KW Stories -

How a self-taught lighting designer uses color to illuminate the Gospel —

By CIY Staff

Created on 09/25/2018

Brilliant streams of light dance to the music across young crowds at each CIY event - energetically capturing each attendee's attention to the stage.

All aspects of CIY programs are intentional - including the lights. CIY SuperStart Production Director Matt Foreman explained the use of lights are essential to each attendee's unique and personal experience.

"The lights help set the environment - they are just as much a part of the set as a set piece," he said. "I think it also helps set the mood and sway the emotions of the audience. If the lights are excited - you're excited. There's a visual cue of reverence - when the lights hit at the right moment, it helps enhance that moment."

CIY partners with contract lighting designers, and one is Curtis Sleme - who says this is his passion in Kingdom work.


"I'm living my dream," he said from the control board at a recent SuperStart event. "I love all the programs - they're life-changing."

Sleme, of St. Louis, Missouri, attended CIY events as a youth - and even then - he said the lights fascinated him. He was a student representative with St. Louis Christian College when he reconnected to CIY, and expressed his interest in running the lights. Sleme took initiative in watching lighting tutorials, and learned much of the trade at event sites.

"Curtis is always striving to improve upon what he's done," Foreman said. "Each week, there's always something that he's added. He's a hard worker, and wants it to be great so that the program will be great and the name of Jesus is amplified."

Today Sleme serves the ministry for SuperStart, MOVE and has worked with other CIY programs as well over the past four years.

"I feel like I picked it up pretty quick and CIY liked me enough to let me help on the MIX tour that first year - been doing it ever since," he said. "When I first got into this, I wasn't interested in the events for the younger ages but I was shocked by the ability the kids have to understand the Gospel. I saw the impact it was making on them. You see hands raised, talking and praying together - it's just awesome."


There's an art to light design. Sleme said he appreciates venues with good airflow - where the haze can disperse evenly - but the most important result is the impact on young hearts to connect to Jesus.

"The biggest lesson I've learned is to aid in worship and not distract," Sleme said. "It's all about creating an environment appealing to the younger generation. It's fun, sets the tone and celebrates what God has done."

Sleme will return to the light console for CIY when the MOVE tour for high school students kicks off June 3 in Joplin, Missouri. To see more dates and locations for MOVE, click here.