HOW DOES A CHURCH THAT MEETS IN A MIDDLE SCHOOL TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
Seaside Community Church of Huntington Beach is a congregation that gathers each week in a unique ocean-side location in southern California as they have for more than two decades. However, when a building deal fell through unexpectedly, their land-locked, middle-school location made it challenging to accomplish their goals. Their big vision? To effectively reach their community and build the ministry of service.
Their solution – an efficiency and atmosphere upgrade with Portable Church Industries (PCI) – was just what they needed to position their church to continue to thrive.
Sam Knutsen has seen it all at Seaside. Ever since his father and a friend launched the church almost 20 years ago, Sam has served in some way in the congregation that presently ministers to about 450 people each week.
Anything related to computers, web, media and presentation, technology, and Sunday set-up and take-down has involved Sam in some way. With help from David Merrick, Sam became the point-person for Seaside’s partnership with PCI.
It was a partnership that came at just the right time for the tight-knit Seaside family.
The church has been meeting at Sowers Middle School for the entire time of its existence, since February of 1996, starting in classrooms before moving where they gather now in a larger lunchroom area. But in 2015, the church thought that perhaps the time had come to secure a permanent facility.
Sam Knuset of Seaside Community Church
Watch below as Sam tells how Seaside Community Church partnered with PCI
A UNIQUE VISION CHALLENGE
Although there has always been some level of desire to be in a permanent building,
And that is when they reached out to Portable Church Industries.
Watch Sam Describe Seaside’s Unique Challenge
A UNIQUE SURFSIDE CULTURE
The goal in talking with PCI wasn’t only to make the middle school a nicer place to meet, but to better reach the
As Knutsen describes it, “It’s a very close community, not a lot of commuter people. It is a surfer community and a beach community. The church is a mile and a half from the ocean maybe, so everything is very casual.”
For example, their youth group meets outside under trees. Sometimes they use a canopy. Other times the teens wrap in blankets as they worship when the temperatures dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit – a truly cold day for them.
It might not work in Minnesota, but it has worked well for almost 20 years at Seaside.
Watch Sam Explain the Unique Seaside Culture
A UNIQUE MEETING PLACE FOR JUNIOR HIGH MINISTRY
The Junior High ministry at Seaside meets in a storage container that does double duty.
During the week, it sits on the school property and houses church equipment, but on Sunday it converts into a trendy cargo container in which the young teens can gather.
Watch Sam talk about their unique youth locations
A UNIQUE SYSTEMS SITUATION
Unlike most churches that contact PCI, Seaside already had a pretty good system that had been developed over their two decades of ministry. The congregation had volunteered their skills to create sturdy storage cabinets, for example, and a plywood stage that was durable, but very heavy.
To make the situation more challenging, the team was transporting a lot of the equipment in a 20-foot box truck. That meant it all had to be lifted or run up and down a steep ramp.
THE UNIQUE ADVANTAGES OF UPGRADING
PCI did not come in and tell the team at Seaside to throw everything out. Far from it.
They worked alongside the Seaside team to discern what should stay and what should go. And they brought a lot of fresh ideas that came from working with over 2,500 churches.
Joe (from PCI) came out to Seaside for the weekend. He observed, took pictures, and watched them work with their old system. Then he wrote a 45-page itemized proposal integrating some of their existing systems.
How Did the Process Actually Work?
TWO KEY BENEFITS OF THE UPGRADE
As someone in charge of presentation and logistics, two upgrades stand out to Sam the most.
First, the lighting upgrades PCI installed have transformed the secular school space into a more intimate environment conducive to worship.
The fluorescent lighting in the school felt more like an office setting, and they couldn’t dim the lights. Seaside had stage lights and could light up the people on stage with spotlights, but when they turned off the fluorescent lights, people couldn’t read their Bibles.
After the upgrade, the windows are now blocked as needed with curtains to control the light from outside. And the new LED lighting system enables them to light up the room and adjust the lighting as needed, allowing them to control the feeling and the mood of the morning.
The second upgrade that most excited Sam was the clarity of the new system.
The biggest problem they had before with tear-down was that it went really fast, because everyone was hungry for lunch. But that meant the team would be digging for stuff the next Sunday that didn’t always get put in the right place.
Even if they don’t put it in the right cubby, now I can say, Hey, this is sound equipment, put it in this case. Even if it’s not on the right shelf, it’s pretty easy to find next Sunday when I need it.
The new system is very well laid out and easy to understand. There is a chart that says where every case goes and where everything goes in the case and where that case goes in the trailer.
See Sam Describe the Benefits of the Upgrade
THE UNIQUE IMPACT OF AN EFFICIENCY UPGRADE
Perhaps the greatest impact of the upgrade was that it empowered Seaside to keep moving forward in focused ministry.
Not only has the actual set-up and take-down process gotten easier to use for everyone – even the first-time volunteer — it no longer depends on a “specialist”, the one or two people who must be there to make sure everything gets set up properly.
And the culture of the church has been upgraded as well with the renewed focus on creating an inviting and welcoming environment. With the changes they made with PCI, Knutsen says they are “putting their best foot forward to reach the community.”
“I definitely felt like Portable Church really had a good understanding of what churches that are portable really need.”
Watch Sam’s advice to Churches Thinking about an Efficiency Upgrade
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