On Being Portable

Oak Leaf Church has been a portable church for 20 months, meeting in a movie theater, moving to a high school, and then moving back to the movie theater. In a few days, we’re moving into a warehouse/nightclub that we’ve spent the last eight months renovating. I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some thoughts on being a portable church.

1. I absolutely love being portable and doing church in the community rather than in a traditional building. It’s been more great than tiring.

2. Being portable is a great way to connect volunteers, and especially guys. Some of the most incredible people in our church arrive at 5 am and spend 4 hours getting ready for church every week. That’s serious dedication.

3. You can do portability with excellence. We never let it be an excuse and we found a way to give things personality, create an atmosphere. By the end of our run at the theater, we were setting up two full theaters complete with sound, stage, lights and video. And we were doing that twice more for elementary children.

4. If you have a problem getting people to serve, that won’t get better if and when you get a building. You’ve got a vision problem, not a portability problem.

5. We have a great relationship with Carmike and with the local management. We really loved having church there, and they were incredible to work with. I know lots of portable churches have issues, but we never had any. I’m really proud of that. If you’re portable, the relationships that you have with the people that rent to you can make or break you.

6. If you want to do things well, prepare to work. For the first year, I was one of the first people to arrive (though I could NEVER beat our sound guy). It’s hard work to do things right, so if you’re afraid to work or sweat, then you should probably find a different line of work. Lead Pastors and staff…you set the tone for the whole church. If you think it’s too hard, then so will your people.

7. Being portable has affected how we view buildings. We’re moving into a relatively small space, because we don’t want a giant building that sits empty 6 days of the week. The space we’ve renovated is going to be used all the time, and not just for church. We’re making it available to the community because the community has made their space available to use for the past 2 years.

I’m looking forward to our next season of ministry, but I pray that our church always maintains the season of portability.


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