Sometimes, Portable Means Both Permanent and Portable

Grace Community Church in Falls Church, VA approached us with a challenge that is becoming more common: “We want to launch a new portable campus in a school, but we want to permanently install some equipment. Portable Church, do you do that?” Yes, we do.

We have worked with over 2,500 churches to custom-design their portable solutions. No two church launch solutions are alike. There are unique requirements because of facility constraints, local ordinances, size of volunteer teams and how to maximize their energy and time, complexity of the system, and church vision. Often, installing permanent equipment in a rented venue is the best solution for the church launch.

Portable Church Grace Community Church permanent portable install scaffoldIn this case, upgrading George Mason High School’s audio, video and lighting in their auditorium, was both something that would bless the school and community and improve the worship experience as long as Grace rents the space. Grace contracted Portable Church to conduct an on-site consultation. It was an exciting opportunity to help the church achieve their vision while utilizing our technical team’s permanent design/build and portable expertise.

One of the primary concerns that brought Grace to us was that the school auditorium had both aesthetic and acoustic challenges too complex for them to handle on their own. After assessing the needs, our consultants, including Tim Boyer, determined that Portable Church would be able to revamp the room in just five days – information that delighted the church team.

What differentiates Portable Church from firms that primarily only do permanent install is that we have 20+ years of experience addressing the complex portable component of the solution. Most of Portable Church’s design team consultants also have experience in permanent AVL design/build.

With Grace, PCI incorporated both PCI expertise and local AVL experts to implement the total solution. PCI took a design/build approach – putting the project on paper, orchestrating the timeline, procuring the labor to hang the project, and finally commissioning it for their soft launch weekend.

Tim Boyer had a blast working with Grace, which had previously contracted PCI to design a Kids and Community portability project. “Grace trusted us to be the voice of experience. That combined with a consulting team that was able to bring non-typical work experience to the table for this project made for a huge success all the way around.”

Portable Church is ready to assist other churches with their custom new campus or church plant initiatives, whether that means totally portable, blended permanent/portable or adding new equipment to a permanent site so that older equipment can be reused in a portable venue.

Are you ready to speak to us about your portable (or portable/permanent) needs? Fill out the information below.

Free Resources for Portable Churches

In the past several years, we’ve talked with hundreds of portable church leaders, from technical directors to pastors to volunteer captains and more. We’re constantly amazed by the new challenges and ideas that come with unique projects. In 20+ years, we’ve not only watched the portable church arena grow, we have grown with it.

That’s why we’re passionate to share the wealth of knowledge we’ve been blessed with. Want to know what kind of venues churches can meet in? We have that list. Is there a proven excellent way to set up a volunteer team (and how to get more men involved)? We have suggestions on that matter. How does a church hire a Campus Pastor? We have that as well! And we continue to think of other solutions and best practices that may be useful to share.

To develop some of our eBooks, we have reached out to people in ministry to share their stories and expertise. It’s with humility that we have published many eBooks, infographics and other materials, including The Portable Multisite Church Podcast Series and our Venue List. We hope that any of these materials may be used as a guide for new and multiplying portable churches.

Check out all the resources today. Every item is FREE and easy to download from your browser.

You can also subscribe to our blog.

Creating the Team & Establishing the Process

Your volunteer vision, strategy, attitude and approach to launching portable churches and campuses will greatly impact the success, discipleship, spiritual formation, community impact and long-term growth of your church.

You’re going to begin life in a rented, secular space like a school, theater or community center. So, is your glass half full or half empty?

Your attitude and approach do matter!


Some church leaders view launching portability as a problem. Others treat it as an opportunity. The difference between a problem and an opportunity is what we do with it, not what it is to begin with.

Let me paint two different approaches from my five years of leadership working inside and with portable churches.

Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL, has 12+ church plants / sites, with many more in the pipeline. As their senior pastor, Chris Hodges, shared in the November / December 2015 issue of Church Executive, even though the church has funding to purchase buildings for each launch, they purposefully launch in portable venues to minimize overhead and maximize care for its volunteers and the community. Potential volunteers see that portability is Plan A and can be excited to join into the work that comes with it.

A different (unnamed) church plant meets in a school and regularly apologizes to the setup volunteers and thanks them for their hard work and sacrifice. “Someday we will have our own building; we just have to survive until then.” Pleas from stage for volunteers are frequent. New attenders feel guilty if they don’t take their turn at setup. Images of being a martyr and, “It’s thankless work, but we’ll receive our reward in heaven” reflect the attitude at this church. (I wish I were exaggerating…)

Churches that treat portability as an opportunity can be in position to have ministry impact that most permanent churches can’t. One huge, unique ministry opportunity is capitalizing on engaging a large number of men on your volunteer teams and creating a community for men to serve, and get to know and minister to one another.

