Monday, September 05, 2005

The Nomadic Church

Bill Easum and Pete Theodore

Unleashing the church-in-a-box involves setting up a seemingly endless list of essential equipment that a stationary church might easily take for granted: sound systems, speakers, staging, video projectors, portable screens, musical instruments, risers, pulpits, Christian education supplies, lights, folding chairs, meeting tables, sign-in stations, drama sets, carpets, clocks, curtains and dividers, communion tables, banners, plants, literature kiosks, refreshment centres, resource carts, information booths, and more. Adding to the strain is that some of these items must be set up in several places for the different ministries spread throughout the facility. We observed people at one church assemble six different projection systems for different groups. At New Hope in O'ahu, an overflow room requires setting up extremely large systems for crowds up to six hundred in number.

In addition, people engage in various aspects of assembling nursery areas, arranging multiple classrooms, posting internal and external directional signs, and making many other facility enhancements. Since some sites are regularly dirty and cluttered when the facility crew arrives (move theatres are among the worst offenders), a few busy themselves vacuuming, mopping, picking up trash, wiping down sinks, and doing other forms of cleaning. The longer it takes to complete their tasks, the more the church has to pay for the space, and the harder it is to attract new helpers.

It’s almost a joke at some Nomadic Churches. You can tell who’s on the facility crew by the sweat on their foreheads. Because of the demands, replacements don’t eagerly ‘line up’ to cover for them. Especially when the church is newer, most facility workers are part of the faithful core who fill more than one ministry role. Later on, some churches find it necessary to pay a facility co-ordinator in order to keep someone in the demanding position of overseeing this whole process each week.

When we inquired about the average tenure of a set-up/breakdown worker, one facility co-ordinator told us with a wink, ‘Until they burn out!’ He further noted, ‘There’s usually a new guy to train.’ Perhaps this issue can best be summarised by one written response to our question about how many people assist in set-up and breakdown, ‘Too few. This is an ongoing challenge!’

From chapter 4 of The Nomadic Church – growing your congregation without owning the building, published by Abingdon 2005
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