What's in this session?

  • Stage design is one of the things that churches obsess over that doesn’t move the needle forward (0:28)
  • 465 published videos on our YouTube channel - the most popular with a quarter of a million views is called 'Three Small Church Stage Design Ideas'
  • ‘3 Small Church Stage Design Ideas’ (1:08)
  • STAGE DESIGN FOUNDATION: Lighting (1:45)
  • BIG IDEA: 1x2x8 wood boards from Home Depot, painted black and combined with LED tape (2:32)
  • Example #1: Worship Leader Hangout (4:46)
  • Example #2 - The Well (Geneva, IL) (6:22)
  • Example #3 - Palm Valley Church (Mission, TX) (7:12)
  • Example #4 - Dunn’s Creek (San Mateo, FL) (9:35)
  • Example #5 - Praise Church (Beaumont, TX) (10:47)
  • Safety disclaimer: Fire and rigging safety is important, and varies per region (12:28)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Complete Sermon Series Graphics Bundle – this free bonus includes 24 total graphics – including title graphics AND blank graphics so you can add your own text

The Transcript

Brady Shearer: Church stage design can feel intimidating, especially if you’re a smaller church. But here’s the good news. You can design a stunning church stage on a budget and by the end of this podcast, you’ll know exactly how and we’ll share with you five churches that are implementing these costs, saving stage designs as inspiring examples.

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show to help you share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills joined as always by Brady Shearer.

Brady Shearer: Stage design is one of the things that we found churches obsess over more than they probably need to.

Alex Mills: That’s how you’re going to get the youths to come to your church. Got to have a cool stage. Am I right?

Brady Shearer: Interestingly, there’s a book that was released by Barna a few years ago called Making Space For Millennials, and it found that only 8% of millennials have said, we don’t attend church because it’s out of date.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: So my best guess would be that updating your stage design is not what’s going to make you relevant and help you reach people that are no longer attending church because people are not leaving church or just avoiding church all together because it’s “out of date.”

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: With that being said, we have released this time about 465 public videos on this YouTube channel and the single most popular video with more than a quarter of a million views is about stage design. It’s called Three Small Church Stage Design Ideas. It’s almost three years old that video at this point, but it still has a ton of great ideas, different from the ideas we’re going to be sharing it in this video, so make sure if you’re not one of the quarter million that have already watched it, go over and give that video a watch or listen.

We’re going to be talking about a type of stage design that’s very budget friendly in this video, but the most important thing if you’re newer to stage design is to understand that the foundation is always lighting. Your lights are what are going to shape the mood and the dynamic of your stage.

And while stage design, props and fixtures are going to come and go over the years, your lights are going to be a constant and so it’s important to consider that and budget accordingly. Let’s say you’ve got some money for stage design, spend as little as you can on the props and the fixtures and hopefully these ideas will help you in that and invest in lights. Get some of the best lights that you can because you’re going to be using them for a long, long time. Whereas stage design, the trends, they come in and then they leave and we’re going to share some economical ways to double down on these trends so that hopefully you can reinvest, reallocate the funds that you saved there into lighting.

The big idea here is very simple. Basically you start with some wood boards that you can get from a place like Home Depot. The size you’re going to be looking for is one by two by eight. So there are these little thin boards. There are about $5-

Alex Mills: Yeah, they’re super cheap.

Brady Shearer: … per board, one by two by eight. You’re going to want to paint them black and then you’re going to want to combine that kind of sturdy fixture with some LED tape that you can buy from Amazon. You can get a roll for, let’s say, 25 bucks, 30 bucks, something like that. And then you have so much flexibility in what you create from there because basically you have a wooden board, very thin, almost like a sword that lights up with an LED. You got an LED sword …

Alex Mills: Right, and then you give it to your pastor and he uses it while he preaches.

Brady Shearer: Absolute … Waving it around?

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: And what you can do is you can take a board and combine it with another board to create an arrow or you can combine it with three boards and create a rectangle or expand your geometrical mind to create a parallelogram-

Alex Mills: Get some polygons.

Brady Shearer: … or a rhombus. So many ideas going back to early math and the shapes you can create using these fixtures. And there are bunch of different examples of churches that are doing this because it’s economical and it’s very versatile and a flexible way to light your stage.

