The way you treat your volunteers and the way they feel about serving will greatly impact the success, discipleship, spiritual formation, community impact and long-term growth of your church.
The truth is, existing in a rented space is not the glass half empty version of your church. But, your attitude and approach make all the difference.
Attitude towards portability
Some church leaders view launching portably as a problem. Others treat it as an opportunity. The difference between a problem and an opportunity is what we do with it.
You can either purposefully launch in a portable venue to minimize overhead and maximize care for your volunteers and be in the thick of your community. Where potential volunteers see that portability is Plan A and get excited to join into the work and community that comes with it serving.
Or be a church plant that meets in a school and regularly apologizes to the setup volunteers and thanks to them for their hard work and sacrifice, saying “Someday we will have our own building; we just have to survive until then.” Pleas from the stage for volunteers are frequent and new attendees feel guilty if they don’t take their turn at setup. Images of being a martyr and the attitude of “It’s thankless work, but we’ll receive our reward in heaven.” Essentially communicating to your volunteers that it is not worth it.
Churches with the first attitude that treats portability as an opportunity can be in a position to have ministry impact that most permanent churches can’t. And churches with a negative attitude will create a cycle of volunteer burn out that will be damaging to your church health overall.
Approach towards portability
It turns out that the same principles that apply to recruit and equip 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.
Therefore, portable churches need to develop an extra layer of structure, leadership, processes and care specific to setup and tear-down to maximize an efficient approach to portability.
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.
How many volunteers do you need to effectively set up and tear down? It depends on the complexity of your worship setup, the number 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 that works with for the team they have. One approach more often used 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. This way, volunteers don’t miss church, the team is strengthened, and the transition of adding a second service is easier.
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, set up strategies, and staffing.