Five Portable Church Tips
Each week myself and other members from our team join forces with 1000's of other volunteers around the country, and even the world, to set up their mobile churches. Mobile churches, much like the touring A/V companies, have a huge task ahead of them each week. Taking a blank slate like a gymnasium, or an old dusty school auditorium, and transforming it into an unique space that allows people to encounter God.
No matter what religion you are or what space you have to set up in the same basic concepts can be applied and greatly help your week-to-week flow.
1. Have a "home" for everything.
As I started helping a local church with their production on a weekly basis I quickly realized that nothing was more frustrating than looking for something, thinking you knew where it was, and then coming up empty handed. Not only is this frustrating to your volunteers who are spending their precious free time setting up but it is a huge time waster. It is easy to go buy a small label maker and spend time labeling each rack, case, or tote with what is supposed to be in it, on it, and the quantity.
2. Train your volunteers.
People genuinely want to help. If you, as a leader, train them well guess what they're going to do? Help! The only problem with this is that they might not know what they're doing and they might be potentially causing more work for you than they are helping. It is simple to spend one or two weeks having a new volunteer follow around a more experienced volunteer to learn the ropes before they are set to sail the open seas of church production on their own.
3. Utilize empty road cases.
I have heard them called "deads" or labeled as "MT" (Empty, haha) but cases that are empty are a hinderance to those setting up and it takes too much time to roll them back out to the trailer or whatever storage method you are using each week. It slows down productivity and can honestly be a hazard as people are frantically working. Hide them behind a stage curtain or, heck, use them as a stage piece to set moving head lights on or just to add a different look.
4. Take time to label your cables.
Right along with the point of making sure everything has it's place comes an entirely different level of organization. Cable's can look similar but have totally different purposes. For example, 3 pin DMX and XLR cables look the same but the job that they perform is completely different. That is why it is utterly important that you develop a plan to label your cables by time and length and then store them the same way. This doesn't have to be rocket surgery but it does need to be functional.
5. A safe volunteer is a good volunteer.
Safety is the core of what we do in production. There are too many things happening at warp speed and accidents happen in the blink of an eye. That is why it is super important to stress the simple things like making sure your volunteers wear closed toe shoes, understand the basics of electricity, gaffing and cable routing, and so on. I embrace the concept that everyone is a safety enforcer. It doesn't matter if you're a 15 year old that is just learning lighting--if you see something that looks unsafe tell someone. It's better to feel a little embarrassed for saying something when there wasn't an issue than it is to not say anything and potentially risk the life, or lives, of those around you.
These are just a few examples of what we have learned in the mobile church industry. If you are a church and are struggling to make the impact that you want through A/V, contact our M3 division for some of the most knowledgeable and passionate people in the midwest.