After looking around the WTR site a bit, I haven't seen much talk about a very important part of the worship experience:  Stage Design.   I have found helpful websites like Church Stage Design Ideas, but they don't necessarily provide a full how-to when it comes to the process of changing church from a minimalistic look to a sermon-themed, elaborate look.  I know the design options seen in the above site and similar churches aren't the cookie-cutter method for all to follow, however, it's a great way to change things up and create a great atmosphere for worship.  But sometimes, finding information, funds, time, man (and woman) power, etc. can be hard to come by.  So for those of you out there that deal with this on a regular basis, is there a place to go, resource to obtain or way to start learning many great ideas from the ground up while saving on the church's wallet?  What tips do you have?  Any other websites you know of that can assist with these things?  Thank you in advance for your responses!

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Well, if I disagreed with you, I might say you were harsh and blunt. But to me, so many of these new and fancy things are begging to be demolished a year later. I agree, basic and simple.  

 

I do prefer a classic European setting. Large old edifices in London and Montreal come to mind. For whatever reason, they never get old to me.

I agree, I'm being harsh and blunt.  But I've sat in too many committee meetings where stage design got too much attention, which netted a church a interesting looking but useless stage.  Volunteers, even some of my consultant friends come to meetings with their "facts" on what makes a great stage in a church which typically nets something that is rigid and very inflexible for how the church ACTUALLY uses said stage.

 

Stages tend to be a lot of money poorly spent.  

 

My rules are simple for good stage design: make it as big as you can, perfectly flat, the only permanent features should be the floor, access, side walls (if you have them) and the back wall, and some form of a rectangle.   

 

The worst case scenario is that you'll piss off whoever thinks they have to have a permanent presence on the stage.  However, you'll have something that is useful for virtually anything you'll try to use... and you'll avoid those pesky chunks of stage that can't be used for anything but the one thing that it was intended for.  Example: how much space is dedicated to choirs that don't exist anymore?  Or aren't as big as they once were?  Too much if you ask me.

One day choirs, and the joy of singing together, will be rediscovered.
But in this case, I agree about stage designs. Keep it simple and useful for years to come.

Simple, and with lots of handy pots with both kinds of plugs, and lots and lots of electrical outlets!

Man was not made for the platform, but the platform was made for man.

Ha ha ha. That was a good one.

Ha!  Great one. 

 

I'd suggest keeping the under parts accessible too.  You don't have to have a huge space under there, but keep it accessible.  

When I was a child, I thought as a child, and loved froufrou.  I loved to make letters with curlicues and scrolls beneath them; and thrilled to see a manuscipt of Bach, because he approached writing with the same childlike attitude, all full of fancy abandon and joy.  I loved the tall buildings in Chicago that had gargoyles and crenellations and windows with borders.  I loved Union Station, a veritable cathedral for railroads with echoing marble floors and grave deep-wood pews for the faithful to wait for their loved ones.  But in the 50's there was no such thing as "retro."  Grave, authoritative-sounding men with European accents or attitudes told me that Form Follows Function, that letters are better without serifs, that a single gigantic bow would do more for a woman than a thousand ruffles.  People covered their fine hardwood floors, with their amazing array of wood-grains, for monochromatic shag carpet.  Simple, cheap, colorful and comfortable (our home had white shag in the bedrooms and bright orange in the living room).   So we traded useless froufrou for joyless utilitarianism. 

We spend years trying to make a guitar sound good -- what vanity!  A keyboard is so much simpler -- a mechanical guitar, tone coming from the mere press of a finger.  Why learn that awkward, complicated instrument with its complex arrangement of strings, and fussy tuning pegs? 

Why?  Because people love the sound of a real guitar played by a real person, and they love it played with a degree of complexity that gets the blood flowing and stirs the imagination.  If the imagination is not stirred, it settles and separates into goo and water.

So what are you saying?

Simplicity has its value; but art loves to slip through the fences of practicality to make something beautiful that can be made no other way.

In the case of the guitar:  Guitars are impractical.  Guitars are incredibly difficult instruments to play melody, but they're quite good for the simple chord, and respond well to the emotions of a player, so most people use them for pleasant backup to a melody.  But there are varying kinds of glory, just as one star has its kind of glory, and another star a different sort.  One player, willing to tackle the monstrous problems in playing a melody, or perhaps a fantasy of musical ideas, on a guitar, becomes a stellar musician.  He plays and shares this glory with the world, and it opens a window to the glory of God.  We hear -- and understand -- when he plays that God made us something better than just smart animals who figured out how to make a pretty sound.

That's about as close as I can get to understanding what I was saying.  For some of us musicians, English is a second language.

 

The problem is, once one man's art is permanently installed - another's is rejected.  Stage art should be minimal at best because stages don't function well for displays of art. If you MUST put art on stage (which, if you think you must, you're really only inflating your own opinions on good art), keep simple and portable.

In general, I am in favor of church design which is flexible and has lots of portable stuff, including movable chairs.  At this moment, my shins are still remembering getting barked as Pastor and I unbolted and removed the 24 choir seats in blocks of six at a time, which had to be done every time there was a wedding.

My former church had an area at the corner for painting during worship time.  They only stayed up for that service, as colorful mini-sermons or mini-prophecies (or simply personal responses to the worship time and music, as one says "amen!", only visually).  Sometimes the artist would give them away, some of them would be displayed later in the halls; it all depended.

Your principle of Art (one's permanently installed, another's, ergo, is rejected) is really strong.  That's also what happens with music (Rock is permanently installed in many venues, displacing former styles and hymnody).

 

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