On Sunday, April 15th, Lead Pastor Michael Lehmann announced plans for Trinity Vineyard Church to leave our leased warehouse space on Knigge Cemetery Rd and begin meeting on Sunday mornings at Arnold Middle School. After several months of prayer, discussion and research, the staff and board of the church have agreed that “going mobile” is the right decision for our church. However, making such a major move brings up a lot of questions. Some of the most frequently asked questions are addressed below. If you have additional questions that aren’t covered here, please feel free to email us or to speak with one of our pastors.
Arnold Middle School
1111 Telge Rd
Cypress, TX 77429
(near the intersection of Telge and 290)
DATE & TIME
10:00AM on Sundays (Beginning mid-August - official date TBD)
WHAT MAKES THE SCHOOL A GOOD OPTION FOR TRINITY?
When comparing the school building to our current warehouse space, there are a few ways in which the school is far superior:
As the old saying goes, real estate is all about location, location, location. Church facilities are no different. A building that is difficult to find creates a hurdle for our guests. We have heard many stories of people who tried to visit our church, but couldn’t find us. Sometimes, they ended up at one of the neighboring churches and sometimes they just gave up and went home.
The middle school is in a great location just off of highway 290 and very visible. The entrance to the parking lot has a stop light, which serves as both a location marker (go to the first light and turn left) and will assist with traffic flow before and after services.
Any time you compare two locations, you have to take into account the facility itself. Are there plenty of restrooms? Is the building inviting? It is accessible to those with mobility issues?
On this front, the new location is a significant upgrade! Not only is the school in a great location, but it is a public building, which means it is fully handicap accessible. There are ample men’s and women’s restrooms. And lastly, the building itself is a newly-renovated facility which is seen by those in the community as a safe and trusted place.
One of the greatest challenges of our current facility is that we are regularly bumping up against capacity in one or more of the following ways:
Three years ago, we maxed out our kids’ space. At that time, we built out additional space in our building to create our new “Blast Wing” for kids, effectively increasing our kids capacity by about 40%. A year later, we had once again maxed out the new space. Our move to two services helped alleviate overcrowding in our kids’ rooms, but it continues to be a concern as we look to the future.
The middle school offers virtually unlimited amounts of kids space. While our initial setup will create rooms that can accommodate moderate growth, we have the ability at a future date to expand those spaces to accommodate many more kids at a time. Kids space should not be a problem at the school.
Because of the ratio of kids to adults in our church, we have rarely faced capacity issues in our adult space (because our kids’ space maxes out first). However, our adult attendance is such that, when combined into one service, we are nearly at capacity.
The school location will allow us to return to one Sunday service and give us enough room for all of our adults to meet and to have room for guests. It is our belief that this move will allow our community to continue to grow closer together because we will no longer be divided into two different “service time” groups on Sundays.
Parking has been and continues to be our number one capacity issue in our current facility. On any given Sunday, in one or both services, finding a place to park can be a frustrating and time-consuming task. Even with our transition to two services, our parking lots are often over-crowded and traffic flow into and out of the parking lot is a challenge.
The parking capacity at the school is much more generous. Additionally, the lot is set up to allow good inflow and outflow of traffic. Overflow lots adjacent to the school will provide relief on highly attended weekends (Christmas, Easter, etc.) and the number of available spaces will increase dramatically.
CAPACITY BY THE NUMBERS
As part of the decision-making process, we received capacity analysis data for the new facility. Here are the very encouraging numbers (effective capacity is 80% of max for adult seats, 100% of max for kids and 90% of max for parking spots):
|Adult Seats (including Workers)||330|
Using these numbers, our total effective capacity will be limited only by our adult seats and will approach 450 people for one service. (Adding a second service would obviously add significantly to our capacity.)
HOW LONG DO WE PLAN TO DO THIS? IS THIS A PERMANENT MOVE?
Cy-Fair ISD places limits on the length of time a church can meet in a school facility. We will be allowed to meet at Arnold for up to 3 years, with an option for a 4th year if certain conditions are met. It is our hope that we will be able to move out of the school prior to the 3 year mark, but this will depend on many factors, including growth and real estate availability.
WILL WE BE SETTING UP EQUIPMENT EVERY SUNDAY?
In a word, yes. As with any facility, there are pros and cons to using the school on Sundays. Because this is not a permanent church building, we will be required to set up and tear down all of our equipment each week.
In order to minimize the time and energy required to set up and tear down, we have contracted with Portable Church Industries (PCI), a company that specializes in portable churches (meeting in schools, movie theaters and other non-permanent spaces). PCI has designed a customized system that will allow us to store all of our equipment in two trailers, which will be unloaded and set up each week.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO SET UP AND TEAR DOWN?
