Is your church a portable church? You know, the one you have to set up every Sunday morning, and tear down right after because there is something else happening in the building you are renting? My church began in the common area of an apartment, moved to a hotel, then moved to a movie theater before finally having a building of our own. I was a kids ministry volunteer during those movie theater years, and it was always interesting. Week to week, we didn’t know if we were going to have to move theaters or tear down early because there was a movie showing at 12:05 and church was over at 12:00. Many of the resources we used called for supplies that we didn’t necessarily have on hand in our boxes that had to be packed up and put in a trailer each week. And there’s no place to make photocopies at a movie theater!
There are some lessons that I learned while teaching in a portable church:
1. Preparing ahead is extremely important. There’s no resource room to fall back on, so if your game calls for 6 ping pong balls, you better know that ahead of time!
2. Set boundaries for your space. Running up and down the stairs and through the rows of the movie theater was a big temptation for the kids at my church. In a non-traditional setting, you have to establish boundaries for kids in order to keep things from spiraling out of control.
3. Assign specific set up and tear down tasks to volunteers. After a while, every portable church will get into a rhythm of set up and tear down. When you add volunteers who aren’t in that rhythm, make sure you give them specific tasks: "Can you roll the carpets and move them into the loading zone for the trailer?"
4. Don’t let the "temporary-ness" of your location keep you from investing in the spiritual development of kids. As churches are planted, many times kids ministry is an after-thought, but there has to be a plan for spiritual development in order for you to reach kids and families!
I want to hear about your portable churches. What is working well for you? What are your biggest issues? Are there needs that we at Lifeway Kids can help you with?