When established well, this makes it easier to connect new men attenders to other men in the congregation and establish a community where men get plugged in, contribute and grow. There are too many benefits to list in this brief article.


It turns out that the same principles that apply to recruiting and equipping volunteers in the other parts of church apply to the portable church setup and tear-down teams. One unique difference, however, is that – at first – often the Core Launch Team also serves as the Core Setup and Tear-Down Team. It’s a bit like playing both offense and defense in football.

Therefore, with portable churches, you need to develop an extra layer of structure, leadership, processes and care specific to setup and tear-down to maximize efficiency and minimize burnout.

Just like you wouldn’t try to lead your staff or a company without a defined organizational structure, you shouldn’t expect setup and tear-down to go well without a clear, well-thought-out volunteer team structure. The best practice in this area is to have a volunteer foreperson who oversees the whole process and ensures your church’s quality and excellence standards are met each week. Likely, this foreperson would oversee other volunteer leaders like a volunteer setup / tear-down Worship Leader, Guest Services Leader, and Children’s / Youth Leader.

How many volunteers do you need to effectively staff this area? It depends – on the complexity of your worship setup, the quantity of aesthetic treatments needed, the number of children’s rooms, and whether you have invested in a specialized, efficient portable church system to organize everything. As a rule of thumb, if you have a clear structure and you use specialized equipment and systems designed for portable church environments, a setup team of 15 to 20 individuals for a church running 250 to 500 adults is common.

Most churches develop a rotating serving schedule so volunteers won’t burn out. One approach I’m seeing more often now with multisite campuses and church plant launches with smaller core teams is that volunteers will serve each week, but there’s a modified service just for the volunteers before the main service.

For example, if the main service is at 10:30 a.m., but someday you’d like to also have a 9 a.m. service, the volunteers begin early so they finish by 9 a.m. Then, there’s a modified 9 a.m. service with extra prayer and a shortened sermon just for the volunteers. This way, volunteers don’t miss church, the team is strengthened, and the transition of adding a second service is easier.

| Scott Cougill, CEO of Portable Church Industries |

Want to gain more insights? Download our free ebook “Set-Up Process & Team Structures” that goes into many, many more specifics about volunteer structure, training, setup strategies and staffing.

Launch Strong: 5 Key Strategies

A record number of new churches are launching across North America. Most will initially choose to meet in a rented facility — often a school, movie theater or community center.

While church is never only about the building, renting a space that works with your vision for the new church or campus is very important. Having helped thousands of churches launch strong and thrive in rented spaces over the past 20 years, our company has determined five “must-haves” when it comes to selecting your portable site.

#1: A welcoming atmosphere

The connections new visitors make with existing members is ultimately what will help them grow into fruitful members of your church community. Surveys show that most visitors make up their mind to return within their first seven minutes on your campus. As such, the tone of your environment and volunteers is critical.

Many venues (a school with cinderblock walls, for example) might not provide a welcoming atmosphere on their own. Fortunately, it’s easy to turn this type of venue into the welcoming environment you want using extra treatments and equipment.

Even so, money can’t buy hospitality — that requires warm, welcoming people out front where visitors arrive. Additionally, setting up a café in the venue’s lobby or courtyard offers them something special.

And, while it’s critical to use signage to ensure all areas are easy to find, it’s equally important to strategically position people to answers visitors’ questions.

church welcome center, portable church, church volunteer

#2: A great A/V experience

Thinking about all the technology needed to run a church service on Sunday morning can be daunting — especially in a rented venue. You will need a custom combination of:

  • Speakers with the right coverage patterns and dispersion
  • Projectors sized right, based on screen size and lighting control
  • Correct-size screens viewable from anywhere in the room
  • Wireless microphones that won’t encounter drop-outs due to competing frequencies in your region
  • Wires to connect everything.

You must also be able to easily transport and set up all this technology each week.

#3: A safe, fun children’s area

Church leaders know better than anyone the importance of a safe, secure (and fun!) children’s area. Parents want to know their little ones are in good hands. In a portable church environment, achieving this type of space requires a little extra effort.

If your church meets in a movie theater, the kids’ space could be in the lobby, the hallway or even a party room. If your church meets in a school, the gymnasium can be divided up for different age groups. (Just make sure it’s air-conditioned!)

