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Church Stage Design Ideas from Backdrops & Lighting to Stage & Decor

Church Stage Design Ideas from Backdrops & Lighting to Stage & Decor

Church Stage Design Ideas from Backdrops & Lighting to Stage & Decor

With the help of technology, church stage design ideas have become more sophisticated in creating a visual atmosphere that can immerse parishioners in the music and your message.  No matter your budget, we’ve got some worship stage design ideas from simple and effective up to some very elaborate and immersive setups to help create a more engaging service.

Church Stage Background Design

In this post we will discuss what makes a good stage design but did you know what a church stage is called in church terms?  Churches have various areas that have church-specific terms.  Instead of being called a stage, it’s called a chancel and is the area where the pastor and musicians work.  Since the chancel is the place where God is worshipped and the main area where parishioners are focused on, it’s here where we want to focus on creating an environment that will set the tone and get parishioners ready to worship.

The first part of the stage design we’ll discuss is the background.   The background is generally one of two types.

The first type is a scenic design that brings parishioners to a location.  This is great way to immerse them in a theme such as a nativity scene during Christmas.  One good way to quickly create a background is with the use of projection.  We carry a range of projectors and screens that can be used for this.

Church Stage Design

The second type of design is atmospheric.  This is a great option when you want to convey a mood.  The best technology for this is again projection but also more importantly lighting.  Lighting is a lot like paint on a wall.   Changing the color or intensity can have a dramatic effect in the look and feel of the space and best of all, it’s a very economical way to do it.

Do you want to create the ultimate background with no limits?  Consider an LED video wall.  Whatever you can think up can easily become a reality.  While this option comes at a cost, it does give you the ability to make unique stage designs that have a dramatic impact.

Stepping away from technology for a moment you can also create a background with materials such as pipe and drape, stage backdrop panels or practically any type of material you can get.  We’ve even seen the use of wood pallet stage design that provided a rustic yet modern look to the chancel.  If you have a temporary need for pipe and drape or truss solutions, you can always look up stage backdrop rentals.  Some stage rental vendors will even handle the setup and strike.

Church Stage Decor Ideas

Church Stage Decor

When it comes to decorating the stage, it seems that each passing year, there’s a drive to outdo last year’s setup. Decorations come in all shapes and sizes.  It could be banners, plants, figurines or even furniture.   The good thing about decorations is that you don’t need to break the bank.  In fact if you get a little creative you can turn fabrics, cardboard and even wood pallets into shapes and figures that make the stage come to life.

4 tips for adding decorations:

  1. Start from the floor up: To create a truly immersive stage, you want to maximize the potential of every inch.  Starting with the floor divide the space into layers as you go up.  Each layer should connect to adjacent layers while also giving you the opportunity to add some unique touches that will really give the space a polished look.
  2. Lighting, lighting, lighting: Lighting is like paint on walls. It’s amazing how simple lighting can take the same stage and make have 2 distinct appearances. Not only that, but lighting can draw attention where you want it.
  3. Get creative: You don’t need a huge budget to create an immersive stage. Creativity goes a long way. Look around your church and you might find pallets, fabrics, etc.  Think about how with a little creativity these could be re-purposed.
  4. Think about the space before the stage: All that space before the stage offers you an opportunity to get parishioners to feel like they are part of the stage by decorating the aisles, maybe the pews or chairs and even the floor.  Transforming these areas can really make for a more engaging experience.

Church Stage Lighting

Church Stage Lighting Design

In business one of the most popular phrases is “location, location, location”.  In a lot of circumstances location can help determine how successful a business may become.  Like location for business, lighting for stages is essential in the effectiveness of a stage.  The great thing about lighting is that it’s one of the most affordable ways to attract attention, highlight what’s important or create a mood.

So how do you light up a church stage?  Lighting can be difficult for beginners to setup properly.  First there’s several types of lighting.

