I heard lighting described recently as “music for the eyes…”

I’ve worked in weekend services for decades, and one of the most commonly criticized areas is lighting – top-notch professional event-style lighting is referred to by some as “putting on a show,” with strongly negative connotations. However, I’d argue that’s an overly simplistic approach – here’s why…

 Thinking back to my Educational Psychology coursework, there are three main ways in which people learn and absorb information – seeing, hearing, and doing. The majority of people are “visual learners,” in that the things that stick with them are often what they see. If the majority of people learn visually, seeing is important, and lighting is a big part of that.

On the practical side, lighting does a couple of important things:

1. It illuminates, making it possible to see in the first place, and;

2. It directs, giving visual prompts regarding where to focus your attention.

However, beyond that, lighting creates a “vibe.” It helps to underscore the emotional impact of any given moment – an army of moving lights may be the perfect underscore for a celebratory moment, while a single spotlight may be just right for an intimate and moving worship song. 

Ultimately, “either-or” thinking doesn’t work when discussing lighting – that’s like saying only loud music vs soft music is appropriate (or fast music vs slow music). Choose the right lighting for the right moment…  

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