(02/12/14) - A lot of religious organizations have been saying 'no' to traditional church buildings in recent years. Instead, they rent space in schools, movie theaters and hotel conference rooms.
But space isn't all they need.
There's a Michigan company that helps meet those other needs.
Troy-based Portable Church saw that these groups used sound equipment, lights and special furniture to turn their meeting rooms into sanctuaries.
It might start out looking like dull, ordinary room but it doesn't take long for a small team of church volunteers to transform it into a bright, eye-catching meeting place.
"Set up within an hour, tear down within an hour," said Scott Cougill, Portable Church CEO.
That's the idea behind Portable Church - make equipment that's durable and portable to convert nearly any room into a place of worship. They've been doing it for twenty years at this facility in Oakland County.
"We've worked with over 2,000 churches," Cougill said.
The company knew many Christian groups were foregoing the purchase of typical brick-and-mortar buildings, opting to rent meeting spaces.
"As churches try to be a better partner in the community and try to be more helpful and really integrated in the community, portable spaces like schools, YMCA buildings, for example make a lot of sense," Cougill said.
And into those spaces go sound and lighting systems, backdrops, platforms and signs. And don't forget storage for all that equipment.
"We manufacture these cases. We have very professional designers, audio-visual engineers, as well as support people," Cougill said.
Brandon Sweeten has been with the company for eight years.
"I believe in Jesus and what I do is more than just punching a time clock. It's more than just putting in my eight hours. It's helping people across the country, open up seats to hear the message of Christ. That's a big deal to me," Sweeten said.
Representatives from Portable Church will meet with their clients to find their specific requirements. Then they'll build the equipment to meet their needs.
"It takes about six to eight weeks to deliver the complete system to their site, train them and have everything up and going," Cougill said.
Designers try to make everything as simple as possible. For example, color coding helps eliminate guess work. They know the people setting up this sound system probably are not experts.
"This church when they roll it out, they just plug in the snake, maybe plug this to a projector and they're up and going in the school auditorium," Cougill said.
Simplicity is also the keyword after the service. The gear goes into these custom-designed storage trailers. The equipment produced at Portable Church has always been made in Michigan and the company has no plans to move. In fact, it's renting even more production space.
"It really makes most sense to be here. Michigan is still a great location. We have a great labor force," Cougill said.
Portable Church has 30 employees and in recent months has established clients in Central America.
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