And what I love about this type of stage design, Alex, is that it’s elegant in its simplicity and that’s what makes it economical. But it doesn’t ever feel like you’ve cheaped out. I look at these church stages and they feel elaborate to me. And then once I learned and invested, sorry, investigated how these stage designs were compiled, you realize, hey, it’s not really that hard to create something like this.

Alex Mills: Sure. If you would’ve seen these images of these stages without knowing how they were constructed, you would think, “Those are like custom shaped and built LEDs. Can’t imagine what their budget is.” No, this is the cheapest smallest piece of wood you can buy from Home Depot. We just kind of tacked them together and put some tape on it.

And also what I love about this is that if you use a certain design for let’s say a year or so, you could carefully take that LED tape off of those pieces of wood and make some different shapes and put that tape back on and have a totally new staged design for next year. So it’s super flexible with how you can reuse it for the future as well.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. When I was doing research on the churches that were using this style of stage design, the best example that I found on YouTube, it goes to big shout out to a channel called Worship Leader Hangouts. They have a video, it’s about 16 minutes long that does a complete deep dive into constructing this type of stage design.

They talk about different LED tape options, how to rig the whole thing, where to pre-drill on the sides of the boards to construct these geometric panels and designs and they have this really cool shiny yarn that they got and they wove in between their rectangular panels to create this really nice like mosaic appearing stage design.

And so we’re going to link to that video. Really encourage you, if you need step by step tutorial on how to create this stage design, that video is by far the best one that I found.

Alex Mills: We’re not those people. We’re not going to be making these things and showing you how to do it.

Brady Shearer: No, no. We can talk about the macro ideas of geometrical fixtures and I can wax poetic to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about. But if you hand me a drill and say, “Get ready to pre-drill,” I’ll say, “What is this?”

Bunch of great examples that we want to highlight as well so you can get visuals of what this might look like. These all come from Church Stage Design Ideas, which is run by a buddy of ours, Jonathan [Mam. 00:05:59] So huge shout out to them as well. They have great write ups for each of these churches that we’ll link in the show notes.

So if you want to learn more, you’re going to see what these designs look like in the video. But if you want to learn more about, okay, what exact fixtures are they using, transformers, those types of things. They’re all linked in the description where we have write-ups on those, well, we don’t, John does in his company.

So this first example comes from The Well. It’s a church in Geneva, Illinois and essentially they’ve kind of created these arrows. This kind of looks like a rhombus, but I might be forgetting what shapes are because I run a church media company at this point. Basically this stage design has upright LED fixtures, but also they’ve created arrows.

Alex Mills: Yeah, Like chevrons in the middle.

Brady Shearer: Chevron. See what am I … I shouldn’t even be talking.

Alex Mills: I’m not even sure chevron’s a shape because it’s just like the top part of an arrow. But anyways, there’s these chevrons in the middle of that kind of direct attention towards the center of the stage. And then like you mentioned, these vertical kind of singular strips that run up the stage that-

Brady Shearer: Let’s call them columns.

Alex Mills: Nice. Columns.

Brady Shearer: That sounds fun.

Alex Mills: Yeah. I love-

Brady Shearer: Chevron from you, column from me.

Alex Mills: Perfect.

Brady Shearer: Next example comes from Palm Valley Church in Mission, Texas. Again, this example comes from Church Stage Design Ideas and it looks like they created this stage design specifically for their youth group and they actually used PVC pipe here instead of the one by two by eight wooden boards. And so you could do something like that as well.

And this is probably the most simple example. Essentially, they have a two strips of LED tape, one red, one blue and each one is on its own PVC pipe, I believe and they’re really close together. So they create their own column and then there’s four columns, each of varying height where they each get taller and taller as you get to the center of the stage. Actually the inverse of that, and they look really cool, but I wanted to highlight this example because it’s so incredibly simple.

Alex Mills: So simple.

Brady Shearer: And they turn off all the lights in the room and they have their projector in the middle and maybe you run some haze and for 500 bucks is basically what this would cost. Maybe less. Maybe you can get it all the way down to like $300. You can create an elegant stage design that requires … Okay, I actually think I could create this one.

Alex Mills: You may be able to.

Brady Shearer: I feel like if I follow the tutorial that Worship Leader Hangout made, I could actually create this, which is saying something because my ability to create physical fixtures is essentially zero, but that’s how simple this can look, this can be to create and it looks so elegant.

