By Scott Kinnebrew
The modern church has become more than just a place for worship; it is a center point of the community, a gathering place, a location for celebration. Be it a guest speaker, a wedding, a theatrical or musical performance, a holiday celebration, fundraiser, festival, or other special event, there are very likely other things going on at your church other than just worship services.
As our congregations grow, so do the events we host. Making sure that these events are something that the folks attending them will have fond memories of is essential. Most of us aren’t equipped to directly support these events ourselves, so finding a reliable source is an important step.
First, try to stay local, as hiring from out of town can make issues difficult to solve if any arise. Local shops know the area, and they can solve issues like missing gear, broken gear, or not enough of something because they can get back and forth to their shop easily. They also have partner companies in town, so if they don’t have it or they need something last minute, they can get it and save you time and headache of chasing it down yourself.
Also, when you work with a local company, you are supporting your community and making sure these companies are there in the future. The Internet is a good start, and referrals are a great way to find solid partners to work with, as well to talking to other congregations in your area.
I’m always going to suggest rental as a solution for special events. Not only are you going to have the support of a professional group to support it, but you don’t have to worry about the maintenance and labor related to the few times a year you need it.
Also, not everything we need is universal in its use. Items we use in our sanctuaries may not work well outside, and products we may use for an event in a courtyard may differ greatly from what we might use in a large parking lot or field. This goes for lighting, sound, staging, special effects, video, or anything else you don’t use on a regular basis.
There are many different sizes and types of temporary stages. Each style serves a purpose, so selecting the type that best serves your event is very important.
Stages can be just about any size, from something as little as a small platform elevating a single speaker or performer above the rest of the group to something the size of a Broadway stage that allows lots of people to be the center of attention. Regardless of size, stages change any space, be it a sanctuary, a gymnasium, a multipurpose room, or a parking lot.
Proper modular stages are large and heavy, and buying one means you need to find a space to store them, as well. Renting them will give you access to a professional crew, who will make the set-up and tear-down a breeze. This ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Lighting is also another item that can enhance our events. Lighting transforms, but it’s not just the lights. It’s having the right power, the right connectors, and a proper place to place them so they do their intended job.
There is just about every type of light available nowadays for our events, but they may not be something that we are going to use every week, or even every month for some items. So, once again, you need to determine if owning vs. renting is best for your budget.
If it’s something easy to set up and store when done, by all means buy it if the price is right. Having it on hand anytime you need it is super convenient, and buying from a local company can help you feel confident that the gear is going to work.
Professional rental companies aren’t going to sell or rent products they can’t rely on. It also gives you a resource for questions, issues, or in case you need more of it in the future. Buying on the Internet from a company that doesn’t specialize in professional gear or that sells lighting along with tires and dog food can be a money saver in the beginning, but getting support after the fact can sometimes be impossible.
Talking to a lighting professional can help you decide what type of product is going to work for your event, where to put it, and how to put it there.
In addition to creating the space and illuminating it, special effects can add a whole new level of excitement to events. Fog, haze, snow, bubble machines, strobe lights…all of these effects can help bring theatrical level moments to your events.
When it comes to adding rental gear or new gear, making sure you have a way to control it is essential. The console in your sanctuary should work just fine for events in that space, but if you are utilizing other areas, or your current lighting console is not so new, renting or having a console specifically for special events will be a life saver.
Talking to your local lighting and stage company can give you the resources of seeing exactly what is possible for the special events you are having at your church. Staging, lighting, cables, rigging, control are all things that they are familiar with, and they will make sure you have everything to get it all working together.
Special events are a great way to introduce new people to your congregation and an awesome way to show them just how special your church is. Adding a little bit here and there will make each one memorable.
Scott Kinnebrew is in business development for StageSpot, your one stop for all your theatrical lighting, stage lighting and other stage-supply needs, www.stagespot.com.