Principles of Portability – #1 Consider the Weight
February 3, 2021

Launching a church is always filled with excitement! Setting up portably and weekly can and should be fun. However building the right system to keep volunteers engaged and set up fun is big challenge. This 6 part blog series dives into the top (and most important) things to consider before going portable. While there are many more things to consider, these are the top of the list that we look at while designing the industries most efficient and intelligent systems. We have outlined these in even greater detail in our free eBook – 6 Principles of Portability. So let’s dive in with the first principle! 

Principle 1: Consider the Weight

Equipment choice is a crucial piece of being portable. There are numerous things to consider regarding each piece of gear, and one of the big things to pay attention to is the actual physical weight of all the gear you’re buying. The first church plant I was on staff with I bought cheaper outdoor signs that ended up weighing so much. It was the one thing that I ended up bringing in every week as no one wanted to touch them. While weight may seem like an obvious consideration, all the reasons may not be as obvious. Here are 3 top weight considerations (most people completely overlook the third one).

Efficiency

The reality of how much something weighs will determine if people can (or want to) pick move and up the equipment you buy. If it requires an extra person to set-up or move it, that takes that person away from other areas. If you have to get special dollies or lifts and wheel it everywhere, that also really slows you down and kills your efficiency. Heavier objects require more effort which leads to more breaks which then leads to more set-up time and often burnout. 

Set up

If you end up with something that doesn’t have wheels and weighs 300 pounds, no one is going to want to set that up. Especially when you are setting up in the winter or if there is bad weather, unloading a beast like that would be doubly bad. As much as those in your church may wish they were in peak physical condition, you likely aren’t going to have a volunteer team that is stacked with body builders. You need to make sure the weight of your gear is something an average person can set up and use.

We’ve been called in many times to create safer system for volunteers too. Blown knees, hernias, etc… we’ve seen it all and every church tells us to use them as an example. Making sure you choose lightweight and safe equipment shows that you’ll go the extra mile to take care of the men & women that will be communally setting up and tearing down your equipment on a weekly basis. That kind of care translates into less volunteer burnout and better volunteer ownership. 

Trailer

The most neglected consideration is your mobile church trailer weight capacity. Start by checking your trailers load limit… This limit includes the weight of the trailer. For example a 10,000 pound load capacity after removing the 3,500 pounds of the trailer itself leaves only 6,400 pounds of additional weight. Add the weight of the trailer, your cases, and then all the items you put inside of your cases. Before you know it your trailer is over it’s limit. That puts your drivers and others on the road in danger. So when choosing gear, every pound matters and churches find it easy to go over that weight. Because of this, at Portable Church® we use a plywood for our cases that cuts 30% of weight out over typical plywood and the weight of every piece of gear is considered. This allows for more gear and more environments to be stored! 

Here are some good questions to ask when thinking through all of this:

  • What is a realistic amount that (1) man can carry?
  • How much are the (4) wheels (on my case) rated to carry?
  • What is the weight of my storage case empty? 
  • How much does my storage case weigh with the equipment inside of it? 
  • If this weight exceeds what is reasonable for (1) man, how many men can reasonably carry this item? 
  • Can this equipment (storage) case be safely maneuvered by (1) man? 
  • How much can my trailer (or box truck) carry? 
  • Can this item, at its weight, be safely lifted over someone’s head? 
  • How high do we need to lift this item to place it in the storage vehicle? Can we do this safely?
  • Will people WANT to move this week after week? 

All of these questions might not pertain to you, but you can see how weight plays a pivotal role in not only choosing your storage / transportation method, but also in determining the make/model and type of equipment you will purchase for your portable church.

At Portable Church® this is just one of many dozens of things that go into designing an intelligent system. The signs I mentioned earlier are just one example. When I joined PCI three years later I saw the same sign but less than half the weight. As a leader in the church I realized the money I saved up front carried a much longer term cost overall.

Other Portability Resources

Principle #2 – Measure of Cubic Volume

*This summary is taken from our e-book 6 Principles of Portability. Download the e-book here for more detail and the other 5 principles.  Have questions, reach out to one of our church launch coaches here!