Behind the Scenes

The Backstory of Stage Design at Christ’s Church

by Dale Reeves
Story Pastor

Yesterday at Christ’s Church, the new stage design was unveiled for this year’s Christmas season. Many people commented on how awesome the “Christmas tree screen” and lights are for this set. Today we peek behind what goes into the creativity that we see every Sunday on stage at Christ’s Church—as well as the backstories of key personalities that make it happen.

For the past seven years, Nathan Siegele has been the brains behind the creative set designs. Nathan is passionate about creativity. He says, “We serve the God of creation, so I believe we should use our imagination to reflect God’s creativity in whatever ways possible. I want to help create moments that reinforce the message we are communicating, whether it be through lights, video, or stage design.” Nathan became a follower of Jesus in the sixth grade and he immediately got involved in serving in the church. Because he saw a need in churches for quality production, and because he has always loved film and technology, he attended Abilene Christian University where he could combine both his love for Christ and his love for media, earning a degree in electronic media and communications.

Setting the Stage

Nathan began doing set design while he was the media director at Compass Christian Church in Texas, as he recalls, “When we started recording our services, I felt like the stage could look better on camera. The rest is history.” Not only does Nathan love enhancing the worship experience through creative media that brings glory to God, he also loves training new volunteers in all aspects of production. He reflects, “I love empowering my volunteers to create a welcoming and Christ-centered experience for our worship services.”

Two of his rock-star volunteers are Bill and Deb Church. Their spiritual journey is quite different from Nathan’s. Deb went to church as a child, especially for Christmas and Easter services. But, when she turned fifteen, she started experimenting with drugs and church took a back seat. She recalls, “By the time I graduated from high school, I had dropped quite a bit of acid/LSD (after all, it was the psychedelic ’70s!).” She tried Campus Crusade for Christ during college at Ball State but she says, “They didn’t party like I wanted to.” Deb says she got involved with several guys and lived a promiscuous lifestyle until she met a guy whom she married after graduation. They were married for eight years before they divorced. Next came lots of time spent with her single girlfriends looking for guys in the clubs. Deb says, “I was so reckless I should have ended up in a dumpster somewhere.”

Deb didn’t know that God was preparing her for her next stage in life, and it would involve meeting Bill. He had attended a church in North College Hill as a child through his teenage years. At the age of fifteen Bill left the church and wouldn’t return for many years. After high school graduation, Bill joined the sign painters’ union. You may have seen some of his amazing art on the interstate billboards in Cincinnati through the years. Bill also played drums in a band for fifteen years.

Redemption Is Sweet

Deb worked with Bill’s sister and went out drinking with her for a year before she told him she had a single brother. They met on a blind date, moved in together six months later, and were married on September 21, 1989. The drinking and drugs continued, but Deb knew something was missing. She says, “I would cry in my beer and tell Bill that we needed to go to church. We went through our share of trouble and discussed divorce a few times, but he stayed by me through the loss of both of my parents. We just kept drinking more, until finally in November 2014, I was getting drunk at the Village Tavern, and I told Bill I wanted to go to church. Bill said OK. The next Sunday we got dressed and drove around looking for a church to go to. I remembered that my co-worker Mary Lautzenheiser attended Christ’s Church, and that’s when we showed up here.”

Bill says, “I knew we needed Christ in our lives.” That first Sunday, Deb and Bill saw a worship band come on stage and asked each other, “What? A  band  in church?” They were blown away by the contemporary Christian music and the pastor who walked out to speak with tattoos all over both of his arms. Deb explains, “Trevor told us that they talk a lot about Jesus in this church, and I was hooked. We didn’t miss a Sunday.” Deb and Bill attended Foundations class where they learned about baptism and both of them were baptized shortly thereafter. When I led that Foundations class, I said to them, “The Church’s have shown up now, so we can have church,” not knowing anything of their colorful backstory nor the incredible things God had in mind for their future.

Deb shares, “Our marriage ever since has flourished with Christ as the center. I thank God every day for waiting for me to come to Jesus, and for loving me too much to leave me in that dumpster.”

Here to Serve

When Bill was baptized in 2015, he recalls, “The Holy Spirit moved me so much!” He was anxious to use his talents on stage production, so he asked Nathan Siegele if he could help. He says, “It is so powerful to feel the Holy Spirit working in you.” Bill’s favorite Scripture passage is John 13, where Jesus demonstrated a servant attitude by washing the feet of his disciples. Bill hates being in the limelight, but he loves being behind the stage, doing his part to help serve God by serving others with his talents. Additionally, last year Bill was part of the crew that went to serve with our missions partner, Go Ministries, in the Dominican Republic.

Deb grew up learning from her dad and brother who were custom home-builders, and has always loved creating things from scratch or rehabbing something unsightly into something beautiful—“kinda like what God has done with me,” she comments. Four or five times a year, Bill and Deb help Nathan flip the stage. Where do their creative ideas come from? Nathan shares, “I get ideas from things I see on TV, other churches, and design websites. I like to take everyday items and find creative ways to turn them into set pieces. For example, the large center screen that we’ve used for several years is made from insulation foam, which is relatively inexpensive—and I can shape it into any design I need it to be.”

Bill summarizes why he loves being involved in helping to transform the stage with his creative talents: “We all like new and different visual experiences as a way to express our worship and praise to God. I love being a part of that process to help others worship God.”

Deb concludes, “Good stage design helps enhance the videos and stories. We want to make it interesting enough to hold people’s attention but not so distracting that it takes away from God’s message.”

The message of God’s truth is what it’s all about, and why these three pour their heart and soul into the stage design at Christ’s Church.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV).

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