A little over 3 years ago when I showed up at The Crossing Church. The stage looked something like this.
Nothing inherently bad (outside the plethora of fake plants – half of which you can’t see in this picture). The floating crosses were a little strange looking but were part of a compromise from days past. Carpeted stage, strange gray carpeted catwalk like thing protruding from the front. Generally not too different from most churches like it. After deciding that using the stage and design to help enhance our message we ventured into the design area. We started with no budget and today we still only have a small one. We did and do our best to use what we find around us, on craigslist, or repurpose what we can.
A lot of churches are beginning to embrace the idea that a church platform can be visually engaging, enhance the room and message, and be a creative way to communicate with those who come through their doors. We started toying around with the idea about 2 years ago and have seen the wonderful results from taking the time and energy to create spaces like this. We’ve had simple 3D paper mache letters on the front of our platform, a 16′ fishing boat, caution tape, giant LED light boxes and more (I mean obviously we’ve used Coroplast…). We started small and continued to recycle what we could to created bigger elements. Church Stage Design Ideas was a great place for us to get ideas and has great articles on this same topic – I highly encourage you to check them out.
Here are what I think are 5 great reasons to consider playing with the look of your stage.
1. It creates a visual environment. We all know culture is becoming more and more visual and while the Church shouldn’t always just give in to where culture is going and how it consumes, this is an area that the Church has been part of for most all of it’s history. From stained glass windows, to cross shaped basilicas, to ornate decor on and around the stage and more, the church has seen a reason to create places that can transport someone to another world, or enhance the story they are telling with stunning visuals. We are doing this more and more and the Visual Worship movement is spreading like wildfire. The stage can be one of those elements, and I would argue should be.
2. It creates memorable ideas. Sometimes creating a design around a sermon series can help someone recall or remember things from that series that they may have not otherwise. Like I said earlier we had a 16′ fishing boat on stage for about a 6 week period. People still remember that ugly green boat but most of all they remember what they took away from that series because they remember that boat. We ask them about other ideas from other sermon series and it’s harder to recall for them. It’s a Mnemonic device really.
3. It’s a great place for people to serve and volunteer. Think about the opportunity for those who like to work with their hands and like to build things, your creatives and designers who visualize things, and even those who don’t just want t place to serve. The church should always be looking for ways to involve people in the church and finding ways they can serve.
3 Reasons to not consider stage design
1. It’s more about the creativity and design than about pointing people to Jesus. I have fallen in this trap many times. Sometimes is more about being cool than anything else. Thats a great reason to stop or pause or not do it at all. No matter how cool your stage is or how awesome things look let’s not forget the main reason we gather; to share the love and Grace of a great big God. I’ve seen more ministry done on ugly stages than really pretty ones at times.
2. Your tradition and current environment is a extremely valued asset. Not every church needs to play with the look of the stage. Some badly need to do so… (yeah burnt orange 70’s shag carpet stage… I’m talking to you). But some places find comfort and importance in their “look” be it traditional or not. It’s always important to think of what you are trying to communicate and how you are doing so. That may lead to a realization that adding some Coroplast towers may take away from the ambiance that already exists. Be smart, don’t do it just to do it, do it for a reason… one that you have poured over in prayer.
3. You’re doing it to be cool. The church will never be as cool as MTV. The church will never be cool no matter how hard we try. That’s ok by me (some churches are cooler than others however… #JustSaying). Like I mentioned above if you are doing it just to do it then you’ve missed something. Actually all 3 of the “don’ts” could be summed but by saying, make sure you pray through the why.
Bonus: 4. Because you already have a bunch of ficus trees on stage. Why would anyone ever think of changing that!!! Who would ever want to remove a ficus tree!!!
I love the creativity that can go into arranging songs and making them your own. I think they killed it.
When I started leading worship years ago we were still using an overhead projector and clear plastic sheets with the lyrics printed on them. If you wanted to get fancy you would either hand write the lyrics in different colors and with artistic flair or use your computer to do something similar. God forbid you want to allow the spirit to move and repeat something… Now we have tremendous power at our fingertips with presentation software that is basically limitless with potential; multiple screens, 3D, moving text and so much more. But simply put you don’t need super fancy software to make your lyric presentation add to your services rather than just be part of the service.
I wrote my college thesis on a concept that would shortly after be termed as “Visual Worship.” In the recent history of the church we have been completely neglecting worshipping visually; worshipping with our eyes and not just our voice. Historically the church tried to connect worship with more senses that we do today, especially visually. Basilicas were built with a huge verticality to draw the eyes towards heaven. Every aspect of the architecture had a theological reasoning behind it. Stained glass windows were not much different than our modern worship screens today; colored glass telling visual stories when illuminated with light. If we understand the visual history of the church then maybe we should consider our lyric screens with more prayer and preparation than we currently might. It is not unusual for me to spend and hour or two on the screens to make sure every aspect is adding to our worship service. I consider the font, the background, the transitions, the colors, and so much more each week to hopefully add to the service weekly. This is not something to just pass to another person or secretary to just complete. This is something that can dramatically add to your worship service every weekend.
Here are 5 easy ways to start seeing your lyric screens as more than just words and part of your overall worship experience.
Here is the newest format for our video announcements.
We are hoping to go more organic and less green screen oriented with the actual talking head announcements but somebody decided to take a couple different trips around launch time… so when I get back we’ll continue to evolve them.
The motion graphics were done in After Effects, the green screen work as well. Everything else was edited in Premiere Pro
It was a little over a year ago when one fateful morning a small group of volunteers help tear the worn green carpet from the stage and painted the wood decking beneath black. Now granted we did some research to figure out what actually was under the carpet on the stage – nothing worse than planning all this only to find out what lies beneath would be worthless and you’ll have to spend a lot of money you didn’t plan on. I had always like the look of the black stage but couldn’t figure out how it would work for us, if there was something I was missing like a special type of flooring rather than just painting the wood black. It was after a friend of mine pulled the trigger at his church and I was able to pick his brain I decided to do it. Continue reading…
I’m a big fan of N.T. Wright.
This is a challenge for all artists; not just worship leaders and songwriters.
Let’s not just strike a match but light a candle
I have always been a Billy Corgan fan. I think he is a very thoughtful, well spoken, smart individual who writes solid music. Recently he was interviewed about the future of music. Here is what he said.
It wasn’t too many years ago when the worship leader was a rare position in the church. Now you can get a formal education specifically to be a worship leader. It is becoming very popular and the opportunities are rapidly growing for worship leaders today. I have been doing this professionally for about 7 years now and absolutely love what I do but that being said there are some things I wish I was told before jumped in. So if you are looking to become a worship leader here are some helpful thing every worship leader should know as they think about entering that ministry. Granted I don’t have the most experience but so far in my ministry career these are some things that I have found helpful.
10. Learn to play your instrument. No REALLY learn to play your instrument. You should never stop improving your craft. 4 chords and a capo wont cut it. (if you play guitar obviously). Take piano lessons, guitar lessons, voice lessons, and more. This is a gift God has given you, don’t be lazy with it. Continue reading…