Finding Your Lighting Console: Where to Start

Each church is different, and has different needs as it relates to lighting. Fortunately, the market has responded with a variety of consoles for each unique situation.

Finding Your Lighting Console: Where to Start
For most churches, while we may aspire to have the full-size MA Lighting grandMA2 (shown here being used at the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama) or High End Systems Hog 4 console, what’s important is to have a baseline of the things included allowing for effective and efficient lighting operations.

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If you’ve ever been car shopping, you know how truly overwhelming the experience can be. Do you go with the luxury model with eight cup holders, or the fuel-efficient model with two? The fact is that this experience isn’t totally dissimilar from shopping for a lighting console. With more manufacturers and models on the market now than ever before, the process can be time consuming, confusing, and flat out overwhelming.

If you simply need to turn your dimmers or LEDs up and down, begin by investigating basic 2-scene consoles.

Where does a church begin?

Establish the Basics

From the get-go, you can probably rule out a lot of the consoles on the market. For most churches, while we may aspire to have the full-size MA Lighting grandMA2 or High End Systems Hog 4 console, what’s important is, as we filter through the full scope of available consoles, is to have a baseline of the things included allowing for effective and efficient lighting operations.

To this end, it would be helpful to look at the who, what, where, and how of lighting consoles. (Note that “why” is also an important consideration in lighting, but should be established before you get to the console purchasing stage.)

Who? Who is going to be operating the console? Will it be a full-time staff member or an eager volunteer who is happy to help, but needs things as simple as possible? Many consoles have steep learning curves, and simply can’t be learned quickly in an hour or two each week.

What? What will you be doing with the console? How many fixtures do you have? A 24-channel dimmer pack requires a vastly different (and cheaper) console than a bunch of LEDs, and especially a stage full of automated fixtures. How many cues or looks will you have in a service? This is probably the biggest determining factor in which console you end up with.

Where? What facility will this be used in? Consider that you may have multiple rooms that require lighting consoles. Scalability is important to consider — it makes it much easier when your student volunteer can step up to your main worship room and not skip a beat. Size and portability is also a factor in answering “where?”

How? How do your worship services flow? Are they programmed to the minute with click tracks and MIDI signals? Or are they open-ended and require freedom in making changes on the fly? Some consoles are more programming-driven, while others give you more freedom for “punt pages” and ease of changing cues.


More About Greg Saffles
Greg Saffles is the Creative Director at Shoreline Church in Knoxville, Tenn. He has a passion for using environments in the local church to display the glory of God. Previous to Shoreline, he spent four years as lighting designer at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. During this time, he discovered a passion for using production to bring glory to God, the use of technology within the church, and for the creative process as a whole.
Get in Touch: [email protected]    More by Greg Saffles

Latest Resource

Lighting Consoles Guide: Shedding Light On Choices
Learn about a half-dozen options that are particularly scalable, beginning with personal computer operability, all the way up to multiuniverse, full-size lighting consoles.


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