In our effort to learn all we can as we get set to launch Mt Paran North Canton, I set up some visits to a few churches that had been recommended to me, and that do portable church in schools.
Our first visit was to Bridgepointe Church. They meet in Woodstock High School, and have been portable since their launch about 7 years ago.
Our team met at the school at 6am since they begin load in at that point in order to be ready for their 2 worship services. Shelley Davis, the Pastoral Assistant and First Impressions Director, hosted us for the day, and was amazing. She answered all of our questions, connected us to their key ministry and team leaders, and was so gracious to allow us to get in their way. Pastor Mat Garcia has been at Bridgepointe since January, and spent some quality time with me after the services that day talking about launching new churches, the pros and cons of portable church, and his philosophy of pastoral leadership. Kristen Terrette hosted us in the children’s area, and we were so impressed with her heart for kids, and her ability to set up, set up, set up…and then turn on a smile and energy for the kids upon their arrival.
Here were some of our takeaways from the visit.
- Your setup process can’t be entirely relationally based, it must be systematic. If your setup and tear down is based on “Joe” and the fact that “Joe” always has 3 or 4 guys that help him, what happens if “Joe” gets sick or leaves on vacation…you’re scrambling. You must be systematic in how your process works. That way your process is dependent on “Joe”.
- Setup and Tear down can’t just be an add on, it has to be a vital part of your ministry philosophy in portable church world. You need to focus on staffing it, funding it, and investing in the people that do it.
- You can get really creative. Just because you need some pipe and drape to cover a wall or an area, doesn’t mean you have to buy the same black or colored drape to go on a pipe. Bridgepointe made custom drapes for their children’s areas out of multicolored sheets and blankets in a patch work kind of thing…it looked amazing, and added so much to these areas. Another example: when they needed another children’s space, they didn’t rent another classroom for more money, they utilized a space they were already paying for…the end of a hallway. They created some really great intentional space for their 3 year olds at the end of the hallway they were already paying rent for.
- It’s in the details. When they arrive they take up the school welcome mats and put down Bridgepointe Church mats. They have a plastic trashcan of umbrellas set up by the door every week (not just the weeks it’s forecast to rain) just in case. It’s a part of their normal set up. I didn’t fill out a visitor card, but I checked my kids in…I still received a visitor’s letter from Mat thanking me for my visit. The children’s pastor told us the portable snap and go screens shrink if they are stored on the trailer in wintertime because of the cold, so they store them somewhere else in those months.
We learned that you can do portable church, or you can do church with excellence in a portable location.
Thanks to Bridgepointe for hosting us, and allowing us to learn from your experiences. It allows us to start farther down the road, and that’s huge. That’s the Kingdom!