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Your Guide to Church Stage Lighting Basics

church stage lighting

What equipment do you need to establish church stage lighting basic? You need the basic light fixtures, rigging, and a lighting console. The basic light fixtures include wash lights, beam lights, and spotlights. The rigging depends on the number of lights and the size of the church: in small churches, you may use a few stands to mount your lighting; in larger areas, you may require complex arrangements involving various metal trusses and a fly tower.

Your Guide to Church Stage Lighting Basics

Determine the Amount of Light You Need

If you do not have enough lights, or if the lights are not powerful enough, your stage lighting may make it more difficult to see the stage and performers. The goal of stage lighting basics to illuminate the stage, highlight the performers, and add atmosphere. Without the assistance of professional lighting technicians, you need to estimate the amount of lighting that you require. There are three main questions to ask yourself when determining your lighting needs:

  • What is the size of the area that needs lighting?
  • How far away are the light fixtures from the stage?
  • Do the light fixtures need to be controlled during the event?

If the area that you are lighting is small and the lights are closely positioned, you may require a series of low-powered lights. 300W to 500W lights should provide adequate power. For larger venues, you may need light fixtures that reach the stage from a great distance. In these situations, you need powerful lights with narrow beams. The narrow beams spread as they reach the stage. Powerful lights may have 2000W of power.

It’s easy to get carried away with lighting and install more lights than you require. In a small church, you may only require one of each type of light. A single Fresnel light can wash the stage. You can use a strip of beam lights on each side for adding color and atmosphere and one or two spotlights to highlight performers. In a larger space, you should still start small and build your way up. Use the same setup described above and determine how much more lighting you require. For example, you may find that you need a couple of extra wash lights to wash the stage from a distance. You may also add extra spotlights to profile more performers. Larger spaces also allow you to include additional series of beam lights. You can add strips of beam lights at different distances to create complex lighting arrangements.

Before purchasing your light fixtures, you need to choose between LED and conventional lamps. Conventional lamps burn out and need replacement. They are often more expensive and have traditionally provided brighter output. However, LED lights have come a long way. With few exceptions, you can now purchase LED lights that are just as bright and powerful as any conventional lamp available. (NOTE: Par Cans do not typically use LED bulbs. You may also need conventional lamps when using a very powerful beam from a great distance, as the amount of LED lighting needed to create the same effect may not be economical.)

Purchase Rigging to Support Your Light Fixtures

Lighting trusses are often used for mounting a series of lamps from a fly tower. The fly tower is a series of wires or ropes mounted above the stage area. Lighting trusses may also be used anywhere that you need to temporarily mount lightings, such as the side lighting or beam lights.

If you do not want to set up massive metal trusses, you can use various stands and towers to set up your lighting. With a stand or tower, you may need a lamp bar to house a series of lights. For example, when placing a row of Par Cans to the side of the stage on a light stand, you can use a lamp bar to keep them uniform.

Chains, safety cables, pulleys, and other gear may be needed to properly support your church stage lighting. If the lights are positioned above people’s heads, you need to use extra precaution to ensure that the lights are correctly secured to the rigging. (You may also need to install hoist motors or electronic controls if you want to move the lighting remotely.)

Choose A Church Stage Lighting Console

Along with the light fixtures, you may need a lighting console to control the lighting. Lighting consoles are convenient, but they are not always required. In a small venue, you may only need a few lights, which can easily be adjusted with using a console.

The first detail to consider is the number of channels that the console can control. Each channel is used to control one light fixture. You may also want to find a lighting console that includes a specific number of faders. The faders allow you to adjust the dimmer setting on a group of light fixtures.

There are also many special features to consider. If you want to pre-program your church stage lighting basics you need a lighting console that allows you to set scenes. These scenes can be stored, making it easier to create the same effects for multiple performances.


In the end, choosing the equipment for church stage lighting basics requires planning. You need to determine the type and amount of lighting that you require. In a small church, you may only need a couple of wash lights, some sidelights, and a couple of spotlights. For larger churches, start small and add lighting as needed.

You may also want a combination of LED and conventional lights. While you can find powerful LED lights, you may need conventional lights for bright beam lighting.

The lights also need to be positioned, which requires the use of rigging. Various trusses, ladders, and stands are used to secure the lights and keep them from crashing to the ground.

The final component for your church stage lighting basics is the lighting console. The console allows you to adjust the intensity of the lights without manually adjusting dimmer switches. Using a lighting console is a lot like using an audio mixer. You can group lights together and control them with faders.

If you need assistance setting up your church stage lighting basics, you should also consider working with a professional lighting technician. They can assess your needs and help you find the right equipment.


This article on church stage lighting basics originally appeared here, and is used by permission. This article on church stage lighting basics was also published in MinistryTech Magazine.