Worshipful Atmospheres

Throughout the years there has been plenty of talk about this whole atmosphere thing when it comes to church. Some love dim lighting during worship, others hate it, and others wonder what the point of it is at all. “Are we trying to trick people into worshipping by using mood lighting?” they ask. “This is all about Jesus, who cares about the lighting?”

A valid question—and a valid point.

This has been a question I’ve struggled with for a long time. See, I’ve always been all for the mood lighting and incorporating the arts and technology into our services—it doesn’t bother me. But I never really knew how to fully answer that ultimate Jesus question that trumps every conversation.

The point is Jesus. Why do we use mood lighting?

Because we’re setting an atmosphere. Is mood lighting a must-have? No, it’s not. But I actually believe when applied correctly, it can help in worship.

I came to this realization a few months ago. One day on my way to work, I stopped by Lowes and bought two gallons of paint, and two new lights. Up until this point my office had plain white walls and bright fluorescent lighting. It was awful. I hated my office. It was ugly and didn’t create an atmosphere in which I cared much to concentrate or do any significant amount of work in.

And so I took a paintbrush and by the end of the day, my office looked like this:

You’ll notice it’s dim in my office. The only light I have comes from  a desk lamp, a floor lamp, and a WoodWick candle that constantly crackles as it burns. Do I need that ambient noise? No. But because of everything in my office, I have created an atmosphere to help me quickly and pleasantly get the work done that I need to get done. There’s no need to be ashamed of it.

You have plenty of places where you’ve set your own atmosphere. Just think of your house. You may not have used mood lighting, but you painted the walls a certain color and chose the appropriate carpeting to match.

We are atmospheric people. Everywhere we go we set an atmosphere—heck, we even bring an atmosphere with us wherever we go! What we wear, how we act, our facial expression, and everything else goes to create an atmosphere in a place. Some Sundays at our churches everyone creates a happy, laughing, celebratory atmosphere. Other times it appears as though no one slept the day before and it’s quiet and no one laughs at the jokes the preacher tries to make.

We create atmospheres. It’s not a bad thing.

Sure, atmospheres can definitely be overdone. After all, a strobe light may not belong in your church anymore than it does in your living room. In the end it is all ultimately about Jesus. The atmosphere you set in a church worship service should point towards Him.

And if it really bothers you that much, just keep your eyes closed during worship. ;)


4 thoughts on “Worshipful Atmospheres

  1. I like the “mood lighting” as you called it as well. I dont so much feel as though the lower lights are necessarily to set the mood, but it helps people to feel more at ease. People are more inclined to get out of their own way and get into worship when they feel “hidden” from the other people around them. In regards to the “eyes closed” remark…LOVE IT. Closed eyes has is very dimly lit! haha. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yeah, it definitely has that effect as well. Though at the same time when I worship in my office, I still like to dim the lights for that kind of atmosphere even though I’m alone. It seems to get my mind ready for something a bit more meditative or something.

    Great thoughts—thanks for commenting!

  3. I agree with that. Whenever I want to have a real Holy Ghost prayer session, I have to dim the lights turn on my favorite worship playlist and stand up. For whatever reason when I go to God about something I have to be standing.

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