Why Your Church Plant Might Want to STAY a Portable Church

Six strategic advantages to being a portable church. Bonus: You’ll become great at making straight rows of folding chairs!

portable church

I’m a fan of churches not owning locations and being a portable church. I know there is a stigma amongst church leadership types against mobile ministry, but I really do think churches that have permanent locations are the ones missing out!

If you are looking at launching a new location for your church, here are some advantages of going portable in that new location. Maybe you are a church planter wrestling with how hard it’s going to be mobile … here are some positive advantages of being portable! Heck! … maybe you lead in one of those “old school permanent location churches” … here are the reasons you should sell it and go portable!

6 Great Reasons to Stay a Portable Church

1. Redeeming Public Space

We live in an increasingly post-Christian culture. “Holy buildings” scare people. Rather than ask people to “come to us,” portable churches get to “go to them” and use spaces that are used throughout the week by the people you are trying to reach. The church is supposed to be in the culture and making a difference, and being mobile takes that biblical imperative and makes it tangible!

2. Lighter and Quicker Footprint

You can pull the trigger on getting in (and possibly out) of a community faster when it’s a portable location you are looking at. You can measure the time to open a new location in weeks, not months and years. If this campus or location of your church isn’t working out for some reason … you can pull your resources out of that community and attempt a ministry in a better location.

3. Activate New Volunteers

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At the heart of the portable church experience is a group of dedicated volunteers who set up and tear down all the equipment to do this. At one of our locations, we moved from being portable to being permanent, and it was a real loss when these core team members lost a way to serve that they loved. Portable churches engage more volunteers and a wider spectrum of people serve on their teams.

4. Lower Cost Per Guest

Do you know how much it costs to build or renovate church space per person? Often it costs between three to 10 times more to host the same number of guests in a permanent church facility than a rented location. One of our campuses is meeting in a theater right now that easily cost 3-4 million dollars to build … I’m happy we’re just renting it weekly rather than worrying how to pay for it!

5. Fluid Space Usage

As the needs of your church grow and change, you are able to match your facility usage to those needs. Need more space for adults to sit … move to a bigger room! Your student ministry is thriving and bursting at the seams … find a different space for them. Want to try a new Sunday morning class for adults … just rent a space for a few weeks and see what’s happens. When you build a permanent location, it’s … permanent.

6. Community Partnerships

Because you are going to be meeting in a space owned by someone else, you need to work on partnerships in the community. This posture is the right place for the church to be in. An active part of your role is going to be managing those relationships, and it pushes us to see ourselves as a part of the community rather than distant from the people around us.

Rich Birch
Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. He blogs at UnSeminary.com and is a sought after speaker and consultant on multisite, pastoral productivity and communications.