Dingy walls or inappropriate posters can be covered up using “scuba walls” or something similar. Simple tools can completely transform a space into a clean, bright, fun environment.

children's ministry, kids ministry, portable church

#4: Parking and easy access

On average, you’ll want to allow for 1.7 adults per car. What is your visitor estimate? Will you have enough onsite parking?

If not, consider renting parking spaces. Ask a nearby building or business if your church can use its parking accommodations on Sunday mornings. If your church is meeting in the city, consider renting out space in a parking garage, or at least negotiating for a discounted rate for your visitors.

#5: Clear signage

Direct, informative signs should not only get people where they need to be, but also create a great first impression. In rented facilities, this can be a challenge; often, you’re competing with permanent signage. So, your church signs need to stand out.

To this end, a basic rule of thumb is to always have a sign in view. When a visitor is standing at one of your signs, there should be at least one other sign in view. It will be a more enjoyable experience if the visitor is quickly and easily able to find exactly where he or she needs to go.

Finding a site where you can launch your portable church is challenging — and involved. Keeping these five tenets in mind will aid your selection process and go a long way toward launching strong.

Finding a Venue for Your Portable Church Launch

portable church, church venue, mobile church

Launching a new church or church campus this year? We know that finding the right facility is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. Choosing to have church in a rented space, rather than build a permanent building, allows churches to engage with the community in a recognizable building and begin church in a space that can be leveraged differently as growth occurs.

But, what makes a good rental location for a church? Will it be welcoming for visitors? Can we have a thriving children’s ministry? What is included and what do I need to purchase? Will my volunteers be able to set up in that location well?

These questions and many more are covered in our FREE eBook, “Choosing the Right Facility for Your Portable Church.” Download it today by filling out the form below! 

Technical Solutions for the Trader’s Point Christian Church Satellite Campus

In 2015, Trader’s Point Christian Church in Whitestown, Indiana, northwest of Indianapolis, partnered with Portable Church© Industries (PCI) when they made the decision to open a satellite campus instead of increasing the size of their first campus.

Brent Whetstine, production manager for Trader’s Point Christian Church, explained how the congregation decided on going multisite. “Opening a satellite campus in another location where a pocket of your congregation is currently commuting from just makes sense.”

Trader’s Point chose to open their satellite campus ten miles away from the main campus, in Carmel, utilizing Creekside Middle School as its Sunday morning meeting venue.

Effective churches experience growth, and that growth brings the blessing of challenges as well.

“You eventually run out of space, and the church gets so big it can be intimidating. You can only grow so large.”

With access only on Sunday mornings, many things need to be brought in each week for children’s and youth ministry spaces, not to mention all the audio, media and lighting support for the service itself. Trader’s Point turned to PCI for help in making this new campus a reality.

“Everything you need to conduct your worship service and associated ministries is packaged in a way that’s easy to set up for volunteers. It was a good value as well. It didn’t make sense for us to try and re-invent the portable church concept on our own. Everything we need for all ministries is configured to fit into four trailers.”

Signage and way-finding materials were created that both direct people to where they need to be as well as match the church’s existing branding via logos and color choices. “This really helps make the Carmel campus feel like ‘us’.”

PCI consultants met with the church early in the process to determine needs, and suggest material and equipment options. For Whetstine and his team, PCI took on the bulk of the concepts and implementation. “Outside of a few equipment decisions, I really didn’t need to be involved much. They already had scalable solutions that would work for us.”

For Trader’s Point, a D&B line array system with an Allen & Heath Qu-32 digital mixer was selected for front-of-house audio, a 21-foot screen with Barco projectors to provide media support and a large canvas for the “virtual pastor” teaching portion of the service – to stream live in HD from the Whitestown campus. Forty feet of truss was set up on stage, pre-configured with moving lights and LED washes, to be operated from front-of-house via a Jands Vista lighting controller.

All systems were wired into self-contained rolling racks. Lighting was pre-hung on the truss, to be merely rolled in and flown into position. Cable interconnections were designed to be minimal for fast setup.

Whetstine and a team of volunteers were then trained by PCI staff.

“It only takes eight volunteers to unload the tech trailer and have everything ready to go in about 45 minutes. PCI was there with us for that first weekend, and by the end of that weekend our volunteers walked away trained on how to do the setup and teardown. I didn’t need to do that training myself, which was awesome.”

Part of PCI’s objective with providing custom solutions is to help churches save on time and on funds.

“I realize as production director, I’m spending someone else’s offering. The idea of stewardship is a big deal to me. The Portable Church Industries solution helped us get the best equipment for both our budget and the volunteer’s capabilities.”

