4 tips for challenges faced by portable churches

Let’s face it – finding a venue is tough.

For many churches around the world the prospect of sharing a community or school hall is a reality every week. Offering church services of a specific standard when in a shared venue has all sorts of challenges – here are a few that the author has experienced in a number of churches in the area.  These range from the simple to the highly techical – hopefully there is a useful bite in here for you.

Pack-in, soundcheck and pack-out takes time

Setting up for a church service can take a tremendous amount of equipment, from the mundane (like chairs) to the technical (sound desk, snakes) to the unwieldy (drum risers, curtains etc).  All of this takes a lot of time from your volunteers and staff members (if any).  MindMyMinistry can make volunteer scheduling a lot easier because everyone will automatically be reminded when they are rostered on to help at a service.

Storage space on-site (or not)

During the week all your equipment has to reside somewhere secure – tens of thousands of dollars worth of “stuff” can’t just be lying around!  If you are lucky you may have secured a venue that offers on-site secure storage, but in the case of school halls and many other places, this situation can be rare.

An alternative to on-site storage can be a large furniture trailer which can be put in a secure lock-up storage yard.  For sensitive electronics such as your sound desk, projector, amps and other AV equipment, it is recommended to get a lock-up garage so that the trailer is not out in the sun all day.

Venue equipment reliability

Let’s say it’s the morning of your service – you arrive on site, pull down the projection screen, and the projector just doesn’t work.  The author has seen this situation all too frequently – ranging in venues from school halls to even lecture theatres!  If you have the budget for it, it would be useful to keep a small spare projector handy, otherwise things can become pretty challenging, not to mention the stress it puts on your volunteers.

Wear and tear

An aspect often overlooked is protecting the gear.  Speakers, amps, cables and even your mixing console can take quite a lot of punishment when being packed in and out every week.  For this reason many churches opt to go for heavy duty road cases on wheels.

For analog sound desks you can even get a multi-pin connector on the outside of your road case to avoid having to plug and unplug 32 XLR connectors (or whatever size your desk is) – saving time and wear on the equipment.  For the lucky ones among us you may even have a digital desk that uses a CAT5 snake and a single connector.

Wireless microphones (and even wireless in-ear monitor systems) can be a great help here, reducing the number of cables on stage and between stage and mix position.

Finally, get insurance!  You never know when it might rain into your trailer, or someone drops a road case while unloading – these events can be extremely expensive.

 

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