Modular Building for a Church

Paper No. OCCG-041

Angela Conaway, North Fort Bend Church of Christ
Philip Bailey, Memorial Church of Christ

Download the PDF version HERE


A project to study the practicality, benefits, and costs of starting a new congregation in a Modular building portable building.


Church planting

Modular building


Modular building — A temporary building about 24 feet wide which can easily be moved.

Side Doors — Activities which are not directly religious but bring prospects to your facility (1).


Today one of the major challenges in starting a new congregation is the simple expense of preparing a facility.  A startup congregation will typically have a few dedicated members, and the cost of property and a building are daunting.

In the paper OCCG-010 CHURCH IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL it was discussed the advantages of utilizing an already available facility.  This provides numerous advantages, but doesn’t provide the flexibility and identity of having your own place.

In this paper we will discuss the possibility of starting your new congregation in a Modular building.  The Modular building can be your means to practically start your congregation and build to a level such that you can actually afford to build a permanent structure.

A Modular building is functionally a temporary building, so you have some flexibility you do not have with a permanent building.

Some of the features of a modular building are:

  1. Is relatively low cost.
  2. Can be placed on property with little improvements to the land.
  3. Can be moved to a new location when needed.
  4. When you are done with it, you can give or sell it to another startup.
  5. Has a short delivery schedule, as short as two months.

The figure above will be the discussion size, being about the largest size practical.  It is 12 feet wide, which has minimal shipping complications.  Wider than 12 foot will typically require police escorts and special permitting.  Whereas this is suggested as the largest “practical” size, you can set the size as large or as small as you like, at a price.

This illustration is set up with  a large auditorium on the left end, two classes on the right end, two restrooms, a storage room, and a coat closet.  They are customizable, and can be changed to suit your needs and/or preferences.

The long horizontal dashed line is the dividing line in the shipment.  The dashed square in the main area is a working area in the middle with 3 feet to walk around chairs or tables. Figures following will be using this square, although it will not be seen.

The entrance double doors are modular building.  The double entrance doors are presumably aluminum frame with glass to make the entrance feel more inviting.  All interior doors except the coat closest are 3 feet wide and the coat closet is 2 feet wide.  This maintains handicap accessibility throughout.

The square bumps on the right end are air conditioner / heat pumps.   The towbar is anticipated to be on the right end, with the left end being left clean for signage.   One example of signage was illustrated on the first page.

No provision is made for a sound/projection person.  It is presumed that someone can sit in the audience and do this if it is necessary.

The first figure above shows the main area as it might be set up with chairs in a simple rectangular pattern having 110 chairs.  The second figure shows a more curved arrangement  which might feel less regimented, but only seats 104.  It is important that individual chairs be considered rather than pews.  When pews are installed, it commits the space to a single purpose and inhibits uses which would lead to side door evangelism.  As will be seen on the next page, the chairs can be replaced with tables.

The second figure shows the communion table at the rear while the more rectangular layout shows it at the front.

Each of these configurations presumes that a projector is ceiling mounted with a screen on the left wall.  The builder needs to be aware of the proper location for built in wiring.

An important feature of any facility is the ability to make it available for flexible situations.  These may include anything from common meals to civic club meetings.  This is the reason for a specific storage room.  Your tables and flexible equipment is stored there during worship services.

A key component of an evangelism program is to repeatedly bring potential prospects into contact with your members.  Having your own building lets you do this in a way which simply was not practical in the elementary school situation.

Using your facility for side door events is discussed in the paper OCCG-046 SIDE DOOR EVENTS on the website (1).

The base case costing is having indoor / outdoor carpeting for general durability and some sound proofing, but other options can be obtained.

The size and number of rooms are representative of an easy size to build and ship.  Your local needs may well say you would prefer any number of shapes.

You may well determine that this is your starter building which you can fill in completely with classrooms later.  You can add a second building the same size as one large auditorium room as you grow.

The place to put your Modular building is a major consideration.  It is likely there are several pieces of vacant property in your area.  If there is a piece which would be appropriate for a long term facility, a lease with option to buy later is a good potential to consider.  The option to buy at a fixed price some years later gives you the opportunity to gain the critical mass to actually make the purchase.

Realistically, if the owner is not going to sell for five years and you simply keep the grass mowed, he wins.  Life is seldom that easy to negotiate, but as you investigate your area you might find some real deals.

You will also need to check for deed restrictions for your area as they can be surprising sometimes.

Another consideration is parking.  If you are just starting, parking on the street may be a credible solution at some times.  Parking on your grass is a second option, and you can put shell down or pave some of the needed parking area.

The figure shown suggests that if you can find a situation next to a shopping center of some kind, you might rent some parking from them.  As a practical matter, when you want to go to church is typically when they have little traffic, so you are unlikely to interfere with their business.  If you can find someone who has an interest in a Civic club or other organization, you might make swap of parking for  some auditorium time.

You will need to check your local ordinances as there may be a specific number of parking spaces provided for the facility.  Using other’s parking in their off times (like Sun


There are costs directly associated with a modular building and there are also other costs you need to keep in mind


  1. Modular building $76,000
  2. Delivery haulage   $2,900
  3. Block and Leveling Building   $4,000
  4. Deck/wood ramp option, steps   $6,500
  5. Metal Skirting   $2,244

Total                                             $91,644

Most of this cost can be financed to allow available finances be devoted to what cannot be financed.


  1. Land costs: Highly variable depending on your situation and location.
  2. Parking: Improving the land for parking unless you can make a deal with a neighbor.
  3. Electrical power: deposits, actual connection, and monthly payments.
  4. Sewer Access: Either cost of tying into a city sewer system on putting your own in.
  5. Permitting costs


  1. Sign
  2. Chairs
  3. Tables
  4. Podium
  5. Communion set
  6. Communion table
  7. Projector and/or TV monitors
  8. Hymns for projection
  9. Blinds for windows
  10. Legal fees
  11. Accounting costs
  12. Classroom supplies, potentially a metal cabinet in the classroom which is lockable to secure supply when facility has flexible usage.
  13. Paper dispensers, soap dispensers, trash cans
  14. Microwave for some food preparation?
  15. Ongoing maintenance costs.

A web search will find most church supplies from a variety of sources at a wide price range.


Some startup options without major funding available are:

  1. In a home
  2. In a school
  3. In the chapel of a senior living facility
  4. In rented space in a shopping center
  5. Meeting room in a local hotel
  6. Modular building of your own.

Each of these (and others) provide advantages and disadvantages as a method of doing the Great Commission in your area.  None of them answer the question of where to baptize someone.  A sister congregation or a swimming pool are the most likely initial answers.

There is not a correct answer for everyone, however, trying to do the Great Commission in your area is a correct answer.  Hopefully one of these options can assist you in doing your part.

(1) The OCCG-046 SIDE DOOR EVENTS paper and similar papers can be found at

(2) The costs are provided by Mobile Modular,, 281-487-9222.

Reviewed by: Benton F. Baugh, Memorial Church of Christ