On Church Buildings and Portable Church

Great thoughts from Geoff Surratt on the Problems w/Church Buildings & why/how to make portable church sustainable. Our church has been portable since inception in 2009. There are limitations, but Surratt does a great job demonstrating that the grass is not always greener on the side of having a permanent building. I learned this the hard way when our first church plant moved from being portable and meeting in an unairconditioned fire station to owning our own property. The building sucked much of the energy out of community ministries but we had air conditioning. Interestingly enough, 6 months later, many of our leaders were saying, “I wish we were back in the fire station.” Below is a synopsis of Surratt’s comments. All the posts are well worth reading for church planters and those thinking of multiplying through multi-site:

I agree with Surratt: “Church buildings are not evil, obviously most churches have had them for the past 1700 years. But if we are going to really make a dent in reaching lost people I think we are going to have to literally think outside the box.” 

Part 1: What a Building Won’t Do

  • First, a building won’t make you a real church. I’m sure you realize that the Christian church built few, if any, buildings before 300 AD.
  • a building doesn’t validate a church, the anointing of the Holy Spirit validates a church.
  • if you have a leadership development problem, a discipleship problem or a volunteer recruitment problem now, you will still have those challenges once you have a building. If people aren’t growing at your church now they still won’t be growing when you put a permanent roof over their heads.

Part 2: The Hidden Costs

  • Buildings Attract Christians – If your target audience is now sitting in someone else’s pew, then a new building is just the bait to lure them in. If you really are after the unchurched, a building might not have the impact you think it will have.
  • Buildings Eat 24/7 – When you get a permanent facility you won’t have to set up and tear down any more, but you will have to pour endless amounts of cash into the care and feeding of your new money pit.
  • Buildings Modify Vision – Once you have a permanent location the vision of your church will be greatly impacted by your building. A lot of what you do will be guided by paying for your box, filling up your box and expanding your box.

Part 3: 8 Ways to Make Portable Sustainable

  1. Realize you have meeting space now
  2. Lease an office space with a small to medium size meeting room
  3. Have multiple teams for set up and tear down
  4. Select the right team leaders
  5. Honor the setup and tear down teams
  6. Build community into the teams
  7. Create a path for advancement
  8. Hire the setup/tear down crew

And interestingly enough, 62% of residents in our community recently said in a professional opinion poll that they would be ok with attending church in a school, movie theater or other public building.

Thoughts? Follow-up questions? Ideas or experiences on portable church?

About Lane Corley

I am - Follower of Jesus Christ - Husband to the beautiful and patient Heather Corley - Father of three. - Church Planter / Church Planting Strategist with the Louisiana Baptist Convention. - When I can, I’m reading, raised bed gardening, deer hunting, and on mission with my church. - Hoping to be helpful.

Posted on February 4, 2012, in Church, Church Planting, Ministry. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for an excellent post that places things in perspective!

  1. Pingback: Why Portable Church? Advantages and Objections | Lane Corley

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