  • Floodlights: These are basically large lights that produce a broad beam of light. Floodlights are a great option to cover large areas and does not require controls.  These are best used to light up backdrops.
  • Wash lights: While these are similar to floodlights they are different in that they cover a larger area with greater control of the beam. Now there are two main types of fixtures wash lights can be used with.  Fresnel lights are used for washing the stage.  The other fixture is Par Cans.  These are an inexpensive option to wash the stage.  The drawback is they are difficult to control and depending on the brand can produce uneven lighting.
  • Cyc lights: are less powerful floodlights. They are used mostly for tinting the stage or giving a faint glow.
  • Spotlights: these are the lights used to highlight and follow a performer. Because performers move about the stage they require manual operation.
  • Beam lights: emit a bright beam of light and are used for creating effects. These lights are strong enough to pass through other lighting.

Now that you know the different types of lights, you’ve got more options to think about and that is colors and textures.  Using colors and textures you can enhance the visuals and atmosphere of the production.  The use of gels can change the color of lights and you can even combine gels to get color variations.

Another important way to impact visuals is through the use of textures.  Using gobos with patterns you can transform the look of a scene.  The use of textures can take a minimal stage and create an immersive stage.

Once you’ve decided on the lights you now have to decide where to put them.  You have 5 areas of the stage where you can position them.

  • Front lighting: This is the main area where you’ll set lights. The front lighting will illuminate the stage.  You’ll want to position these lights mid-level.  The reason for this is to prevent shadows under the eyes and chins of the performers.
  • Backlighting: This is used to separate the background from the performers. Cyc lights are commonly used to achieve this.
  • Downlighting: can help add dimension to a stage. The term downlighting can mean one of two positions.  The lights are either positioned at the feet and cast light upwards or the lights are positioned above the stage and shine down.
  • Side and high side lighting: Beam lights on the sides of the stage can be used to highlight performers. To illuminate the upper torso of performers you can use high side lighting. When using high side lighting you’ll want to adjust the angle of the lights. At 90 degrees the light will be directed towards the ground.  At 0 degrees the light is directed straight across the stage.  To avoid shadows do not place lights between 15 and 45 degrees.

If you plan on using only a few basic lights, you don’t need a light console but if you are looking to make an elaborate display, you’ll want to consider a light console to properly control the lights.  With a lighting console you can control multiple inputs and create routines that you can save.  Light consoles can perform a range of functions such as adjust the brightness, change colors, sliding, fading and much more.

Church Projection Walls & Projectors

Church Stage Design Projectors

While a picture is worth a thousand words, video has the ability to captivate and immerse parishioners like nothing else.  Not only that, video allows the church to share video clips, create original content that speaks to today’s congregation.  Video equipment available today allows churches to add video at practically any price point.  The bigger question is what video technology should you invest in.  Besides large LED screens which are great for hanging on side walls of the nave to give parishioners a better view of the chancel, the other two main choices for the stage are projectors and LED video walls.  While both technologies have their application, there’s many aspects to consider when determining which option is best suited for your church. Here’s a few things to consider about each.

One of the biggest factors in deciding between the two options is understanding your worship space.

  • Do you have the space for a video wall? Video walls are heavy and require mounting.  This means you need some extra space in the back and will have to incorporate rigging in your budget.  On the other hand, the use of laser projectors and retractable projection walls can preserve limited space on the stage.
  • Does your space have a lot of ambient light? If so, video walls offer a much brighter image that can overcome even the brightest of rooms.
  • How far away is the seating? If the first seats are 15’ away or less, projectors would be a great option as they will provide a more natural image.  For video walls the distance is very important in determining the type of panels to use.  LED panels are offered in different pixel pitches and the big factor in determining the pixel pitch is the viewing distance.

