Beyond Stage Design


I run a website called It gets around 400,000 views/month. That number continually surprises me, knowing there are that many people around the world doing stage design at their church.


People ask me all the time if I post every stage design that is submitted through the site. I’m fairly liberal, so I post most of them. Mainly, I believe there’s something you can learn from everyone’s attempt at design. Everyone has unique ideas and applications. And if you look past your preferences or biases, I believe you can get inspired by almost anything.

Everyone has unique ideas & applications, you can always learn from other’s attempt at design. @jonathanmalm Click To Tweet

But the truth is, there are some designs that are just more beautiful than others. And it’s not even necessarily because of budget. Some designers can spend $50 and make an incredible stage design, while others spend $1000 and…well…


So what sets the two different stage designs apart?

Some of it is based on pure talent. But I believe a bigger element is the philosophy behind why these two designers do stage designs. There are a few principles that make some designs more appealing than others.

And that’s why I wrote the book, Set the Stage. I wanted to share with the stage design community what I’ve noticed between all 1,500+ stage designs that I’ve posted to the site.


To be honest, I’ve noticed the same thing in churches…beyond just stage design. Often, there are a few key principles that effective churches use that others seem to miss. Most churches go to conferences to learn from other churches what their “special sauce” is. And the conferences go into depth teaching stage design, audio mixing, marketing, etc.


But a lot of that isn’t even that necessary to growing a large and thriving church. I’d say it can all be summed up by this:

  • Understanding who God has made you to be as a church.
  • Understanding who God has called you to reach as a church.
  • Understanding what those people need from your church.
  • Delivering what those people need in a way that’s both consistent with the people you’re reaching and your unique identity as a church.


That manifests itself in thousands of different ways, just like the philosophy of good stage design manifests itself in thousands of different designs.

Each of us are called to be unique.


Each church is called to do something different. But when we approach from the right philosophy, we can do that and still be effective.


I hope you pick up a copy of Set the Stage, but more than that I pray your church learns to be effective. No matter how you go about it, I believe you can reach people with the love of Christ. God’s looking for people to use. The harvest is ready. We just need to be ready to be used effectively.

About the Author_02

Author Photo - Jonathan Malm

Creative Entrepreneur / Writer
San Antonio, TX

Jonathan is a creative entrepreneur and writer. He is the author of Created for More a devotional for creatives and Unwelcome —a book helping churches become more welcoming. Jonathan is also the creator of Sunday|, and His latest e-book, “Set the Stage: a Manifesto for Church Stage Design” is available now. You’ll find him in San Antonio, Texas roasting his own coffee beans enjoying life with his Argentine wife, Carolina.