Lighting is a powerful tool for creating the right mood and atmosphere for all kinds of events in venues of all types and sizes. And, thanks to advances in LED technology, flexible and effective lighting tools are now available even when budgets are limited. That’s what a Californian Worship Pastor discovered when he set about the challenge of renovating his church’s antiquated lighting system with the latest LED-powered technology from ADJ.

Church For Life is a thriving multi-generational, multi-ethnic Christian church in Santa Maria, CA. It was established, by a handful of like-minded believers, in 2003 and has grown consistently ever since. The church now runs a 380-seat auditorium and regularly welcomes over 600 people through its doors each week, across two Sunday morning services and a mid-week youth event.

Worship Pastor, Chris Roina, oversees all of the church’s music and worship services, which incorporates the technical production aspects. Having recently completed a complete overhaul of the main sanctuary’s lighting system, Chris invited ADJ’s marketing director, Brian Dowdle, to visit the church and see the impact the lighting has made to the space. When Brian visited, the stage was set for the church’s Christmas celebrations. The impressive lighting system played a pivotal role in bringing the set to life, however, less than a year ago, Chris was relying on far less creative tools.

“The church’s building had a basic lighting system, which we inherited when we moved in,” he explained, “but it was designed for a very different purpose. We had big incandescent lights that gave us very little flexibility and meant that it was very hot on stage. Then it started to break down – the capacitors were all going out on the board – so we realized that we needed to upgrade and began looking for a new system”.

Fortunately, Chris knew where to go for advice on what equipment would be needed to transform Church For Life’s lighting system. Johnny Salgado of Central California-based Smart Media Solutions was old high school friends with the church’s head sound guy, and had already done a great job of upgrading the auditorium’s audio system back in 2015.

“Johnny’s been great, such a help and resource, I don’t think there’s any way we’d have gotten the value that we have without him,” said Chris. “He steered us to the right equipment that allowed us to do what we wanted from a technical standpoint, but also fit into our budget. And we’re really happy with all of the ADJ products he recommended.”

At the heart of the system that Johnny suggested – and then went on to supply and install – is ADJ’s new Encore Profile 1000 Color LED-powered ellipsoidal. Offering adjustable zoom between 12- and 30-degrees, as well as manual framing shutters, this unique fixture is a powerful and flexible stage lighting tool. At Church For Life, Johnny installed eight Encore Profile 1000 Colors, rigged to the ceiling, midway between the stage and the back of the auditorium. This was the first time that he had used and installed these particular fixtures and we were pleased to hear that he was very impressed.

“I had a demo of the Encore fixtures at ADJ’s showroom in Los Angeles and just a couple of weeks later I met with Chris,” says Johnny. “As soon as he’d explained what he was looking for I said ‘oh my gosh, I’ve got the perfect thing for you’! The flexibility of an LED-powered ellipsoidal at such a low price-point was perfect for this installation and now, having seen the system in action, I can say that I am very impressed, it generates a very flattering light.”

In addition to the Color models, two Encore Profile 1000 WW fixtures have also been installed at the back of Church For Life’s sanctuary to provide natural-looking illumination of the worship leaders and pastors. The stage lighting is then completed by four of ADJ’s powerful 150W COB Cannon Washes, which provide in-fill washing from the front and sides, as well as some smaller LED pars (which the church already owned) that provide downlighting at the back of the stage. The result is an impressive system that provides effective illumination for the set – which is changed regularly – as well as for the people on stage.
Good lighting isn’t just important for the congregation in attendance, as sermons from Sunday services are regularly filmed and made available online for those who aren’t able to attend in person. “The church’s old lighting system meant that the pastors looked flat – like cardboard cutouts – in the sermon videos,” Johnny told us. “Now, thanks to the combination of the ellipsoidals, in-fill color washes and rear pars providing back light, people in the videos look 3D and lifelike. It has made a huge difference and the church staff were very happy with the end result.”

Church For Life’s new lighting system also features four of ADJ’s Inno Spot Pro moving head fixtures, which Johnny installed in a line above the stage. These can be used to spotlight specific points on the stage, to add texture with GOBOs, and also to create beam effects pointing out at the congregation.

