3 Advantages of Being a Portable Church

For our From the Front Lines series, we asked several pastors to share the stories of their church plants. These pastors will be checking in online with regular updates on their churches and experiences, allowing readers a front-row seat to the ins and outs of church planting.

Storyline Fellowship: Update No. 4

When my wife and I were newly married, we moved into a tiny apartment. When I say tiny, I mean two rooms and a bathroom. There were no corners for clutter, and we definitely didn’t drop much cash on furniture. Though the space felt confining at times, it did cause motivate to get outside to play tennis, to enjoy afternoon walks and to linger long over chips ’n salsa at the local dive. We made the most of our situation and now look back on that season with fondness.

Fast-forward 15 years, and we now find ourselves fostering that same mentality in our church. Storyline Fellowship is a 20-month-old plant, with no place to keep our things. We live out of trailers and rented spaces, and yet—we are rediscovering that lean living has its advantages. It’s all in how you look at it!

Here are three advantages to being a portable church.

1. Manual labor creates meaningful friendships among believers.

Every Sunday morning at 6 a.m., the trailers roll up to the school where we have church, and a team of volunteers roll up their sleeves. These people push and pull, stack and scoot. For three solid hours, this work creates the space for inside jokes to be made and a sense of accomplishment to be felt. One day, this weekly project will go away and I know we’ll miss it. Our team is making memories and learning each other’s stories.

2. Manual labor creates a meaning place for spiritual explorers to serve.

Many people who walk through our doors in Denver have never been to church in their lives. They are interested in knowing more about Christianity. They feel drawn to the warmth of community, but they feel intimidated because they have no biblical knowledge. One of the best ways to honor the unchurched person is to ask him or her to help out! We’ve seen God “set the hook” in many lives through the sense of dignity received by being genuinely useful. By hanging a sign or taping down a cord, a common ground is found between seasoned Christians and spiritual seekers.

3. Minus a building, we keep it simple.

In my last church, we had rooms galore—a sprawling campus with on-site educational space. As a result, we received constant requests for use of the spaces. Sometimes, this was a blessing, as we saw ministries birthed that truly made a difference. Other times, we allowed ministries to launch without excellence and purpose—someone’s “wild idea” that was still half-baked. Being portable makes it easy to say, “Sorry, we can’t do that right now … we just don’t have the space.” Conversation over.

At Storyline, we strive for programmatic simplicity so that our people have time to invest in their unchurched friends and neighbors. While being portable can feel limiting at times, it can also be quite liberating.

Read more from Ben Mandrell and Storyline Fellowship »

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Ben Mandrell
Ben Mandrell

Ben Mandrell is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to joining LifeWay, he pastored churches in Colorado and Tennessee.