I’m a lighting guy. I love good gear, fun new gadgets, and a dark room with a lot of haze. But, over the years, my idea of “great church lighting” has shifted. Our Worship Center on our Lake Forest Campus is bright. California sun pours in through floor to ceiling windows every week. I have learned that my job is not only to create beauty for an environment—but to add to, enhance, and be flexible with what already exists.
Each week, at Saddleback Church, we want people to come one step closer to Jesus.
We want them to hear from God and leave changed. So, when I sit down to program for our weekend services, my first question is always, “Will this add to or distract from someone’s experience?”
In another time in history artists and designers were asked to plan and then erect buildings that would cause people to encounter Jesus. The result was towering cathedrals full of stained glass, ornate carvings, and pipe organs multiple stories high. Those architects, designers, and artists were using the tools available to them to draw people’s attention heavenward and evoke a sense of awe and wonder when walking into those places of worship.
Today we design, plan, and create environments and atmospheres with similar goals, but more modern tools—LED walls, sets that change with each series, consoles that bring a room to life with color, and a little bit of haze. Even with all of the new technology, there is always the same concern: “Will this enhance someone’s experience, or detract from it?”
This is why programming lights for the church is so important. With one simple hit of a button, we can help shift the atmosphere in the room.
When people first walk into a Saddleback service, they encounter upbeat music and smiling faces greeting them. It’s a celebration! The bright, bold color on the walls and moving lights bouncing around the room create a space that is fun and inviting. Our hope is that they are put at ease and feel welcomed into something big and exciting.
As the music shifts to quieter moments of worship, softer lighting enhances the feelings of adoration and reflection. But the lighting never steals the moment—the moment is always about Jesus. The lighting is programmed to be an extension of the songs, the message coming from the stage, and to allow people to feel free to express themselves in their individual worship.
Lighting done well enhances everything else happening in the room. And while one push of a button can shift the atmosphere in the room—our deepest prayer is that their experience at Saddleback Church ultimately shifts something in their heart. We want them to experience Jesus in a way that brings them back for more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex leads the Lighting Team at Saddleback at our Lake Forest campus.
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