“One of the things that has been great about this new lighting system is the flexibility it gives us,” explained Chris. “For our Wednesday night youth services, we can make a party atmosphere. The kids love it; it’s lots of fun, there’s lots of energy, it really brings an air of excitement to what we’re doing. Then, on Sundays, we can have that party atmosphere, but also dial it down to nice worshipful moments. Also, having the moving head lights means that we can highlight specific things that are happening – such as the baptismal – focusing on just that particular moment in a dramatic way. The flexibility of the system really has been very beneficial for us.”

As is becoming more and more common, thanks to increases in brightness and falling costs, the church’s new lighting system uses exclusively LED-powered fixtures. Initially, this was a concern for Chris, but having followed Johnny’s advice to opt for ADJ’s professional-grade LED-powered fixtures, it turned out to have a host of significant benefits.

“Our biggest concern,” said Chris, “was could we get enough light out of LED [-powered fixtures] for the budget that we had. And the answer five years ago, was definitely no. But LED technology has come so far since then, meaning that we were now able to move to a fully LED-based stage lighting system. And it’s great; it’s so much cooler on stage and we’re using a lot less power, so we’re actually saving on our utility bills! Another real benefit is that instead of having to swap gels to change colors we can access any color we want on the fly. It’s been revolutionary!”

Not only was Chris impressed by the power of ADJ’s latest LED fixtures, he was also pleasantly surprised by how affordable they are. When first setting out to update the church’s lighting system he didn’t think his limited budget would be enough for the quantity and diversity of fixtures that Johnny was able to install. The church now has a flexible system that gives the AVL team a huge amount of creative potential.

“We decided to make a move from just turning some lights on to actually incorporating lighting as part of our services,” enthused Chris. “One of the things that is important for us is setting an atmosphere that is welcoming for people, and lighting can really make people feel comfortable, or uncomfortable, depending on if we do a good job. As we’ve advanced the lighting component of our services it has really helped to create the right atmosphere for praise and worship, and also to create a comfortable and enjoyable place for people to be. Sometimes exciting, sometimes peaceful; lighting can create so many different moods. But our main job is to help people focus on God and lighting can be distracting to that or a facilitator for it. We try to make the lighting be transparent to the service, not flashy or ‘in your face’ but an enhancement for whichever mood we’re entering within the service. It’s become a great tool, it’s really helpful.”

Chris and the rest of the Church For Life leadership are so happy with their ADJ lighting setup that they’re already planning a similar system for their Kid’s Church room. In fact, Johnny has already installed two Encore Profiles and four COB Cannon Washes in the space, with more new additions planned for the near future. He too has been very impressed, both with the products used for this installation and the general expansion of ADJ’s product range.

“Over the past year, year and a half, I’ve been really impressed by the new fixtures that ADJ have released that are suitable for permanent installations, not just mobile gigs. I’ve particularly been impressed with the quality, compared to equipment from other manufacturers. I’ve put in systems that are used very heavily and ADJ fixtures just haven’t let me down where others have. It’s good to see the expansion of the ADJ range to include a lot more professional, integration and installation fixtures that offer good quality AND great value for money.”

The combination of Chris’ passion and creativity, Johnny’s technical knowhow and ADJ’s powerful, versatile and affordable fixtures has completely transformed the lighting at Church For Life. Now, instead of “just turning on some lights”, Chris and his tech team are enhancing the worship experience for every one of the 600+ people who attend the church’s services on a weekly basis.

Church For Life
3130 Skyway Drive #501, Santa Maria, CA 93455

Equipment Supplier / Installer:
Johnny Salgado
Smart Media Solutions

Worship Pastor / Lighting Designer:
Chris Roina

Additional Lighting Programmer: Moi Munoz, TRU Music Lighting

Brian Dowdle

ADJ Gear List:

Main Sanctuary
2 x ADJ Encore Profile WW
8 x  ADJ Encore Profile Color
4 x ADJ COB Cannon Wash
4 x ADJ Inno Spot Pro
2 x ADJ Ultra Bar 12

Kid’s Church Room
2 x ADJ Encore Profile Color
4 x ADJ COB Cannon Wash

Check out ADJ Lighting in action at Church For Life: