All posts tagged budget

How To Create Big Stages With Small Budgets


We’ve all seen them. The sets and stages at larger churches with bigger budgets that make your mouth drop. You get super excited about creating something similar on your stage, only to find out that the design you’re trying to recreate costs more than your entire annual production budget. It’s easy to give up any hope of having an amazing stage design when you have a small budget. But, with the right materials and a little creativity, you can make a stellar stage design without breaking the bank.

In this post, we’ll cover a number of low-cost materials to create stage designs with, but first, there are a few things you need to consider when building your set.

Stage Designs Are 75% Lighting

There’s only so much that a stage design can do on its own. Lighting is what changes a plain stage into a dynamic environment, and it can really control mood of your room. Stage designs will come and go, but chances are, you’ll be using whatever lights you have until they die. If you have the option, set aside a portion of your set budget to buy at least 1-2 new lighting fixtures. By the time you’ve gone through 4-5 stage designs, you will have built up a nice lighting rig.

Angles = Shadows = Depth

One of the easiest ways to give your stage a dynamic feel is to add depth.  Flat designs can easily become boring, but depth can make for some very cool shadows on your set, which will give you a wide array of options when designing your lighting cues each week.

Your Set Won’t Always Have “Cool” Lighting

It’s easy to make a set look good with lights that are constantly changing color and intensity, but your set needs to look good when the lights aren’t in motion. Also, if your room is used for more than just weekend worship, you need to make sure your set looks good without being lit at all.


With those things in mind, let’s look at some of my favorite building materials for constructing stage designs, along with some real-world examples for inspiration.

PVC Pipe

PVC Pipe - Church Stage DesignPVC pipe comes in a variety of lengths and diameters, and since it’s commonplace in every household, it’s quite cheap. At about $5 for a 10ft section, your money will go a long way towards creating some great designs using PVC. Pro tip: Use acetone to wipe away the manufacturer-printed information on the side of each piece of pipe.  Leaving the text on will just be a distraction.  (Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3)


Coroplast - Church Stage DesignPossibly the strongest contender on the list due to its sheer flexibility (both literally and figuratively), this corrugated plastic is an excellent building block for any stage design. Coroplast can maintain its lightweight, yet sturdy, form in just about any shape, which means your options are virtually unlimited when building. In addition to opaque white, coroplast can also be found in translucent varieties, which will give you the option of lighting it from behind to create some stunning effects on your stage.  Again, keep in mind that lighting is what will really create great looks with a coroplast set, not the material itself.

The best place to find low-cost coroplast sheets is your local sign shop.  Any shop that prints yard signs & the like will most likely have 4′x8′ sheets of coroplast on hand.  Prices vary from place to place, but a 4′x8′ sheet will usually run around $12-$20. You can also pick up sheets at some home improvement stores such as Home Depot.  (Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3  •  Example 4)

Window Screen

Window Screen - Church Stage DesignLike PVC, window screen is widely available at any home improvement store and it comes very cheap. Crinkling up window screen can create some serious shadows, which can add depth and texture to an otherwise boring set. Make sure to wear heavy duty gloves when working with this material though; the sharp edges of a roll of screen can shred your hands if you aren’t careful.  (Example 1)

Wood Pallets

Wood Pallets - Church Stage DesignWood is yet another solid choice for set building.  Lumber is already pretty cheap, but often times you can find pallets for free from local warehouses and storage facilities. Pallet wood is usually rustic and textured, which can make for some very organic set pieces. A word of advice: A freestanding pallet doesn’t look that great as a set piece.  Strip the pallet wood apart and create something amazing: a textured wall, a drum riser, or a prop piece for your set, for example.

(Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3  •  Example 4)

MIO Foldscapes

Mio - Church Stage DesignMio is a company that creates environmentally-friendly architectural pieces for use in the office environment (ceiling tiles, room partitions, and the like). Luckily, their materials also can make for some killer sets! Prices vary from product to product, but their Foldscapes ceiling tiles, which make for some very cool lighting effects, are $98 for a box of 24 2′x2′ tiles.  (Example 1  •  Example 2)


Do you have any other low-cost set materials you love to build with? Post your suggestions in the comments below or send us a tweet to @CreativePastor!

Photos used with permission from

Free Motion of the Month – August ’14

Free Motion of the Month

This month, we’ve partnered with the awesome Church Motion Graphics to bring you a custom motion that’s going to look great in your services. I love this background because it stands out from a lot of the other motions that I’ve seen lately and can work in a number of environments.

