Welcome to this 3-part series on Producing Worship. This series is about casting vision for what production can and should be in worship.
In part one we will look at the purpose of production. In part two we’ll study the art of producing worship. And in part three we’ll see how production enhances the worship experience.
Part 1: The Purpose of Production
What is production? Production is the use of technology for a live event. This includes everything from amplified audio, to lighting design, to cameras and screens. You see production everywhere: at concerts, conferences, festivals and every other live event. Production exists so people can see and hear even when surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other people.
In a worship service, production meets these same demands, but there’s more going on than helping people see and hear what’s happening. The true purpose of production is enabling others to worship.
The purpose of production is enabling others to worship.
Enabling others to worship
We use technology to help others worship. Of course there are needs that have to be met – we need audio to help us hear the preacher and screens so we can see no matter where we sit. But when you look past the basic function of technology, you see how technology can engage people in a deeper expression of worship.
Each role on the production team plays a crucial part in leading worship for others.
Audio helps us hear the Gospel
Audio makes it possible for others to worship. How could the worship team effectively lead the congregation if they can’t hear themselves and are playing over top of each other? How would those who are hard of hearing be able to hear the pastor if he or she didn’t have a mic? Audio is the backbone of production and makes it possible for others to worship.
Audio helps us sing and participate in worship. Good audio helps us hear the leader so we can sing along with the worship team and congregation. Excellent mixes draw us into worship as we hear, feel and sing our praises to God.
Screens give us new ways to engage in worship
We’re not limited to hearing, we see God’s truth projected in front of us. As we sing and look at the lyrics, the words we read shape our theology and beliefs. Liturgy on screen allows us to interact as we read together. Graphics and images projected help focus our hearts and minds on God’s creation and His people.
Screens create freedom in worship. As we use screens, our bodies are freed to engage through clapping, singing, kneeling or lifting our hands. Screens also let us see and interact with others who worship with us, instead looking down at a hymnal or bulletin.
Screens are more than technological devices, they’re canvases for proclaiming God’s glory.
Lighting focuses our eyes on worship
As we see truth displayed on screen, we use light to create scenes which fix our eyes on worship. Lighting illuminates what matters most – the preaching of God’s Word, stories of God’s work in our world, lives changing through baptism, and the communion table where we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Lighting is a visual metaphor, pointing back to Creation when God said “let there be light.” Lighting Designers who paint with light are recreating the creation account as beings made in God’s image, reflecting His glory back to Him. Lights in worship are not merely technical tools, they’re tools for spiritual formation.
Cameras draw our attention to the work of God
Cameras tell the stories of God’s work. We use cameras to capture stories and moments from our fellow believers and share them during the worship service. Likewise, cameras capture precious moments in worship like the child being baptized or the testimony of renewal in someone’s life. Cameras capture these moments for us to rejoice in God and share it with others.
Cameras are not simply neat gadgets, they are instruments designed to tell the story of God’s work in our world.
Live streaming creates unity in worship
Live streaming invites others into worship. Our digital culture makes it possible to reach far beyond the walls of our church, and we must steward it well. We don’t live stream so people can stay home and sleep in, we live stream so our communities can worship together. Live streaming creates unity between those who worship in service and those who can’t be physically present with us.
Live streaming is more than a tool of convenience, its a tool for connecting people in worship.
Through this post I hope you’ve seen how production is not just about using flashy technology, but about enabling and equipping others to worship. Next time you’re at a worship service and see the soundboard, a lighting fixture, an LED wall or a camera, instead of thinking this is a cool piece of gear think, this is a tool for spiritual formation, a device to proclaim God’s glory.
Production is about worship. To have excellent production, you need a team of skilled technical artists to bring excellence, consistency and even beauty to the worship service. We’ll look at this in part 2: the art of producing worship.