Church Lighting Basics

Whether your church is hosting a Christian band or the reverend is enlightening onlookers with an encouraging speech, it is vital to light the space correctly. After all, there are a ton of benefits from great lighting.

Benefits of great lighting

  • Add emotion to the stage – whatever vine you’re aiming for!
  • Lets the audience know what to look at
  • Transforms services from boring to fun!
  • Add dimension and takes away undesirable shadows


To effectively light the stage for the optimum look and feel of a show while efficiently utilizing time and money, there are a couple basics to know. First, ask yourself a few questions to help the whole process run smoothly:

  • Why do you need lights? Do you even need to buy any, or do you have some lighting that is already suitable for the event?
  • What do you need from the lights? Should they be dimmable, suitable for filming a video, or colored?
  • How will the lights be installed? Will you use portable, rentable equipment or opt for installing lights for permanent use?

Once you know what to look for, it becomes significantly easier to find what you want.

Source: Morgan Highley

What to do next?

The next step for church lighting is to divide the stage into zones in order to make the sectors more manageable, allowing control over each space and preventing any unlit holes. Then, determine what positioning of lighting you desire for each zone:

  • One point lighting: When one light, the “key light” is used to create a soft glow, but often needs a backdrop or reflection to diffuse the light. You see one point lighting everyday in nature, when the sun acts as the key light.
  • Two point lighting: When the key light shines on the focal point but is complemented by a “fill light” from behind or up above (like a ceiling light or chandelier) to reduce unwanted shadows and contrasts.
  • Three point lighting: For a more three-dimensional look, add two lights from the front and then a third light from above to eliminate unattractive shadows.


What do you need?

After determining the stage design you desire, it’s time to ensure that you have all of the equipment needed to light the church stage.

The basic lighting fixture that everyone needs is called the par can – the fixture that holds a variety of lamps in order to provide an assortment of lighting options.

In addition to the par can, you may need to install bars to hang the lights from, or invest in stands that are tall enough to hold the lights. Of course, you will also need light bulbs. LED light bulbs tend to cost more than CDLS, however, they do famously last longer than other light bulbs. LEDs also have a stronger light and use less electricity.

Overall, the essentials you will need are:

  • Light bulbs
  • Fixtures/ stands
  • Par can

The equipment that you may possibly require:

  • Lanterns
  • Fresnels
  • Spotlights
  • Lighting bars
  • Lighting rigs
  • Colored lights


Practice which lighting techniques work best for your church stage, and then get ready to enjoy the show!