18 Questions You Must Ask When Choosing a Portable Church Venue

It’s important to ask the right questions when facing a big decision. That’s why we have put together these eighteen common questions that are asked by church planters and multisite campus pastors when a facility is being considered. We hope this infographic will help you on your journey to finding an amazing place that everyone will love for a long time.

Church Launch, Portable Church, Church Plant, Multisite Church, church planters, mobile church, facility, church venue


For more information on choosing a facility for your portable church, download our free ebook, Choosing The Right Facility For Your Portable Church.

Launching Strong – The Secret to Excellence and Volunteer Retention in Portable Churches

The church multisite trends are clear: growth through multiple smaller venues, financial stewardship through leasing, and reaching people in their neighborhoods.1 Yet, churches are leaving traditional facilities in favor of rented spaces that still provide for:

  • Excellent environments for worship, children’s ministry, and community.
  • A culture that matches the DNA of their main campus.
  • Engaged, highly productive and happy volunteers.

There are two common mistakes churches can make when trying to launch strong in a portable campus – the definition of which is one that must be set up and torn down each week. First, churches trying to do it themselves; or second, thinking their permanent Audio, Video, and Lighting (AVL) Systems Integrator will be able to do the portable design with the same excellence they did the permanent campus.

Each approach overlooks the fact that whatever excellent products, equipment, and AVL that is chosen, volunteers will be arriving to church early to set it up and staying afterward to pack everything up. This routine – set up, serve, tear down – repeats week after week after week.

The “secret” to a thriving portable church launch begins with a design that incorporates both excellent products/equipment and the volunteers. Portability design is the most important expertise that a church can bring to the effort of planning for a strong and thriving church in a rented space.

Portable Church® Industries has developed and refined a Balanced Solution portability design process over the past 20+ years through direct, hands-on launch experience with over 2,500 different portable churches across North America. Our solutions have excellent and welcoming worship, children’s, and community environments that volunteers can set up quickly, efficiently, and with excellence. Volunteers in these churches feel valued, invested in, and more excited to serve. In fact, happy volunteers serve more, give more, and invite others more.

Volunteers get very frustrated when tasks are made harder than they need to be. They dislike wasted time – especially on tasks that don’t involve direct ministry. Their excitement and commitment to serve will be tough to maintain if the setup and teardown process is overly involved, time consuming and inefficient.

Launching strong in a rented venue doesn’t have to be frustrating. Engage a portability expert, like Portable Church® Industries, early in your multisite campus journey and prepare not only to launch strong, but to thrive. Learn more at or call us today at 800.939.7722.

1“Why Smaller Churches Are Going Multisite – Rainer on Leadership #296”

Case Story: CityReach Network Endicott

Last year, CityReach Network partnered with Church in a Box® Solutions, a division of Portable Church® Industries, to design custom CityReach sound systems and portable packages for all the churches launching in the network. That included 32 church plants that year alone, with 40+ new launches expected in 2017.

A big goal of the partnership was to save on cost, increase energy for volunteers and allow the pastors to focus on building their teams and community. John Snider is the pastor of CityReach Endicott (CRE) of New York, which launched in September 2016.

John already had experience in logistics for church setup and teardown at a church that had built its own system. When Church in a Box® provided training to volunteers on the first day of using the portable system, an ongoing volunteer plan began.

“At CRE everyone becomes a logistics team member. It takes 15 minutes to set up the kids’ area, 30 minutes to set up the gymnasium. It is not an arduous journey to train, and we can throw anybody into the setup… I’m impressed at how easy the equipment is to use.”

With Church in a Box® providing the custom CityReach package, John was relieved from the challenging responsibilities and perplexities of coming up with a sound system from scratch.

“I didn’t have to spend 9 months finding inventory and shopping for every part. I was freed up not to do all of that.”

What does it look like to work with Church in a Box®? John knows that on any day, if he has a question or problem, he can contact Church in a Box® and get an answer right away, or very soon.

Now, John can instill the vision for the church and focus on people rather than equipment.

Church in a Box® and CityReach Network refined and expanded the systems for 2017 and will continue to work closely together to build the best systems for new church plants in their ongoing partnership.

Jared Bellan, Church Planting Director of CityReach Network, is excited for what is coming next.

“For the planter, it has helped them to have quality sound equipment that has every item they need to launch strong.”

And he feels honored to work with the consultants and designers from Church in a Box®.

“Everyone at Church in a Box® is trying to make it easier for planting churches. They know that most important are people – because church planting is more about people.”

If you will be launching a new campus or church plant, click here to check out  the A/V packages that were designed for CityReach Network and are available to anyone.

Ready to discuss options for an A/V or Full System Package for your church plant or multisite launch? Call us today at 800.939.7722.

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