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Lighting 101 // Three Rules of Ministry Lighting

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DMX, side light, top light, front light, wash, LED, conventional, Socopex, Edison, dimmer, color wheel, gobo, 3 face, 5 face…

It is basically a full time job just to keep up with all the terms and slang in the lighting world. 80% of churches don’t have the budget to hire a full time lighting designer. So how do you balance lighting into your already full schedule?

In this series of posts, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about lighting. From how-to’s and general knowledge, to effective lighting without breaking the bank.

The first thing I want to cover is the three rules of ministry lighting. If you have $100 in lighting or half a million dollars in lighting, without these three key points your, lights are useless.

1. Create something appealing to the eye.
The mission of the church is to save the lost. To save the lost you’re going to have lost people walking in the door each and every week. These people have pre-determined thoughts about what church is and what it’s like, they have years of religion instilled in their minds.
The first thing they need to think when they walk in is, “This doesn’t look like what I thought it would.”
You don’t know anything about them, you have no clue what they did the night before. They could have gone to a mind blowing concert and seen some of the best lighting in the world. You have to create something that’s just as attractive to the eye, but for a fraction of the budget.

2. Set a mood.
In the book of 2 Kings, there was an awful drought. The troops were out at battle and had no water to drink and were slowly dying. So the kings called to Elisha to come speak to them and pray. Elisha came and said “Bring me a harpist!” Now why did he need a harpist? He needed a harpist to softly play in the background while he preached and prayed. If you’re like me you probably didn’t understand that at first. The reason for that is that it sets a mood, a mood that increases the human brains attentiveness. Your second job as a lighting designer in the church realm is, “To create a mood that will increase not only lost sheep, but also born again Christians attentiveness and focus.”


3. Don’t be that guy.

I can train any average person to run a light rig. The hard part is training someone to know what’s overkill and what’s necessary. There comes a time when the best thing you can do in a lighting service is to do nothing. Lighting in ministry is always, always supposed to add to the service, to make it better. It is to never take away, distract, or hinder someone’s worship.

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3 Responses to “Lighting 101 // Three Rules of Ministry Lighting”

  1. Great stuff! Looking forward to more tips and tricks for lighting.

  2. Are there more lighting posts? Would love to see them.

  3. Yeah… More of a how to rather than why would be more pertinent I think.

    Plus, 1 and 2 are highly assumptive that the church in question is a seeker friendly Church. Lights and mood have no barring in a Bible believing Gospel driven church… Other than just nice aesthetics.

    But the passage you referenced from 2 kings (chpt 3) is not showing music used as a mood setter. Music definitely was used though to accompany praise and prayer, which calmed the mind of the prophet that he might clearly hear the word of the Lord… Not set a mood for everyone.

    Music often accompanied prophecies in the O.T.

    1 Chronicles 25:1
    David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals…

    And this “prophesying” was not revelatory, but rather proclamation and exhortation through lyrics of their music (see end of vs3.)

    Prophesying isn’t necessarily predicting the future or even speaking direct revelation… It is proclaiming truth (v5) to people (1 cor 14:3) and music is a vehicle for such proclamation on praise.

    On lighting though, a tutorial on how to run light sockets and power to those lights into a wood frame or pallet type background would be awesome.

    Seen something like this done at an All Sons and Daughters concert and it looked pretty awesome.

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