500 Weekends of being a portable church leader requires a calm voice!

This week we are looking at some lessons I’ve learned in leading churches in portable locations.  I’ve paid the stoopid tax … no need for you to!

Soon I will pass 500 weekends of leading portable churches . . . that’s somewhere over 2,300 individual Sunday’s that have been hosted by the campuses I’ve been directly involved in launching.   You know . . . the kind that set up and tear down every weekend.  Over the last 10 years or so I’ve been helping churches launch and start portable over the long haul.  I’m going to assume that we don’t have to talk about the great kingdom advantages of being portable.  If you’re not portable . . . you should be.  😉 [Click here to read a recent article I was interviewed for about being a mobile ministry leader.]

This week we’re going to be talking about some of the critical lessons that I’ve learn.  These lessons have been from mostly mistakes that I’ve made . . . rather than from any brilliant insight sought out front.  Each one of these lessons has a bit of pain and sweat behind it to work it into my style and approach.

The biggest factor in making you successful church leader within a portable church context is a calm voice.  You need to come to the  weekend calm . . . exuding “it’s going to be ok” to your people . . . even when on the inside you are falling a part or wondering if we are ever going to get the service started.

This has been tested in me over the years . . . here is a sample of the sort craziness that have pushed my ability to be calm:

  • The Sunday that we got a call that the trailer that pulls our stuff had blown it’s tires and was stuck on the side of the freeway.  Unable to make it in time.  New plan: move church to a local park!
  • All kinds of broken equipment . . . like the Sunday one of our amazing Roadies dropped a speaker from on top of a stand to off the stage.  Apparently speakers don’t like to be dropped 15+ feet.  😉
  • Sharing space with another organizations is always fun!   Whether it’s the latest Harry Potter mega release at a movie theater or the Hindu wedding complete with a massive Vishnu shrine in the lobby of the hotel or even just the local indoor soccer league iching to get in . . . I always see these intrusions as a chance to get to know people from the community.
  • Weather is always a factor.  From ice coated steep driveways where you need to load stuff . . . or sweltering heat so thick you have to chew your air on the way down . . . to snow drifts so deep that your Roadies spend the first hour just digging out the drive way to get into the place you meet at!

The reality is that when we pick a portable approach to ministry for our churches there are some inherent risks that a more “permanent” approach to church doesn’t have.  But on the whole I think those risks are outweighed by the benefits.  But when we’re having a particularly challenging Sunday of being portable . . . these are thoughts that go through my mind and soul:

  • God has called us to the mission.  This vision is bigger than what we are facing right now.
  • Our people are more important than any given Sunday. In the end I want our people to know that they are a bigger deal than whatever problem is ahead of us.
  • Problems are inherent in anything worth purusing. Sometimes important things are just tough.
  • There’s always next week. Really . . . even if it’s a real train wreak we have 7 days to make sure next Sunday isn’t.  😉

Are you a portable church leader?  I’d love to hear from you!  [Let’s share some war stories!]


  1. Great post, Rich. I wonder how much the average person attending (who is not involved in set-up/tear-down) appreciates about what has gone on behind the curtain. And I also love the chance to interact with the staff at the theatre we rent (who are, in your words, people of the community). Looking forward to the rest of this series.

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