by Dave Travis: “I can’t wait until we are in our own building.”
Not so fast. This statement is heard a lot among church planters and campus pastors who are currently in portable facilities.
It is easy to get fatigued running the week in, week out, load in and load out of using another facility.
But our upcoming research report, sponsored by our friends at Portable Church Industries, shows that those that congregations using portable facilities grow faster than those with “their own building.”
Almost half of the new sites and church plants are in portable facilities and they are growing faster than those in permanent buildings. So be careful what you wish for.
Why is this?
First, remember our bias is to survey growing and thriving churches. In this instance, we were comparing the types of facilities among growing and thriving churches in our sample.
Our hunches as to why this is happening:
Church plants and sites in portable facilities show faster growth because they are new. This is some of it.
I always felt that portable churches drew more pioneers who built longer, deeper roots over time of engagement with a new campus or church. The participants felt more engaged because it appeared to be a greater sacrifice to be involved in a portable situation.
I have heard stories told by many larger portable-minded churches and sites on how it helps build a cadre of people, young and old, who form permanent work team bonds over time. In fact, when the church gets into a permanent facility many of these servants disappear because their gifts and skills seem less valued in the “new place.”
Churches can use multiple spaces over the years before they move into a more permanent space. Rick Warren always tells me they were in several thousand spaces before they built their first building. (He is a known exaggerator, I think it was 72 ) And now Saddleback still uses many non-permanent spaces for its sites. But by starting in one location and rented facility, and then moving to a larger facility and perhaps then again gives the appearance in the community of momentum and vitality. “God must be doing something over there because they have to keep moving to keep up!”
And those that keep changing space also tend to keep marketing and announcing their “new” location(s) which keeps outsiders noticing that church.
With the great new customization options of portability, the spaces can appear fresher and are more flexible to growth than permanent facilities. And when a portable church keeps it fresh as they grown, the appearance factor stays current. Permanent facilities can feel dated very quickly.
Portable is usually a bit less expensive than permanent construction, allowing new sites and churches invest more in ministries not related to a building to continue to grow the church.
There are also great arguments for permanent facilities as well when it comes to longevity and stability. I am not downplaying those. But our research study will report how portably campuses and sites tend to grow faster than those that are in permanent structures.
To get on the list for the report when released, click below: