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How to Create Compelling Environments

How to create a compelling worship environment on a minimal budget.

Not every ministry has the benefit of a permanent space, a professional lighting grid or a state of the art projection system. Many smaller worship gatherings have substantially fewer resources. However, it is still possible to create a compelling worship environment on a minimal budget.

Music

Although it seems simple, music can help set the tone for a worship gathering right from the beginning. Few mediums can evoke an emotional response like music. Both pre-service and post-service music selection help create a desired mood; therefore when choosing music, it helps to think in terms of a continuous soundtrack for your service rather than individual songs. Throughout the gathering, pick music that matches the emotional tempo. For pre-service music, consider something
more ambient that will engender an attitude of reverence. Instrumental bands such as Sigur Rós and Mogwai can put people in an introspective and prayerful mindset. After the service, more upbeat tunes can generate an energetic vibe that gets people talking and socializing. Try some high-energy, positive rock like The Killers or Bloc Party.

Visuals

Worship should be a multisensory experience. There’s a reason the ancient church used so much iconography. It gives people a visual focal point during a worship gathering. A simple, timed PowerPoint slideshow cycling through artistic images can be incredibly powerful when used as the backdrop to a worship experience. For a bit more participatory feel, provide canvases and paints around the meeting space and invite people to create art as an act of worship. You may be surprised at the profundity of what people create and how well it expresses the theme of the service.

Lighting is also an important visual aspect. As many twentysomething worship gatherings don’t have the benefit of their own unshared space, the options for permanent lighting installation may be limited. However, there are plenty of cheap, portable solutions to this problem. Candles are always an excellent option. Hanging up strands of white Christmas lights adds to the ambiance, and they are easy to take down afterward. To add some color, you can purchase plug-in floodlights from a hardware store and replace the bulbs with colored bulbs. For a good color mix, make sure you purchase red, green, blue and yellow lights.

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Space

Create spaces for people to be free in worship. Open areas throughout the meeting area invite people to spend time in reflection and contemplation. A few throw pillows scattered around enhance this. Low tables can be used to create altar space throughout the room. In order to broaden the sensory experience of worship, place burning incense on the tables. Or place communion elements on the tables and invite people to receive communion as they feel led. Another idea is to create “stations” around the meeting space to provide different forms of worship expression. The stations could contain something as simple as a notebook and pens to offer people the opportunity to write out prayer requests.

Further Resources
Check out www.alternativeworship.org and www.freshworship.org for more tips on creating compelling worship environments.

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