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Principles of Portability – #2 Measure Cubic Volume

By Portable Church Industries:

If you are starting a church, there are so many things to consider you may not even know where to start…

When purchasing equipment for your portable church, with all the financial pressures a church planter faces, it is easy to focus only on economics. In truth, your equipment purchases must not only reflect the creativity, vision, and personality of your new plant or campus, but the equipment must also be safe, efficient, professional and easy to use.

We have found the equipment purchases for new churches to be simultaneously the most exciting and stressful times in the church launch experience. As such, we hope to ease some of that stress by explaining the different aspects of making sure that your equipment is as portable as possible. Including the importance of cubic volume and ease of setting up and tear down.

If your new church (or new campus) is going to be in a rented facility like a school, movie theatre, art museum, community center, etc – it will be imperative to make sure that your equipment will pack up & move out easily, is light enough to install easily and can handle the consistent packing and unpacking, road noise and travel.

The Cubic Volume Conundrum – a ratio of space to cost


Let’s say you are purchasing chairs for your new church. You have found one that is relatively comfortable (comfortable enough, at least, to get you through a forty-five-minute sermon), it’s padded, it stacks and it’s even lightweight – making it perfect for your volunteers. The cost of this chair? Only $20 per chair. You want to purchase 225, and the price tag of $4500 fits the budget quite nicely.

The other chair you’re considering is considerably more expensive at $42 per chair. While the chair seems more sturdy and durable, you’ve not noticed anything considerably better about this chair than the other one. It has all the features of the other one – it’s lightweight, it’s stackable and it’s comfortable, but at a substantial additional $4950 more than the other chair, it doesn’t seem worth it. Is that additional cost really worth the durability?

Surprisingly, you may find consultants like us encouraging you towards the $42 chair. Economically, the choice is clear, so why would we encourage you towards the more expensive chair?

For an average church of 225 people, the cost per cubic foot of storage space is about $10 per cubic foot*

225 of the $20 chair takes up 600 cubic feet vs 225 of the $42 chair takes up 300 cubic feet


In our experience, we have found that the average church trailer is between 725 – 1010 cubic feet. A decision to purchase the inexpensive chair will use between 40% – 85% of your total storage space allotted for your all of your equipment purchases. In contrast, a decision to purchase the more expensive chair will use only 30% – 42% of the total storage space allotted.
If you can fit the rest of your church into 15% of your storage space – your choice is simple! Go with the least expensive option! If, however, you find yourself having to move into another trailer or another Konix container, or pay another monthly fee to store an additional trailer somewhere, in order to make space for your other equipment, the numbers could add up to over & above the initial +$4950 for the more expensive chair. That is the reason we might persuade you towards a more expensive chair, because in the long term, your more expensive chair could pay off in a variety of different ways, such as staying in your allotted storage space and keeping your storage space costs within budget.

More storage space leaves more room for additional equipment, helping you “flex” with people growth. One might argue that you can find a lightweight, comfortable chair for less than $42, but in our experience – durability is every bit as important as cubic volume considerations.

Storage costs can vary dramatically depending on your situation. Many churches purchase a trailer and park it somewhere for free. Others rent a trailer parking space. Some churches have access to onsite storage at the facility they rent. Whatever the case, make sure you understand the upfront and ongoing costs of storage so that you can evaluate the cubic volume impact of your equipment choices.

Other Portability Resources

Principle #1 – Consider the Weight

While we are on the topic of things to know when planning for portability, download our resource 6 Effective Principles for Portability for even more helpful information.

*This is based on Portable Church’s experience with churches across the nation, and is based on the average church trailer and / or storage space

Source: Principles of Portability – #2 Measure Cubic Volume