Why Portable Church? Advantages and Objections
Portable Church has MANY advantages. I’ve come to love being portable. Here’s why:
Energy can be directed outside the walls, because the walls are not ours. In portable situations, the church is usually not responsible for cleaning, managing accounts, & making repairs. We’re able to direct the skills of the people more to the needs of the community.
The cost of buildings are growing exponentially. In many, not all, communities, being portable is better financially for new & transitioning churches. Often the cost of building straps congregations with debt & too small a seating capacity for maximizing growth.
3. Community Engagement
A Lifeway research study called The State of Church Planting showed that new churches that meet in public places experience 42%-49% greater attendance than others. Unchurched people are comfortable attending gatherings in theaters, gyms, banquet rooms, hotels. And the benefit to non-profit locations that churches can gather in is great. Churches we’ve planted have met in a Fire Station, YMCA, & Museum. Each greatly benefited from our rent payed & our church came to see our being there as an investment in the community.
Portable church allows for the ministry to be built on what is most important, especially in critical early years. When you are portable, people attend church due to relationships & mission. The building & space are less likely to become “tails that wag the dog.”
Isn’t that a lot of work?
Yes. It takes work to setup. But that work involves people rubbing shoulders & elbows together weekly. In my experience setting up church on Sunday’s brings people together. In my opinion, one of the reasons portable churches meeting in public places have 42%-49% greater attendance is because of the work that requires mobilizing people every weekend. Relationships + Responsibility = a Reason to Return. Churches with few mobilization opportunities limit their capacity for growth. Portable church set up expands mobilization potential.
Doesn’t a building signify that you’re a real church?
Maybe so. But do you really want a building to define your church. Church should be defined by its disciples, their love for one another, & the churches ministry in the community. Studies & my own experience shows that portable church can enhance these things.
Won’t people get burned out?
People tend to get burned out in any situation. The work of the leader is to provide good systems, regular encouragement, & changes of pace to allow people to manage seasons of their lives. And portable churches can setup with great creativity & simplicity limiting the workload, but still involving greater numbers of people in the ministry of the church.
Now, churches do reach a critical mass in attendance & finances where ownership & construction may make better sense. And God often provides building at the right time for the growth of His church. HOWEVER, there’s no need to be afraid of portable church. If your thinking about starting a church that may need to be portable or you’re thinking of staying portable, use these questions as a guide:
- Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me direct energy outside the walls?
- Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me with engaging community leaders & spheres of influence?
- Will portable church help establish the culture & vision of this new church for this community?
- Am I ready to establish teams & mobilize people?
Find some other great thoughts about Portable Church from Geoff Surratt in my earlier post On Church Buildings and Portable Church.