Portable churches are a relatively new concept. Consider hundreds of years ago, the church’s steeple topped the tallest building in small-town America. Having church in a school or theater was extremely rare, and maybe non-existent.
Not only was the church one of the tallest and most prominent buildings in town, but most one-room schoolhouses or theaters were significantly smaller than the church itself, making alternative spaces unusable, even in an emergency.
Fast forward to today and consider the number of churches who use portable spaces for worship; church plants, satellite campuses, and churches in transition between selling a smaller building and building a bigger building. If your church is in a portable space, this is an exciting time of being intentionally lean with costs, keeping expenses and repairs at a minimum. You’ll also have the challenge of creating a space that feels like ‘you’, even though it’s owned by someone else, and set up within a few hours.
While you probably don’t have the permissions (or the time) to repaint, reface and add permanent signage to your space, you’ll want to consider the 3 areas that will have the biggest impact to make your space feel less like a school or theater and more like your space. These 3 areas are outside of the building, in your entrance and hallways, in the auditorium.
9 Simple Portable Church Ideas to make your space feel unique
Cover anything that feels like the space you’re in
If you’re in a school, cover the “trophy case” or put up pipe and drape curtains over the “alumni” pictures or lockers that usually line school walls. When someone walks into your space initially, remove the “I’m at a school” thoughts (since we all “loved” being at school) and create your own environment.
If you’re at a movie theater, see if you can move the 8-foot cardboard cutout of the latest action hero and replace it with a roll-up banner with your logo.
Use music to create an atmosphere
Some locations will allow you to tap into speakers built into the ceiling, while in other locations, you may choose to invest in some Bluetooth speakers or a portable stereo and stream from a phone. The type of music you choose will create anticipation for what to expect. Upbeat music creates excitement. Mellow jazz or elevator music creates space for conversations. With either option, you’ll be creating a unique environment for your space.
In a portable church space, wayfinding signage is not only valuable for your first-time guests but also your regular members because changes happen week to week.
For instance, if the classroom where the preschoolers usually meet had a leak last week, and for the next 3 weeks, they’ll be in a different location, use your signage to show that.
When someone drives onto your parking lot, have a sign that shows which entrance you’re using. At their first step through the door, have signage showing arrows to the restrooms, classrooms, meeting rooms and auditorium.
If there are any turns in the hallway or stairwells, have signage showing directions for each turn and a sign on or near the doorway to each space you’re using.
To limit confusion in navigating your space, turn off the lights and close the doors to any unused spaces. Have stanchions blocking access to unused stairwells or hallways so your guests don’t get lost in the process of visiting your church, and add signage to the top of the stanchions pointing people to where they may have missed a turn.
Logo, Logo, Logo
Be sure your logo is on all of your signage – Parking lot sandwich boards, feather flags, welcome signs, wayfinding signs, and classroom signs. Have your logo on your screens before, during, and after service. Usually, we don’t recommend going to “Disneyland” with your logo (where Mickey Mouse ears appear everywhere) but in a portable space, you’ve got to really drive home your visual impact.
“Yes, you found us!” Signs
Not literally saying “Yes, you found us!”, but your guests (and members) need to know they’ve arrived at the right place when they get to the parking lot. Have feather flags in your colors including your church name and logo, sandwich boards on the nearest major intersection with arrows pointing to your location and signage pointing to the exact entrance you’d like people to use.
Accessorize your space
- Add 2 or 3 patio sets outside your doors with an umbrella, topped with a small plant.
- Add throw pillows in your logo color to existing seats and benches in your entrance space.
- Use roll-up signs with just your logo, not necessarily wayfinding purposes, to say ‘Welcome to our church’.
- Use removable sticky hooks to add canvases with your core values, current series, or pictures of people in your church. These can cover other wall decorations or things that may remind a visitor of the original building.
- Use lamps instead of the ceiling fluorescent lighting in your entrance area
Use Neutral Colors for signage
You probably aren’t choosing your portable space based on the wall color and flooring type, so having your orange signage next to a green or purple wall may create a distracting contrast. Explore options with the ChurchBanners.com design team to use greys and whites for a majority of your indoor signage while still showing your logo in full color.
If your portable church space happens to match with your logo colors, then go all out with your colors to create a cohesive environment.
Have a clear “Information Center” location
Having a clearly marked central location creates a simple pivot point for these next steps.
Make this space REALLY obvious with a pair of roll up banners, a table throw, a tension banner or a combination to be sure that it’s clear where and how to get more information when a guest needs it.
Fill all 5 positions on your first impressions team
Seeing someone smiling in the parking lot holding a welcome sign, meeting a friendly face at the door and finding a mint when someone needs it are all experiences that are going to be unique to your church, not a school or a movie theatre. Many churches have a few of these positions filled, but the most successful churches have all 5 of these players on their first impressions team. Our free ebook tells about the 5 players you need on your first impressions team and the type of personality that you can recruit to perfectly serve in each of these positions. Click here to download our free ebook: Huddle Up
Ready to get our team designing your banners for your portable church? Click here to get started!