The viewing distance is how far an average person needs to be to see an image on an LED wall without seeing the spaces between the LEDs. This is a minimum distance, not an optimum. As long as someone is further away than the recommended viewing distance, the LED wall will look great.  Also keep in mind that pixel pitch has a direct impact on price.  The smaller the pixel pitch, the higher the cost.  Generally speaking if your audience will be 18 feet away, you will have a wide array of pixel pitch options to choose from.  At 10 feet and under your options will narrow.

  • Other factors to consider. Laser projectors typically offer 20,000 hours of use which equates to roughly 12.5 years if used for 8 hours a day however most churches won’t run their projectors for 8 hours every day so the useful life is typically longer.  LED video walls have a lifespan of 15 years but cost more upfront.

Another notable factor is that a projector will require less power to operate compared to a video wall.

Ultimately there is no one right answer.  The choice between projector and video wall will be determined by which one best fits your situation.  One thing to consider is that if your stage requires multiple projectors, blending, odd screen sizes and the space has a lot of ambient light, a video wall might be the best option.

Small Church Stage Design

Small stages don’t mean you can’t create an immersive experience.  Sometimes less is more and in fact sleek and simple are a great way to make a small stage look bigger than it is.  One thing to note is with a small stage you do not want to clutter it with too many elements.  That will only make it look smaller.  Two great ways to give you the best bang for your buck and allow you a lot of flexibility would be the use of projection and lighting.  With these two technologies there’s a lot you can do to change the mood and feel of the stage.

Modern Church Stage Design

Church Stage Modern Decor Design

In an effort to modernize worship service, many churches are looking for more modern stage designs.  The biggest trend right now is also the least expensive.  The use of wooden panels or repurposed pallet wood.  The look and texture really add a modern feel to the stage.  Combine that with some LED screens that allow for some creative content to be displayed.  With most LED screens you can position these in either portrait or landscape giving you further options.

Simple Church Stage Design

If you are really stretched for budget you can still create a stunning church stage.  Some of the most cost-effective ways would be through the use of fabrics and lighting.  Think about fabric strips coming down from the ceiling with inexpensive lights on them.  These two things alone can make a church stage come alive and capture the attention of the congregation.

Pulpit Stage design

Most church pulpits are comprised of either a simple wooden or truss podium.  HTR is one of the first companies to carry the newest digital podiums for rent and purchase.  These digital podiums offer a wide array of options to elevate what the speaker is saying.  Not only that, but with built-in technology and on wheels, these digital podiums make setup a breeze.

Easter Church Stage Design

Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead after he was crucified and buried.  This is typically the most attended Sunday church service of the year. There have been some churches that created elaborate set design of structures where Jesus was buried to really give viewers the feeling of being there.  Through the use of projection, churches can achieve the similar effects by projecting on the backdrop.  Themes could include breaking free similar to a bird soaring high or other similar elements.

Christmas Church Stage Design

Church Christmas Stage Design

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Some design ideas for Christmas include:

  • Tress and snowflakes. These can even be projected
  • Hanging LED light curtains
  • Use LED displays to add a modern touch with messages and imagery
  • Giant ornaments that can be made out of just about anything and even lighted up

There’s a lot of options for decorating and most are very inexpensive and can be made from re-purposed elements you already have.

Church Stage Design Software

With all the variables involved in getting your stage design right, it’s important to have solid plan.  While you can use a piece of paper and pencil you should consider looking into using stage design software.   Some of the software available is free for general use and others are reasonably priced.  The great thing about using this software is that once you recreate your stage in the software it’s easy to move elements around and get a good idea of what it will look like before you invest.


This article just scratches the surface on what is involved in stage design and as you might have guessed there is no one size fits all solution.  Each stage is unique and has its’ own unique needs.  Today’s technology can help transform the stage and create an atmosphere that really gets the congregation ready to worship.  While the task might be daunting, HTR can help you navigate through the technical jargon and find the best products to fit your need and budget.

As some needs are seasonal HTR is your partner for short-term rental needs on everything you need for your next production.  Ready to start designing your next production?  Give us a call today at 888-526-5667 or click the link below for a free consultation.