Breaking Down Sightlines in Worship Centers


In a recent article in Church Designer Magazine, author and design leader Chuck Hultstrand, provides an excellent overview of the key elements required to create visual experiences through the use of integrated sightlines.  As a review…

Just what are sightlines again?

Sightlines are hypothetical lines from someone’s eye to what is seen (used especially with reference to good or bad visibility). These are any of the lines of sight between the spectators and the stage or playing area in a theater, stadium, etc. But, when you are designing a Worship Center, a good architectural designer and AV professional begins evaluating sightlines from the road. So, we will begin there too.

Sightlines start from the car

As parishioners arrive from their cars, the building itself should be highly visible and attractive.  Signage should be inviting and provide clear communications for both guests and established members.

Sightlines provide a pathway

Upon arrival, worshippers should easily be directed to an entryway where they will be greeted with further visual and audio cues.  Elements such as energy, activity, vibrancy, and life should be conveyed through the use of architecture, people, and visual aids.   Display screens with rotating pieces of news and information will provide direction for newcomers and pass on key information for congregants.  If childcare is provided, easy-to-spot and interactive kiosks can provide a means to ease anxiety while checking in families.

I found Chuck Hulstrand’s own words to be best as he shares his best strategies for the Worship Center and the primary focus, worship:

Entering the place of worship

As people enter the gathering area to prepare for worship, a clear sightline to the auditorium itself should highlight a celebrated, significant entry point. Often designers use light and color to draw the eye from any vantage point in the lobby. Materials such as backlit translucent panels act like a beacon calling the congregation to worship. This entry builds a sense of anticipation and reminds worshippers of the significance of the space. Just past this threshold, people may encounter something to draw their eyes upward, such as a super graphic projection or countdown clock to build excitement for worship, which encourages them to look around and engage with the space.

During worship

As worship begins, maintaining sightlines from the seating area to worship leaders and video screens may require sloped floors, stadium seats, a raised stage, or a combination of the three. The primary sightline should be from the congregation to the people leading in worship and music. In some traditional worship centers, the sightlines screen the choir and other musicians from view to create a particular mood of reverence and serenity. During the speaking parts of the service, large congregations rely on image magnification (IMAG) to broadcast a close-up of the speaker’s face onto large screens. Since people are more focused on the screen than on the speaker, it is important that the sightline creates a comfortable viewing relationship between the worshipper and the screen.

Reverse sightlines are also important

Those leading in worship must have a clear view to timers, “confidence monitors,” song lyrics, and the congregation. In some situations, key worship leaders such as an organist are unable to see the congregation; video connections are especially important for those who need to be able to see the wedding procession forming outside the door, or monitor the lobby before the service for cues.

Rest assured, the AV Bend team has had plenty of experience designing and servicing churches and worship centers.  Connect with us soon if you have plans to build or redesign yours.

Using visual connections to enhance your worship experience!

Tony, the AV guy