. in-person, so be sure that your camera image brightness settings are set at a sweet spot where it’s not either too bright and washed out or too dark and hard to see the people on stage.
Don’t Forget Quality Sound in Your Efforts to Improve Your Worship Space
If you have the nicest looking stage around but people can’t hear the message or engage in worship because of poor quality or distracting sound, it means much of the effort of improving your worship space has been wasted. After all, the most important thing is for people to be able to hear the Word of God being preached and participate in worship for Him.
Make sure the speakers in your church’s audio system are adequately covering the room and that they’re dialed in properly for clear and pristine reproduction of voices and instruments. Turn the volume up to where people can hear well even in the back of the room. Find a good volume for worship where the sound fills the room and people can feel comfortable singing along with the worship team.
Bring in professionals or invest in resources to train your sound engineers in how to use your soundboard to mix, bring out the clarity in voices and instruments, and remove the “muddiness” or low rumbly sounds that cause distractions.
While there are many things to consider when it comes to stage design and creating a cohesive presentation for your church, it’s easy to dive in and start making positive changes to your worship experience. You can make a huge impact in just a few hours of work.
Before you know it, you’ll be moving from budget-friendly and basic “stage design 101” to more advanced equipment and tools. People will be expectant and excited to come to your church every week and feel at home in the beautiful environment you create for them!
This information is courtesy of Worship House Media, which offers the largest and most diverse library of creative resources for your services, www.worshiphousemedia.com.