The system from Portable Church Industries is designed to be set up in around one hour by a team of 12 to 15 people. In the beginning, it will take us a little longer as we get the hang of it. And, of course, the time is dependent upon the number of people involved in set up. Tear down should take slightly less time than set up.
WILL THERE BE CLASSES FOR KIDS?
Yes! Great attention has been paid to the experience our kids will have in the school. We have designed age-appropriate rooms for all of our kids, complete with all of the toys and activities that you would expect in a kids’ ministry area. While the location will be different, our kids will still have a quality Sunday morning experience.
CAN THIS PORTABLE THING REALLY WORK?
Across the US, there are countless numbers of churches meeting in schools, movie theaters, bars and other public spaces. Many of them are thriving. Some of them are not. We understand that a building does not cause a church to succeed or fail. What we are attempting to do is to remove some of the barriers to growth and barriers to invitation that exist with our current facility.
In addressing those concerns, the portable option was raised and researched. In our research, not only did we find success stories here locally, but we found several churches who met in or near the Arnold Middle School location. In fact, 4 of the most well-known churches in our area spent time as portable churches at Arnold or next door at Lamkin Elementary.
The leaders of Metropolitan Baptist Church (The MET), which began life as a portable church at Lamkin Elementary are such fans of the portable church model that three years ago, they launched a second campus at Hopper Middle School on Fry Rd. That campus has grown into a healthy satellite site serving the community and sharing the love of Jesus each week.
WILL THERE CEASE TO BE A CHURCH OFFICE?
Our plan is to ultimately have both office space and some meeting space available during the week. We are currently exploring our options for office space, but it is possible that there will be a short period of time where we have very little in the way of office or meeting space as we transition to the school and evaluate our needs.
WHAT ABOUT GROUPS THAT MEET DURING THE WEEK?
While the majority of our groups meet off-site during the week, there are a few groups who currently meet at the Knigge Cemetery facility. The leaders of those groups are working with our staff to identify alternative temporary meeting locations. We are committed to continue supporting groups like MOPS and Al-Anon as well as our weekly youth gathering. Stay tuned for more information as we settle on meeting times and locations for these groups.
WHAT ABOUT VBS?
One of the first questions people have asked when we told them about this move is, “What about VBS?” For us, this is a great question to ask, because it reflects our desire to serve our community with quality events for kids. That value will not go away and neither will VBS.
While we will need to “get creative” regarding a location for VBS 2013, we are committed to making it a great event and, with any luck, we will have even more capacity for more kids. It’s more than a year away, but more information will be forthcoming about the VBS location for next year.
WHAT ABOUT GUESTS AND ATTENDERS FROM ANDOVER PLACE?
Another area of concern expressed by some is that many of our regular attenders and guest from Andover Place Apartments are without vehicle transportation and currently walk to our Knigge Road facility on Sundays. In fact, this is one of the first questions we addressed as a staff when we began discussing this move.
It is our desire, as quickly as possible, to purchase a large van or small bus that will enable us to pick up residents at Andover Place (and perhaps other local communities) and transport them to the school on Sundays. In this way, we are seeking to make our new location even more accessible to our neighbors, especially those who may have difficulty walking to church.
If you know of a van or bus in reasonably good condition that we could purchase for a decent price, please email Adam Mosley with details.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Ah, the big number! While the monthly costs of leasing the school are significantly less than our current lease, there is a substantial upfront cost to build our portable church system. We will save around $50,000 in lease and utilities annually, but the cost of the PCI system will be about $150,000. So, financially, we will spend about the same amount over 3 years as if we stayed at our currently location. However, as noted above, we will increase our capacity, improve our location and remove some of the barriers that might keep people from visiting us.
Additionally, at the end of 3 years, we will still have our PCI system (a valuable asset) which could be sold or used in a future church plant. In essence, we will be investing the same amount of money, but much of that will go toward equipment that we own, rather than into a lease on a building that we don’t own.
The biggest challenge, of course, is that the $150,000 cost of the PCI system is an up-front cost. We are seeking to raise a significant amount of this cost in cash. However, barring a miraculous influx of giving, we will be borrowing money from a lender in order to pay for this system. As a church that has always operated debt-free, this decision has been carefully weighed and it is the conviction of the leadership and church board that this investment is a wise one. We will, however, seek to aggressively pay off any borrowed money as quickly as possible.
Just choose "Going the Distance Fund" in the category dropdown.
A PORTABLE CHURCH IS A FLEXIBLE CHURCH!
As we embark on this adventure, we embrace our call to be ready for whatever God has planned for us. As a portable church, we will have flexibility in the way we use our resources, in the way we reach our community and in the way we welcome people into our church family. We will also embrace the need for flexibility that comes with not having a permanent facility. We invite you to embrace this spirit of flexibility as well. Begin praying and discussing what role you might be able to play in our new adventure. We look forward to coming together with you and stepping boldly into this new season in the life of our church!