What is Pop-up Church?

Pop-up churches figure out how to do biblical things in culturally relevant ways. They’re worshipping. They’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper. They’re doing baptisms. They are proclaiming the Gospel. And they are discipling new Christians.

What is Pop-up Church?

What does Pop-up Church in East Palmdale look like?

You’ve probably heard of pop-up restaurants or pop-up stores. But, pop-up churches? Pop-ups are temporary locations. A restaurant will rent an AirBNB for a weekend and serve 5-star French cuisine. A boutique store will set up a pop-up in a venue parking lot during a busy event. Pop-up churches have been appearing in beach communities since the beginning of the COVID-19 stay at home orders. 

But pop-ups aren’t new to the current pandemic. Carey Nieuwhof listed pop-up churches as one of 7 Trends that Disrupted churches in 2018.1 Carey observed technological integration trends into church ministries that can increase location independence. In other words, if you have the tech to communicate your church’s location, then you don’t have as big of a reason to have a static site for your church. 

Pop-up Church Worship Night in East Palmdale, CA
Pop-up Church Worship Night in East Palmdale, CA

Nieuwhof says that a church takes time and money. Most churches can’t have leases, mortgages, and full-time staff members, especially when property values are high in most cities. But he also says that churches in our current day and age require risk and experimentation. Remember, Nieuwhof said this in 2018—long before the pandemic. Today, risk and experimentation are even more critical!

What Does a Pop-up Church Do?

Honestly, the pop-up church takes lots of different forms. Here are two:

  • Downtown Phoenix Church (DTPHX) has services, small groups, concerts, and other fellowship meetings around the downtown Phoenix area. It’s very dynamic, and they have to stay on top of communication with their congregation so that everyone knows where to go on which days. DTPHX focuses on creating a network of micro-churches that meat in public locations in their city, such as parks, coffee shops, bookstores, and other places.2
  • New City Church in Macon Georgia is doing pop-up services in parks and other locations on an as-needed basis during the COVID-19 pandemic. New City emphasizes that there are always going to be unknowns when you are meeting in public. It can be messy, but it will be a fun, authentic, and uplifting experience of worship that will be in direct view people who do not know Jesus.3

The pop-up church is a new idea, but it’s not original. Others are doing it too. 

The most significant thing I have learned is that pop-up churches figure out how to do biblical things in culturally relevant ways. They’re worshipping. They’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper. They’re doing baptisms (BTW, we are having a baptism at our first pop-up service this Sunday!). They are proclaiming the Gospel. And they are discipling new Christians. 

Pop-up Church for Sonrise

At Sonrise, we are going to do a blend of public worship and house church worship, depending on the weather. We will also keep our Livestream going strong for those who cannot get out during the pandemic. Our small groups will meet at homes, and we will continue to develop our identity in the community in East Palmdale and a strategy for outreach and evangelism

Sonrise Church will be emphasizing that “Churches are People, not Places.” We have an opportunity to agree with the scriptures that following Jesus might mean we don’t have a ‘place to lay our heads’ for a while. It in no way means we cannot accomplish the work the Lord Jesus has called us to do. 

So, who is nervous about this? Pastor Helman from DTPHX told the Baptist Press, “I get real nervous…I come down here two hours before we start largely because I want to make sure everything is gonna work right…”4

Are there reasons to be nervous? Sure. But there are even more reasons to be excited about our ministry’s future in East Palmdale and surrounding AV communities. My prayer is that the mission of God would overshadow every anxiety and that the Spirit of God would give peace, joy, and endurance for this next season. 

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