3 Years of Stage Design


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.


Our first stage design was a borrowed fishing boat with a few fishing themed props.  Yes I moved the crosses to the back wall.  If we were going to have them they didn’t need to be strangely floating above us at an awkward angle. I also don’t have pictures from my first few weeks till this picture but I began my deforestation process… I removed one fake ficus tree or plant from the stage each week until they were gone!


Another simple stage design we used for a series was just some caution tape on the back wall. (yes I know it looks a little strange with the crosses but at the time we couldn’t move them…)


We ventured into the land of pallets… I friend once posted on twitter that pallets and coroplast were the new ficus tress for the church.  I laughed.  This was also our first venture into some lighting to enhance the stage, they were either on or off.


Shortly after we experimented with a modern take on Advent Candles.  You can read more about these HERE.


Another look.  Set for our Christmas production that year.


Coroplast bulging out from the wall with lights, again still on or off.


The I Heart my Church series.  Styrofoam cut with a hot iron.


At the Movies sermon series. We built this marquee from scratch and have re-used it every year since.  You can check out a more detailed process HERE.


Easter production design.  Kinda tough to see all of it.  Rented some LED lights to add to the color.  Had paper lanterns left from a wedding and hung them along with a flowing drape of cloth.


This has to be one of my favorite designs of all time.  Yes you are correct, the carpet from the stage is gone… I loved the way it turned out.  You can read about the new painted stage HERE.  And a more detailed description of these light boxes HERE. The cloth that covered these boxes was from the cloth from the Easter design above.


This was a set for a sermon series that I can’t remember currently.  It involved basically newspapers, a glue and water mixture and some isolation boards.  Originally we wanted to paste the newspapers directly to the wall.  A site I referenced claimed that using this glue mixture would easily wash off with warm water… We tested it in the back… that newspaper is still their today.  ALWAYS TEST THINGS!!! Oh yeah we painted the back wall black too… living on the edge.


Greater Than series.  Dimmer packs allowed us to create some light chases with the arrows.  Also we ventured into the LED lighting area with 4 yeah count them hanging there… 4 LED lights.  Side note – During this series some now good friends of ours came for the first time.  They hated the stage (well she hated it).  Looked too much like a game show.  It was priceless when one night at dinner she mentioned that then asked who does the stage designs… Um… me.  You won’t hit a home run with everyone.


The return of the Marquee! Plus some 3D paper forms from HERE. It was nice to add a dimmer pack behind the marquee to better control the blinking lights.


This is another tough one to see but I believe this was from an Easter Production.  We rented motion lights, hazer, and a few LED lights.  We used stretchy screens in a pattern to create the look.


This was another fun design that I loved.  Homemade LED light boxes.  Check out the really detailed process HERE.


This one is a little blurry.  I can’t believe I don’t have more pictures of this.  We used a bunch of old pallets and basically nailed them to faux wall (so we didn’t have a million nail holes when it was time to change it). Check out the video below for a better look at what we did.  We hung old fashion Edison bulbs that would blink.  we actually purchased some trussing and motion lights and more LEDs.  FUN!


We got into he realm of environmental projection for a Christmas Eve Service.  It might be tough to see but it was snowing along the walls during the music and more.


The next design was originally sketched out like this in my sketched book.  I need lessons when it comes to drawing drums.


The final design!


We also used some projectors to add movement and images from time to time on the white squares.  We only did this when felt it really added, like on Oceans we added a simple loop of waves coming to shore.


Our current set is made from PVC pipes and some left over Christmas lights. It’s fun and ended up looking pretty darn cool if you ask me.

I don’t have pictures for every set we’ve ever used for some reason.  We started changing the set for each sermon series.  We shortly determined it would be a better use of time and resources to change them quarterly.  All my volunteers rejoiced!  You don’t have to do stage design.  Sometimes it’s beneficial, sometimes it’s not.  But this is a great retrospective of our past 3 years moving from a more traditional looking stage that had looked that way for the past 5 years to a constantly changing creative platform to hopefully engage and enhance.  Here is an article to consider if you are considering stage design – 3 Reasons to Consider Stage Design & 3 Reasons to Not


He's a nice guy


  1. Regina   •  

    I have always loved your stage designs Pastor Nate! They’re very unique, original, and modern. In fact, I have told Dave and the kids that I made a mistake in not consulting you when I redecorated our home…that’s okay…there’s always next time. And believe me there will be a next time. Anyhow, keep up the great work. You are so creative and very talented! Thanks for all you do and produce for CCON and most of all God’s Kingdom! :)

  2. Joseff   •  

    Hi! I really want to see the pallet video but unfortunately its now private.. any chance I can see?

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