Church Stage Lighting Basics You Will Absolutely Want For 2021

Church Stage Lighting Basics

Church Stage Lighting Basics

Why Church Stage Lighting Is So Important

One of the most reliable ways to breathe new life into church services and worship music is through high-quality church stage lighting. The lighting in your church can truly make or break your congregation’s experience, so it’s really important to get it right.

When you nail the church stage lighting basics, it can add dimension and inspiration to whatever is going on onstage. It adds depth and texture. It can take the visuals of your church from boring to dynamic.

If you choose lighting that isn’t bright enough, your congregation may miss out on important action that is taking place on the stage. You may be missing out on important opportunities to share your message with them because they cannot see.

On the other hand, if the lighting is too bright it can also be a major issue. If your worship leaders, music performers, and others who take to the stage are blinded, it can make it a lot more difficult for them to complete their tasks.

Bad lighting can also be dangerous. If it’s blindingly bright or too dark or casts harsh shadows, it can cause people to trip and hurt themselves.

Clearly, excellent church stage lighting is essential, not just for the people watching from their seats, but also for those who are performing.

Choosing the Right Church Stage Lighting

There are several elements you need to think about when choosing the right church stage lighting. How big is your church? How far away from the stage will people be sitting or standing? How is the stage platform shaped?

Once you’ve put some thought into these questions, you’ll begin to form a clearer idea of what kind of lighting might be best for the stage in your church. Then, you’re ready to start diving in on learning stage lighting basics.

Stage Lighting BASICS

Church Stage Lighting Basics has 6 main parts –

  • 1. Stage Wash
  • 2. Back Light
  • 3. Side Light
  • 4. Background Lighting
  • 5. Decor Lighting
  • 6. House Lights

You need to start with the stage lighting basics then you can add on. Recommendations will be at the end of this article for a couple stage lights in each category.

Find out why it’s so important to use quality lighting to make dynamic worship experiences for your congregation.

Stage Wash – Front Wash

Church Lighting Stage Wash

Wash lights give an overall fill of light and/or color to your church’s stage lighting. Essentially, it provides the front light for your whole production.

They are incredibly important for your church stage lighting as they can deliver that warm and cozy feeling that so many worshipers are looking for. You don’t want a stark environment. You can use lighting gels to change the color of tradition stage lights. Newer LED lighting is able to change color via DMX. They also have a lower power consumption and they don’t need separate dimmers.

I have always found it better to hang these rigs up as high as possible. Why? Because it gives you that background fill effect. Positioning them on the floor will prevent them from reaching their full potential. You must give them room to shine.this is a bad stage wash

In my experience, it’s a lot easier to hang moving head lights but some technicians prefer to hang multiple par can lights. Regardless, they need to be placed at least 2 feet apart to give you the desired effect. Remember to include this gap in your calculations. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for wash lights that you can’t use!

For me, a good wash stage light has the following capabilities:

  • DMX control
  • Pan/Tilt – Manual or using a controller
  • Color Control – Either Using DMX – Internal Settings or with Gels
  • Multiple modes — static color, master salve, and DMX-512
  • Solid and durable construction

Back Light is Important

Back Light Only Church Lighting Basics

Most people tend to overlook back light but it’s one of the top three most important lighting elements. In other terms, it is “light shining from behind”. Simple, right?

Usually, you will want your back lights to hang towards the rear of your church stage. However, you can play around with the angle (which I strongly encourage you to do). Try a very low angle, a very high one, and somewhere in-between to figure out which works best for your stage setup. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of deal.

The main purpose of back lighting is to show the depth of the people and props on the stage. Without it, the human eye finds it difficult to reference the stage depth and thus, struggles to watch the performance.

You can play around with the color too, but I’ve found this to be unnecessary if you have a good wash light. I’d recommend opting for a warm back light set up to introduce that comforting glow I mentioned earlier.

It’s worth noting that all back lights need a brighter light output. Sometimes, this feels counter intuitive while you’re setting up but it makes sense. The light’s job is to reflect but only a small percentage of the output is reflected. So, it needs to be bright enough at the source for it to be effective.

Side Light

Side Light

Side light should be treated with as much importance as the back light. I have always found them to be useful for added ambiance and dimension. You just need to understand a little about shadows before you can hang side lights like a pro.

When you put a spotlight on one side of the person on the stage. The area you are lighting, as well as the shadow, will stretch across the opposite side of the floor. Watch out for Video Screens.

Now, not all stage productions can benefit from just one sidelight — and your church sermons are no different. You will need more than one light to bring a cozy atmosphere to life.

As far as the bulb color/color temperature goes, I would suggest that you match the side lights with the back light. This ensures that your stage looks professional and coherent, without evident blocks of mismatched color.

Church Backdrop Lighting

backdrop lighting baiscs

Backdrop lighting, otherwise known as set lighting, is a great place to play around with LED lights (i.e. the modern way to light the background). Here, the exact color temperature doesn’t matter too much, so you can use a lot of LED fixtures to make it work (spotlights, cyclorama lights, you name it!).

While it is important, you can choose to be less picky about the specific church lighting you buy. Of course, the better the light, the better the color. But, don’t waste all of your budget on this. Over the years, I have found it far more effective to focus on the church Front Light and Side/Back Lights first.

You should be using this light to boost your already present warm atmosphere and not to create a new dimension. As always, I encourage you to play around with different setups but just keep your goal in mind. People coming to worship don’t want stark, glaring performances. They are after a homey, welcoming feeling.

