Psychology of Lighting for Worship Services

Lighting your worship service is, first and foremost, a way to ensure that the congregation can see the service properly. However, professional lighting technicians know that lighting can do far more than just illuminate. It affects the entire mood of the crowd, creating a more immersive worship experience.

If you want to lead your congregation down a path of deeper, more intense worship, lighting is an important tool at your disposal. Let’s dive into some key points to consider.


The color of your lighting is one of the easiest ways to infuse your lighting with a specific type of energy or mood. Basic color psychology is far more ingrained in our subconscious than we realize. For example, many church buildings are white, because white communicates a sense of purity and holiness. Based on this same concept, white is used frequently in worship service lighting.

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Warm colors, like red and yellow, indicate passion, excitement, energy, and intensity. Red in particular is a very powerful color in lighting; it can be used to create a sense of love and devotion, or a sense of anger and bloodshed. A combination of the two colors, a warm amber, is a more intimate color that tones down red’s harshness.

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Cool colors, like blue and certain greens, are far easier to control. Blue lighting almost always creates a sense of calm and peace. The darker you go with blue, the more it moves away from peace and into a feeling of mystery and night. Green often makes people think of life and growth.

For an even more dramatic use of this color, you could use a soft amber lighting as your base color, only allowing pure white to shine through at the climax of your worship service. This gives the feeling of having reached a pinnacle.


The intensity of your lighting also helps set a certain mood, but it’s important to understand how to keep the intensity from leaning too far one way or the other.

In general, there are a few types of lighting intensity:

an energizing brightness,

a pleasant middle ground,

and relaxing low-light.

However, consider how each could become a negative emotion very quickly. You may have wanted a bright spot light to convey a sense of energy in one place on the stage, but instead you’ve created what looks like a police search light. This creates a sense of anxiety and distress.

You might think a pleasant middle ground lighting is the best compromise, and in many cases it is. But it can also become boring and flat; if there is no difference between the level of lighting during the worship service, and the level during the sermon, you’ve lost an important element of depth. Think about going to a movie theater. Our brains are hardwired to begin expecting something exciting when the lighting changes.

Finally, a low light is often used to create a sense of intimacy. This is a great thing for leading a congregation into a closer moment with the Holy Spirit; however, take it too low, and you could induce a nap!

Bringing It Together

So how do you combine the psychology behind color and intensity to create the best lighting for your worship service?

Try to limit how many colors and intensity combinations you use. A single focal color that sets the right mood overall, along with two or three accent colors, is more than enough to entertain without overwhelming the senses.

Link changes in intensity to specific cues within the music or lyrics in order to keep it relevant to the moment. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create lighting that is just as thoughtful as the rest of the worship service.


Lighting, Color Theory, and Emotion

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