By Todd Allison
Outdoor services have always existed, but the recent pandemic has given them a new revival. Meeting in the open outdoor spaces is one of the few ways believers could gather without running afoul of COVID restrictions. That said, outdoor services have become quite popular for reasons beyond following the CDC guidelines.
Drive-in services, for example, have attracted people who have not previously attended church regularly. The service format has proven popular among the immunocompromised and new churchgoers who are nervous about attending services for the first time.
Additionally, many churches have found that outdoor services allow their message greater reach. Ministries that meet in new locations often attract attention and find new members.
Moreover, as anyone who has ever seen a tent revival knows, outdoor services can be quite simple. The basic requirements are a space to gather and a microphone.
But while simple outdoor services can be held in drive-in theaters, outdoor band shells, and park amphitheaters, the emerging hero of the outdoor ministry is the mobile concert stage. Mobile stages are versatile pieces of equipment that excel at producing outdoor events. For years, they have been the preferred equipment for traveling ministries.
With an astounding array of features, they are capable of first-rate presentations for any kind of speaker or praise band. And, when the event is over, they quickly fold up to be conveniently transported to the next stop. They are undeniably the way to upgrade an outdoor ministry.
Their usefulness should be no surprise. Modern church presentations have significantly evolved in recent years. It is not unusual to see live bands, theater lighting, and video walls used in churches across America.
And, with increased production value comes the need for better equipment to produce these same services in an outdoor venue. These new outdoor “venues” now need to be able to travel, have enough space for the band, protect AV equipment from the elements, have places to clamp lights, and accommodate video equipment.
So, it is no surprise that many churches have found advantages to using equipment designed for event production. Using a portable production stage allows ministries to be flexible. Services can be as straightforward, or as complex, as a church needs. Using real production equipment can turn a simple outdoor gathering into an actual event.
Modern mobile stages are designed to accommodate extensive musical performances and video productions. Many of them are intended to hang lights, fly PA speakers, and hold video walls. They rival what churches can offer indoors, and they are expandable if services get larger. There doesn’t need to be a compromise between having an outdoor service and they way your church normally worships.
Moreover, mobile stages allow some environmental control for the event. They can be raised or lowered to enable the audience to have better visibility or accommodate uneven terrain, and they also have a roof and can be surrounded by fabric sidewalls to help keep out the elements or control stage lighting. So, not only does a mobile stage elevate the performance for the audience, but it also allows an increased level of comfort for anyone who must be onstage.
Plus, now is a great time to own a mobile stage. Even though current demand for mobile stages is high, several new stage manufacturers have entered the marketplace with their focus being on small events and small organizations. Clearly, the market has responded to the new interest shown by ministries and non-profit organizations.
Furthermore, while mobile stages are not an inexpensive purchase, new ones can be found for the price of a higher end vehicle. That pricing is a gamechanger for many organizations.
The pandemic has shown us that outdoor services are here to stay, and their popularity is growing. Their unique style and portability is attracting new audiences. But the average church service isn’t as simple as it used to be.
Modern services elevate praise to a whole new level. They often use live performance, complex lighting, sophisticated sound equipment, and a high level of video production.
However, having a service outdoors – or even putting it on the road – does not mean the service has to change. Modern mobile stages can accommodate whatever type of production a ministry requires.
If your ministry is looking to move their service outdoors, or take it take it on the road to new locations, a mobile stage may be the piece of equipment to take your organization to the next level.
Todd Allison is president of Progressive Products, Inc. (PPI), a manufacturer of the APEX and Astra line of mobile stages for the event production industry, www.apexstages.com.