This freebie is only available for the month of August 2014.
This download includes HD, SD, and still versions.
This motion is free to download, but please do not redistribute. (Please link back to this page.)

To get this free motion, simply subscribe to receive our weekly email newsletter. You’ll receive your download link via email within the hour.

Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter


Free Motion of the Month – July ’14

Free Motion of the Month - July '14

This month, we’ve partnered with our friends over at Playback Media and they’re hooking you up with an awesome motion that is going to look great in your services. Be sure to check out their memberships for more motions like these at an affordable price!

This freebie is only available for the month of July 2014.
This download includes HD, SD, and still versions.
This motion is free to download, but please do not redistribute. (Please link back to this page.)

To get this free motion, simply subscribe to receive our weekly email newsletter. You’ll receive your download link via email within the hour.


Free Motion of the Month – June ’14


This month, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Igniter Media and they’re hooking you up with an awesome motion that is going to look killer in your services. I first saw this motion in a live worship experience and it immediately stood out to me. I really love how it blends modern shapes with nature. Be sure to check out their website for more motions, stills, and mini-movies.

This freebie is only available for the month of June 2014.
This download includes HD, SD, and still versions.
This motion is free to download, but please do not redistribute. (Please link back to this page.)

To get this free motion, simply subscribe to receive our weekly email newsletter. You’ll receive your download link via email within the hour.

Subscribe Via Email

My “Secret Sauce” For Great Environments


As we work in the creative areas of ministry, we can get so wrapped up behind our computers that we ignore the atmosphere that we’re setting for our congregation. For both Sunday services and events throughout the week, environment plays a huge part in connecting with people. With some intentionality, you can create a space that takes guests’ minds off of the outside world, promotes focus on what’s important, and leaves them excited for what’s next. Here are a few secret tips that can make all the difference when creating engaging environments for your ministry:

1. Create Critical Mass

pipe-and-drapeNo environment screams boring louder than a half-empty room. If you want to create a “something big is happening here” buzz, allow just enough space in your room for a slightly crowded feel. The term for this has been coined as critical mass as your space always has just the right amount of crowd for a successful event. “Standing room only” is always a better experience than feeling like nobody else showed up. A great tool for creating small spaces in larger venues is simple pipe and drape.

2. Big or Small – Never Medium

For events, services, and everything in between, you should always avoid medium. When you go big, you pull out all the stops. The music is loud, you’re prepared for a large crowd, and you focus on the lights-camera-action side of things. Big communicates excitement. When you go small, you scale back the production to a minimum. The music is acoustic, you focus on one-on-one relationships, and scrap as much technology as possible. Small communicates intimacy. People love both big and small environments because they seem intentional. But, medium leaves people wondering if you’ve properly planned, are capable of doing either correctly, and generally communicates mediocrity.

3. Draw Eyes Away From Imperfections

Piedmont Chapel - Interest Hangout EventEven in the nicest spaces, there will always be spots that would go better unseen. Since it’s often outside of your budget to correct every imperfection, you can go a lot further by distracting from them. For example, we recently hosted a series of social events in a high school library. (You read that correctly.) Half of the room was filled with book cases that we were unable to cover. To draw eyes away from these, we intentionally placed a lot of eye-catching items within just enough distance to steal their show. This is also really easy to accomplish by projecting visually-compelling imagery on your screens or by strategically positioning stage lighting.

4. Avoid Awkward Silence

Whether big or small, every environment benefits from at least some light background music. This one simple step has the power to make or break your guest experience. For Sunday morning services, make sure you’re ready to go for pre and post service with a great playlist. (Here are some great playlists from Brady Shearer for Sundays.) I also recommend having music in your lobby, for outreach events, during the social times of your small groups, and in any other space filled with silence. (Here is a fun playlist we use for social gatherings at our church.)

5. Define Your Best Case Scenario For Guests

Elevation Church LobbyStart with the end in mind by compiling a list of what you want guests to walk away with from your environment. You may decide you want people to leave feeling excited, connected to new friends, and further committed to your church. To accomplish these goals, your environment might include bright colors and fun music to generate excitement. You could serve coffee and other refreshments that bring people together and strategically place outgoing hosts to spark conversations. Your environment might include booths that showcase photos or videos of what it looks like to get further involved and allow guests to sign up. By starting with the end in mind, you’re able to build your environment to foster those results.

Do you have any other tips that you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!