So you want some lighting for your church?
Perhaps you have used rented lighting for special events in the past, or perhaps you are 100% new to this whole lighting thing. To you, lighting may be a necessity or desire for shooting video or adding color and focus to your stage.
Before buying or searching out an company to install a system for you, here are some things you need to know and questions you need to ask.
Do I Need Lighting? – Why?
The first question is why?
Over the past few years, I have heard many, many, varied reasons for wanting to invest in some lighting. Some churches and venues desire to to create a more modern experience, using the technology of lighting to help the mood they are trying to get across. Others may film or live-stream their services, and are having poor results with inadequate stage lighting or no lighting at all!
I have personally seen many churches go out and buy a lighting system without first asking this “why” question, and they are disappointed in the end with the result they receive.
Many times, a lighting system that the church has is fully capable to do what they need, but is not set up properly by the contractor for the church’s specific needs.
This isn’t always the contractor’s fault, as they didn’t have a clear vision for what the lighting system needed to do. “If you do the wrong thing right, it is still wrong.”
Recently I was at a church, working as the lighting director for an Christian artist, and the tech director told me of how they were very frustrated with the limitations of their lighting console, and showed me some issues that they have with their moving lights.
Not having much experience with their console, I jumped in and programmed my show. After the event, we were talking, and I was able to help them reconsider their frustrations by outlining some features and setups for their lighting console that they were not aware of.
I showed them the basics and pointed them to the manual for more information as I left. Their system was more capable than they thought, and their console could do more than they thought – it was just that both their contractor and a local LD assured them that the console was junk!
This kept them from making an unnecessary purchase, allowing them to put money into the ministry for other needs instead of buying a lighting console that would have been overkill.
I can’t pound this into the ground enough.
You need to first seek your own heart and figure out exactly why you want lighting or more lights. Don’t go and buy until you have the heart intention figured out.
The next question we ask is “what?”
Specifically, what are the needs of our lighting system?
The camera is more sensitive to changes in intensity than our eyes are. But what happens when the pastor walks out onto the stairs in front of the stage? We lose him in the video!
Do the houselights need to be controlled?
Are they dimmable currently, or do they need to become that way?
What about color changes and moving lights?
Before going forward with a purchase, all of the particular needs of the lighting system need to be spelled out in a clear document, communicating between all parties involved as to what is desired and required.
It doesn’t have to be super-fancy or written by a lawyer, just clear.
You need to make sure that your church is telling the contractor the needs of the lighting system, or else they may try and sell you something that doesn’t fit your needs.
Last, but oh-so-certainly-not-least, is the how.
How do we install a lighting system?
Many churches and venues have an inflexible, installed lighting system that works one purpose.
Others use a mix of installed and portable equipment to vary the set designs and setups for special events.
Some installed systems have a great deal of flexibility.
When choosing a contractor or company to install your system, the “how” matters.
Have in mind what you want the end outcome to be, and avoid being preyed on by companies out there who seek to take advantage of churches and steer them into purchases they don’t need.
If you don’t have a clear picture of the outcome in your head, visit other local churches and talk with their technical team. You will learn a lot very quickly by asking them what they like and don’t like about their installed lighting systems!
Take Your Time
A church or special event venue lighting system in very complicated, and I urge you to do your due diligence in searching out the needs for your venue when deciding on a major or minor lighting purchase.
Like many other times in life, you need to know yourself and your needs before you go looking for someone to help you satisfy your lighting needs. Always remember to consider specific technical wants and desires and bring them up with a consultant, contractor or company, so that your ministry can perform at it’s greatest.
You don’t have a be an expert, but you must know what you need!
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