You run a bit of haze. I know some churches don’t like to have the lights all the way down which is totally okay. I think even with the lights partially on and a bit of haze and these fixtures, you’re going to get a great stage design. It’s very elegant and it’s a huge win, I think, for your overall communication strategy. A lot of the times the stage design budget is going to be coming from the same budget that the website one is or the social media. It’s all the same.

If you can economically approach your church’s stage design, you can reallocate those funds maybe to more expensive lighting, but maybe to a better website maybe to something like social media, which we think is going to move the needle a lot more forward in accomplishing your church’s mission versus a more expensive church stage design that I just don’t think people care about as much as we think that they do.

Alex Mills: What I love about that one as well is it looks like those columns stand on the ground. And I’ve seen this at churches that I’ve been to before where those will actually be portable. So if you have your youth service on Friday night, you can have those on the stage on Sunday morning and just move them into your youth room on Friday night. Or if you have, you know, some sort of special event, move them to a different area, but they can be super multipurpose as well.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely. The next example, Dunns Creek from San Mateo, Florida, and this example is a little bit more advanced, but what’s great about the church stage design write-up is they kind of give you a behind the scenes on what all of the columns look together. Essentially they created, these longer columns that serve as a foundation and then they kind of stacked on the chevrons on top of them.

So they created this giant fixture that can stand on its own. And again we’ve got these arrows that are pointed outward from the stage or chevrons, whatever you want to call them.

Alex Mills: Who knows what they are. But I know that in the middle of these chevrons is so you can see on the screen they have a graphic that says amplify with this really cool like geometric A, which I think it’s not the name of their church. I think it’s kind of like their vision for that year. Like amplify, this is our word. They actually made, they duplicated that same A with these pieces of wood and this light. So this geometric A right in the middle of your stage that is super consistent with what you’re going for that year. And so it’s very intentional for the theme of the church and like spiritually, this is our word for the year, this is what we’re going for.

And so even the stage design can be used to implement that and reinforce it in September when you’re trying to remember, “What was the the word for that year? Oh that A, it’s amplify.”

Brady Shearer: Final example comes from a church called Praise Church out of Beaumont, Texas. And this is another perfect example of how amazing an LED tape on some wooden fixtures can look, but this is on a bigger stage. They’ve got these fixtures suspended in the air so it looks like these arrows or these chevrons are hanging in the air independent from each other. And then you can see there’s some haze on the stage and there are these big light beams that are highlighting the haze. And again, you got a few really good lights, a little bit of haze, suspended LED tape fixtures. And this looks like one of the best church stage designs I’ve ever seen.

Similar to coroplast, which was the item of choice in our other church stage design video. These LED tapes combined with these wooden boards is an incredibly economical but elegant look for stage design. We’re going to have links to all of these churches on church stage design ideas. So you can see the write-ups and the behind the scenes and all of the different gear that they’re using.

And then of course go check out that video by Worship Leader Hangout that does a 16 minute deep dive into what it took for their church to construct this stage design completely behind the scenes. But if you are thinking about, “Okay, what could be our next church stage design? We don’t want to spend too much money on it.” Maybe we’re a smaller church, we’re just getting into this sort of thing. To me, this is one of the best ways to kind of dip your feet into the water of stage design.

It’s not going to require a huge financial commitment from you or your church upfront. And it’s something you can create yourself. And like you said, you set it up where these are kind of self-standing structures and you can move them around. Maybe in the auditorium, maybe you need them for an event, maybe you need them for a young adult service or a youth service.

And then finally just want to make a disclaimer about using all of these electrical things. You just want to be very careful that you’re following all of the certain codes and contexts that are specific to your region. The codes are different per country. We’re in Canada, it might be different in America, but of course they probably vary from state to state as well.

So you just don’t want to do something that is going to be compromising to the electrical grid at your church and then you blow something up, which is why I would never construct anything like this. Sure, I could talk about hypothetically I could, but realistically probably-

Alex Mills: We’d burn something down.

Brady Shearer: … want to stay away from that because I would surely burn the church to the ground, which is not something that I want to do. Check out Church Stage Design Ideas, check out Worship Leader Hangout. They are leading the way in these areas and we want to highlight them as much as we can, and that’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools. We’ll see you next time.

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