When Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, TN, prepared to launch their sixth active campus, they were compelled to use a portable rather than permanent space. Much of the decision was made on value-based strategies that have been adopted over years of being a great multisite church. Renting is cheaper than leasing. And ministry can expand faster when not in a lengthy construction process that brick and mortar demands.
Josh Whitehead, Executive Pastor, has helped to lead five “successful” campus launches as a part of their multisite journey. Along that journey they chose to go “DIY” in rented facilities – and that experiment resulted in many frustrations and difficulties. In one case, the process was bad enough that the trajectory as a multisite church was threatened and the idea and practice of portability was abandoned altogether. The expense and lengthy timeframe to occupy a permanent facility seemed to be an easier default than the quick and economical portable option.
“DIY is not a high-quality culture.”
Josh didn’t want any of the problems they’d seen before to happen again. No jerry-rigging of equipment; no more volunteers waiting around for instruction because there wasn’t a place for things to go or clear instruction on what to do next. For him, “good enough” didn’t work, wasn’t getting Faith Promise to its goals, and had become a barrier to Kingdom building.
Josh now knew what didn’t work. Yet he also knew that they needed to bring the Gospel into new communities faster. And indeed he’d heard and seen great things could come in a portable setting. He just needed to put his finger on how to get there.
Making church feel like home
Josh is also a Director with Leadership Network, where he has spent years helping churches create and launch their multisite strategies. While in this role, he was in close proximity to one of the Leadership Network Strategic Partners, Portable Church Industries. With a Portable Church system, two things were done incredibly well: capturing the vision and setting up a way to do Faith Promise things – in a portable site.
In terms of designing and preparing for the use of a space, “Going portable is the same [procedure] as going permanent. It’s just a different creative team.” Instead of contractors, they had PCI engineers. Instead of architects, they had PCI portability designers.
Tonja Breaux helped launch the new campus at Farragut High School and is part of their staff. “It doesn’t feel like a school. It’s our church, our home, our worship center.” She attributes this to the pipe and drape, lighting, and other designs that transform the school into a place of worship.
A system that works for volunteers
In their first portable church setup, one they eventually pulled the plug on, Josh recalls spending three hours getting everything ready. But after volunteers were trained on the new Faith Promise system by PCI consultants, volunteers had been walked carefully through each detail. They got back much of their Sunday time!
Now, they spend only one hour and 15 minutes – and that’s to set up across two buildings, including everything from easy kids and community areas to the bigger worship setup. It’s a larger, more complex system than most portable churches.
“Portable Church has created something that can be done well and effectively – that values volunteers.”
The best part about their Farragut campus portable system is that they’ve seen ownership grow exponentially higher and greater in their portable campus than anywhere else.
“The system promotes ownership. People arrive to church early, before anyone gets there. They just start working because they know what to do. The training leads to preparedness. It’s a natural flow, done right.”
A system better than DIY
Faith Promise has made a lot of tough but great choices. They envision being near people. With their multisite planning, that means to find the right place – the right community – to be there. And “good enough” wasn’t good enough.
“Being permanent – or portable – is not a driving force of our vision… it is to have a presence in the community and make a difference.”