*You are reading a post in a series about forming a Sunday tech team. Feel free to read on, but you might like to start with earlier posts:
- Church Tech Job Descriptions: #1 – The Pastor
- Church Tech Job Descriptions: #2 – The Leader
- Church Tech Job Descriptions: #3 – The Sound Person
- Church Tech Job Descriptions: #4 – The Screens Person
Few aspects of modern worship are as often mocked as lighting. Frequent comments range from “What is this? A rock ‘n’ roll concert?” to “You all are going to hell!”*
But I would contend that the lighting is very important, as it helps to create an atmosphere in which (most) people are able to focus on God, not themselves and not those around them. To the people people who argue that a fully lit sanctuary is more holy or at the very least more appropriate for the solemnity of a church service, answer me this: how lit do you think church services were in the first through to nineteenth centuries?
Unless the place of worship had an abundance of windows and the church had the luxury to meet in the daytime, they were worshipping in a dark room. And for many church tradition, lighting—through candles—has been an integral part of cooperate worship for centuries, so I think it’s time for us to get over ourselves. Besides, in my church context, most people worship with their eyes closed, so what are we even complaining about?
Rant over. Sorry, lighting people. Just wanted to defend your honor and the importance of your ministry. The spot light is back on you, now.
Position: Lighting Person
Key Area of Responsibility
- Use lighting to assist in creating an atmosphere in which people can worship without distraction
- Illuminate the pastor as he or she speaks
There are basically two areas of responsibility for lighting in a Sunday service: worship and word. In the first area, the lighting should be used to reduce distractions so that the church can worship God and make Him their focus. When it’s time for the word, the lighting needs to shift so that the pastor is the focal point. Not because he or she is our spiritual focus but because they are delivering a message to the church that puts Jesus into focus for us. Illuminate the teacher / preacher as they elucidate the gospel.
Specific Weekly Responsibilities
- Verify that the lighting equipment is all functioning before the service
- Confirm that the lighting has been fully incorporated into any design elements for the service
- Run through all lighting cues to ensure smooth transitions and reduce descriptions
One of my pet peeves with our Sunday morning run-throughs was that the lighting was never set as it was going to be in the actual service. When I asked, I was told that the tech team wanted to “save electricity,” but that made less than zero sense since the stage lighting is LED, using less power than the incandescent bulbs that were otherwise being used.*
Eventually, we were able to get this done, but not until we had several in-service lighting failures, where our LEDs suddenly blacked out or—worse—unintentionally went into strobe mode. These type of distractions cannot be allowed to occur. Testing the lighting by having it set during the worship band’s warm-up is a great way to mitigate the chance of a lighting failure.
At the same time, if you’re sermon series artwork is all blues and greens, you don’t want lights that are reds and pinks. That sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised. Lastly, every member of the tech team should always go through every single item on the service order to verify that they are aware of every cue specific to their area of responsibility.
- Eye for visual design
- Detail-oriented, thorough in pre-service preparations
- Able to pay attention to service cues while also being alert to any visual issues that might suddenly arise
- Technical expertise related to running lights
I think I said something similar in the post about running sound, but the lighting person does’t need to know how to rewire the entire lighting rig, but he or she should have a general understand of how the system is laid out in order to find potential wiring or mechanical failures. This is a key skill, but in the end, attention to detail and focus are the biggest factors in providing a smooth worship experience.
- Run lighting week-to-week, doing what it takes to do that well
- Grow at your craft
- Pursue excellence while exuding an attitude of worship
The lighting of any room is the best avenue toward setting the mood. It isn’t the only one, but it’s a great one. If you want people to be less focussed on those sitting next to them so that they can better focus on God and feel freer to worship Him, then you’re going to want to do set the lighting in such a way that helps the individual forget themselves and others.
A darkened auditorium and a well-lit stage will do wonders in drawing people out of themselves and into God’s presence. That’s why the lighting is so important: it’s literally the first line of defense for any tech team that’s trying to eliminate distractions.
*Yeah, that more or less happened at our church in June.