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Advice about making transition from full house lights to dim lighting on congregation

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  • Advice about making transition from full house lights to dim lighting on congregation

    My church is very traditional in a lot of ways, but most of the songs we sing would be considered modern worship songs. Our lighting however is very traditional. Full house lights are up. A little extra lighting on stage but not so much that anyone would notice. As a worship leader I've never been a huge fan of dim house lighting, because I want to be able ot see the worshipers and know how how they're reacting to the worship. My recent reading however has led me to see that many might feel more comfortable worshiping if they feel like they can't be seen as well.I'd like to get some advice from someone who has been through the transition of taking a congregation from one extreme to the other. How did you do it? How did they react? Any advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    If you still use hymnals , you won't be able to darken the sanctuary , but if not , get your Pastor and some " power brokers " on board . You will be questioned . Do it gradually . Explain they are not " spot " lights but accent lighting . When explaining to critics , use the example of hi end Doctor's office waiting room , or an art gallery , or a waiting room in a fancy restaurant . How comfortable and relaxed the indirect lighting makes one feel .

    We all know that thousands if not millions have been saved in cafeteria lighting , in rice paddys , jungle clearings , churches with any and every kind of lighting . The Holy Spirit will transform under any conditions . That said , it is so much easier to have one's focus drawn forward to the song leaders and those preaching the Gospel when house lighting directs one's attention there .

    Sunday mornings are not concerts ; none of us believe that or want that , but appropriate , modern lighting can be one more tool in our tool kit to prepare hearts for the Holy Spirit"s work .


    • #3
      Shawn, you won't find a one size fits all thing here. Lots of preferences at play on a Sunday morning anywhere.

      First and foremost, if leadership isn't both on board and well versed in "why are we doing this thing differently?" then you will have a rough go. Everyone needs to be able to give a simple answer and point to the right place/person if they want more info or a conversation.

      We are now in a 1000 seat room but even when we were 125 seats we dimmed our recessed lighting during worship and had track lights on our 8 foot ceiling pointed at the band... so I can't give specific advice to this transition.

      We moved into our current location in 2008 and with it came some growing pains technically. Most of ours centered around volume. Ultimately we arrived at a range that pastors, worship pastors, and production staff are all comfortable with. We then communicated that with staff, elders, and a few volunteers in a brief email so everyone could say the same thing. Here was our basic pitch, in audio context, but it may help you think through how to handle any production philosophy shift:
      Over the last six months we've been doing a lot of research, both scientific and philosophical, about volume during worship. Music is a dynamic thing and there will always be quieter and louder moments. We've decided that we have a comfortable target range that we want to operate in and we have been for the past month (and longer really). Every service will be different with band members, song selection, and focus but this past month, overall, has been a great representation of who we want to be as a worshipping church. If you have issues with how the services have been over the past month, please realize this is how we are going to aim moving forward. If you have any questions please feel free to talk with Travis (me, the Prod Director) or Fred (worship pastor) and they'll be happy to discuss the safe range we're operating in and help you maybe find more favorable seating (in our two back corners).
      Travis Paulding,
      Production & Technology Director, St. Simons Community Church


      • #4
        We don't use hymnals, so that's not an issue. I agree, in the big picture, lighting really doesn't matter to what the Holy Spirit is going to do. Previously, I would have balked at the idea of dimming the house lights but once I read in a few different places that being in a darker area made people more comfortable to worship freely, I began to wonder if I needed to rethink my stance. Thanks for the input.


        • #5
          Love this approach Travis. When/if we make a change, I will definitely make sure everyone is on board and has the same answers to those type of questions. This is a very smart way to approach change.


          • #6
            I agree- Good way to help everyone in leadership communicate a consistent message.

            It may not even need to go all dark- we leave off a row of lights towards the front near the platform, which lowers the overall brightness of the room then use an array of can lights (accent lighting) to light the stage. What this does is makes the stage area a focal point of the room. Not to put a spotlight on the team per se, but drawing attention to that area of the church. It allows people to focus forward towards the team instead of their neighbor.

            So maybe instead of going from full-on to almost dark, use some targeted lighting techniques to get the best of both worlds. Or at least it might be an easier sell than going all the way- not quite as dramatic, more of a gradual shift.
            If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.