Stage Decor Lighting

Decor Lighting

Church Decor lighting is just that; lights that are there to decorate your church. I like to call it the cherry on the cake. Your aim with this is to enhance your space and make it sparkle. In other words, you are accessorizing.

I have seen many people use the beautiful stained-glass windows in the church as decor lighting. This is a fantastic idea if your service is taking place during the day. However, it becomes ineffectual at nighttime. Even on gloomier days, stained-glass windows can’t provide the high-level of decor light you are looking for.

In my opinion, candles fit the bill perfectly. They offer that cozy feeling that worshipers seek and are very inexpensive. If you do go down this road, I would recommend that you use artificial candles so that the fire risk is negated.

Alternatively, you can use LED spotlights to highlight the magnificent architecture or make the stage pop even more. The world is your oyster when it comes to decor lighting.

Church House Lights

house lights

It isn’t just the church stage lights you need to think about. You have to light the pews and entrance ways before and after the service. The specific method you choose is completely up to you, but you need to provide some kind of light.

Nowadays, I use LED lights with DMX capabilities. Why? It’s just easier. You can program everything and then not worry about it for the whole service. Plus, you can provide continuity to your services by allowing the stage design to flood over the pews or chairs. It makes for an all-encompassing worship experience.

Although, if you just want functional church house lights. Then you will save a lot of money with floodlights that have only two states — off and on. There are no bells and whistles here, but if your aim is to get people seated, you can’t go wrong with floodlights.

Programming Your Church Lighting

People are there to worship. Your lighting should help add to the service. But if it is done wrong it can be a distraction.

Plan Your Transitions

Add fade times if possible.

Fade out mover before making changes. Avoid

  • abrupt gobo changes
  • color wheel snaps
  • Prism changing to no prism

Get to Know Your Controller and Lights

You might have time to program the whole service before. But if you are busking, you need to know know what will happen when you select an effect. Do you have control of the speed? If you don’t know what will happen. Don’t select that effect.

My Basic Lighting Tips to Become a Better Church LD

Not every light needs to do the same thing

You see a lot of stages and it looked like the LD Selected all lights and turned them the same color, same gobo, same position. Find ways to make it more interesting. Use variation of colors. Some lights zoomed in some not.

You do not need to use all the lights all of the time

Not every light need to be at 100%

Church Stage Lighting

Recommended Church Stage Lights

1. Front Light –

  • Moving – Mac Aura XB or Chauvet R2 Wash
  • Moving With Shutters – Robe Esprite Profile  or Elation Fuse Profile
  • Non Moving – ETC Source Four LED Studio HD or Chauvet Ovation E-910FC
  • Used – You can find Used Source 4 LED Lekos at
  • Budget – Chauvet DJ EVE E-50Z – Check the Price on Amazon

2. Back Light –

  • Moving – Robe LEDBeam 150 or Elation Fuze Wash 575
  • Non Moving – Fresnel style fixture – Martin Rush Par 2 or Chauvet Ovation F-915FC
  • Budget – Chauvet Rogue R1 Wash or Blizzard HOTBOX EXA

3. Side Light –

4. Background Lighting –

  • Moving – GLP Impression X4 Bar or Robe Tetra1 (video)
  • Non Moving – Chroma -Q Color Force II or ETC ColorSource Linear
  • Budget – Blizzard LB SPEKTRUM or Martin Rush Batten 1 Hex

5. Decor Lighting –

  • Moving – Robe MegaPointe or Elation Dartz 360
  • Non Moving – Elation Sixpar 300 or Elation Sixpar 1000
  • Budget – Elation ACL 360i or Blizzard Wink or Blizzard Flurry Z

6. Church House Lights –

Elation Fuze Pendant or ADJ COB Wash Cannon or Chauvet Ovation H-55FC

Bonus – Footlight

Robert Juliat Dalis 862 or Chauvet Ovation CYC 1 FC or ETC ColorSource Linear

Bonus – Recommended Church Stage Hazer

Look Solutions Unique 2.1 is the best hazer any church can buy. This hazer has a shut down cycle were it gets ride of the extra fluid in the heater. It cleans it self each time you shut it down. I personally own 3 of them and I really enjoy the Output – Size – and Fluid usage. You can set it at 10 pump and 10 fan. It will constantly put out the same amount of haze.

  • 1 min heat up time
  • at max output – 10 ml per min
  • 2 DMX channels
  • Variable output – 0-100%
  • 1500 watt heater – You will want to plug this into its own circuit.
  • Fluid cost $55 for a 2 liter bottle
  • It weighs 27 pounds
  • Unit price is $1570

Monkey Wrench Productions has New Unique hazers listed at $1428.70 Check out their listing here. They also sell Fluid – I buy my fluid from them – not an Affiliate Link – I use them for all my lighting needs.

Cheap Church Lights

I know not every church stage can afford or wants to spend money on a high quality new lighting system. You can find video after video of people that have used cheap led tape and other things to make a great looking stage lighting system. If you can chose – spend more money on better front light. Moving head and beam lights are great But first focus on your stage wash First.

If you only want one stage look – you can buy lights with remotes or that have stand alone mode. If you want to change your lights song by song. You will need to be able to control them using DMX. You can get creative with your church stage lighting design.


Every church is different and every LD is different. Put together a lighting system for your church that fits your church. You don’t need expensive lights to have a beautiful worship service.

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Church Stage Lighting

Church Stage Lighting Basics You Will Absolutely Want For 2021
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