Stage Designs

Rube Goldberg Machine Stage Design

Rian Slay from First Baptist Euless in Euless, TX brings us this giant Rube Goldberg machine for their stage.

Their pastor was doing a series on 1 Corinthians 12 called “Synergy”. They wanted a set that could double as a sermon illustration of the need for synergy in the church—how every person is important and how if one part is out of place, the whole thing breaks down. So they built a huge Rube Goldberg Machine (a contraption like the game Mousetrap).

They started by watching about a million YouTube videos. There was a Coca-Cola commercial that was really helpful, but the most helpful one was a music video for a song call “this too shall pass” by the band OK Go. There were also a lot of behind the scenes videos from OK Go that were really helpful. Many of the elements in their machine were inspired from this video.

They knew the machine had to be big and colorful due to the size of their stage, and it had to be reliable so that they could set it off on the final week. Their pastor wanted the end result to be that it turned a light on.

They got together a team of engineers and designers. They raided every storage space in the church to see what materials they had available and started piecing together a plan based on that. Many of the things they used came from our children and youth departments. They knew they had a couple elements they definitely wanted—such as a Newton’s cradle and zip line. They also tried to come up with things that would make good sermon illustrations. Then they reached out to their congregation to get the other things they needed.

The first week of the series, all of the big elements were placed on stage but were not connected. Each week as the series progressed, they connected the pieces. They set off little sections on various weeks as sermon illustrations as their pastor asked for them. One week he asked that their Newton’s cradle be rigged to not work, another he wanted a small section to be set off.

The week they set the whole thing off, they had several rehearsals. One thing that was extremely important was the resetting of the machine. It had to be reset the exact same way every single time by the same people. It also had to be done quickly. In order to prevent it from being set off too early, they decided that their pastor would call up the team at a point during the sermon and they would set it up as he continued speaking. Obviously, it had to be done very quickly and efficiently, while still being done correctly.

Overall they spent about $500 and about a trillion trips to Home Depot, and a ton of man-hours by a team made up mostly of volunteers over about a 2 ½ month period. It had electrical components, a zip-line from the catwalk, and a water feature among other things. Most of the money was spent on lumber, paint, and connecting materials. Many of the big items they found in various storage areas or borrowed from volunteers.

Check out the final product:

Rube Goldberg 9

Rube Goldberg 10

Rube Goldberg 11

Rube Goldberg 12

Rube Goldberg 13

Rube Goldberg 14

Rube Goldberg 15

Rube Goldberg 18

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