One of the greatest challenges for Programming Pastors and Creative Arts Directors when comes to stage design is how to keep the stage look fresh, new, and current. A colleague once told me that at his church, he was required to change the stage look every week. I cannot image what a challenge that was for him to come up with a new design from one week to another.
As much as I understand the advantages of walking into a new and fresh worship environment every week (and there are only a few), making stage design such a high priority in your church could be a sign that you are focusing on the wrong thing when comes to weekend worship service.
See, I don’t think that the goal is for our congregations to leave the worship service every week saying how nice the stage looked. Instead, we hope our services are so engaging that people leave with a sense of a bigger connection with God than when they came in.
Stage design and special elements are definitely part of that experience, but not the main thing. Instead, just like everything else related to a worship service, stage design needs to fit into the substance and content. It should not be a distraction, but it should fit seamlessly into the whole environment of your church’s worship experience.
My experience has taught me that one formula that works really well is to keep it simple and make it excellent. A simple design has a great deal of power and impact on people when it is presented with excellence. So, during our regular weekend services, we focus more on excellence then how complex, different, and fresh the worship is designed.
When the focus is content, people’s lives are impacted by the message of each song, special element, video, and sermon. When good content is absent, we then look for artificial ways to fill the gap with fresh, new, and current looks and elements. Yet without good content, these things alone are without purpose and won’t impact and lead people to Christ.
Every weekend, we should be very intentional about everything we bring to our stage design. Here are few things that, when done correctly, can impact your worship experience and without modifications from week to week:
1. Projection: When programming the background for worship, select images and motion videos that complement the message of the song. Sometimes, you can go to the extent of creating your own background utilizing Adobe After Effects or Final Cut Motion, customizing 100% your presentation. Displaying the lyrics with meaningful backgrounds can be powerful during a worship service.
2. Transitions: Create transitions between songs and service elements (i.e., videos) that make sense and are seamless.
3. Lyrics: When displaying song lyrics on screen, make sure the font and font size are visible and clear for everyone in the building.
4. Lights: Make your stage lights complement the overall look on stage. Provide a good balance between the worship team, and ensure that the worship leader is well lit. (Quick tip: moving lights don’t have to be moving all the time.)
5. Stage Design: Build a stage design that makes sense with the current sermon series or fits a season. The biggest issue I personally see with stage design in churches is doing too much and adding too many elements that only get in the way. When comes to stage design, less is more, and consistency is key for success.
Doing those things can create a big impact in your weekend service and will bring consistency in quality from one week to another. When comes to the worship experience, nothing is more important than content, and that content must be delivered with excellence. By keeping it simple, you will have the a greater chance to achieve the goal to lead people to Christ, and they will grow closer to God through a service done with intentional simple elements, delivered with excellence.