Renegade will officially launch to public as mobile church at All Star Dance Academy
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 14, 2011 at 5:14 a.m.
Updated Oct. 15, 2011 at 5:15 a.m.
It's nothing new for Renegade Church to go against the grain. The 130-member, non-denominational Christian startup church, organized by the Rev. Bard Letsinger at Dodge City Night Club in the summer of 2010, has already made a name for itself by operating in opposition to traditional church culture.
When Letsinger realized his congregation was outgrowing his existing worship space at the Aaron Rents Warehouse on Navarro Street, he channeled his inner renegade and decided to think outside the box.
What Letsinger decided was to re-launch Renegade Church as a mobile church. Or as Letsinger refers to it, "A church in a box."
"We're basically renting a facility for the time we're using the building on Sunday. We're going to take equipment there in a trailer, set it up, take it down, and do it all over again the next week," he said.
A group of about 30 church volunteers have agreed to trade-off on setting up the hospitality area, and assembling and disassembling the equipment each week.
"When we were at Dodge, we had our hospitality team set up and take down the church every Sunday. So it's nothing new for us," Letsinger said.
After contacting several commercial buildings, schools and other spaces available for month-long leases in Victoria, Letsinger said he couldn't find an affordable space for rent.
And several commercial retail owners simply didn't want a church renting their building.
"Some of the places we contacted were way too high. One guy wanted $200,000 a month, which we just couldn't afford," the pastor said. "And we had a few places flat out tell us, 'We do not want a church here.' I guess the perception is that a church is bad business for a retail space."
After six months of property shopping, Letsinger and music pastor the Rev. Skip Mozisek, decided the church should return to its roots and become a mobile church.
Remembering All Star Dance Academy was located next to Dodge City - where the church originally launched with 15 members and a designated children's space near billiard tables - the Renegade pastors approached studio owner Anna Gonzalez and pitched their mobile church idea.
"We stopped in and chatted with the owner, and she said OK. The space is rented all the time for weddings, reunions and other things," Mozisek said. "The way it's set up and everything, it's an easy, perfect fit for us."
"And the cool thing is, the dance studio is right across the street where we started in the bar. So in a way, we really have always been a mobile church," Letsinger echoed.
On Sunday, Renegade will officially launch to the public as a mobile church at the All Star Dance Academy.
"Doing church this way will save us money, and actually allow us to shift and use that money for promotion," Letsinger said. "When we were on Navarro at the Aaron Rents building, that's all the promotion we needed."
Both Letsinger and Mozisek agreed hosting church in the dance studio will allow the congregation to continue growing until they locate a more permanent home.
"Being a mobile church works in a lot of different cities, especially bigger cities. In bigger cities, mobile churches are everywhere. But even if we do this for a while as we're growing, for us, this isn't for the long term," Mozisek said.
Both Letsinger and Mozisek are determined to maintain their mobile church-in-a-box makeup until they've saved enough money to buy a property with land outright.
"I refuse for Renegade to be a slave to a mortgage," Letsinger said. "I've seen so many churches have pledge drives to raise money for a new building. And when it comes time to collect the money, the people who pledged money are no where to be found. I am not going to allow this church to be in debt. When we've got cash in hand, we'll buy a building."
Letsinger also said he doesn't want to buy a church building now because it would only accommodate the existing congregation size.
"If we buy a building now, it's like we're saying, 'We can only get this big,' But if we wait for the right property, and make sure our finances are settled, we'll be able to find a permanent home that will grow with us," Letsinger said. "Renegade has never been about the walls around us, it's about the people inside. That's the true church."