what church looks like for us while RVing

We’ve now had over a year’s worth of Sundays on the road. However I still stumble over myself when asked, “What do you do for church while traveling in an RV?” It’s a straightforward question but the answer isn’t clear-cut. Come with me while I unpack the details of what church looks like for us while RVing.

WHAT IS CHURCH?

Both Trent and I grew up going to church on Sundays. It is part of our family history and something we value. We believe that the church should be important to us because it is important to God. He loved the church. He gave Himself up for it (Ephesians 5:25).

Yet, as I’ve grown, so has my concept of what the church actually is. As a child, church was the white building on the street corner with a cross on top. Church was something we went to and sequentially left each week. Church was a building, a place of gathering, and an icon in town with a cross on the roof. This is not what Christ died for. Instead, I believe Christ died for people. John 10:11 tells us that Christ is the Shepherd who lays down His life for his sheep (not their barn). Therefore, my understanding has grown to realize that “church” is wherever believers are gathered together, regardless of the day of the week or the location of the gathering.

This may seem like an unnecessary distinction to make; however, I believe it is important to start here. Without this clarification, it can be easy to wander off into unnecessary confusion when answering the question, “What will you do for church on the road?” Because there is a big difference between asking, “What building do you plan to go to on Sundays?” and “How will you stay connected with other believers?

what church looks like for us while RVing

DON’T STOP GATHERING

The writer to the Hebrews warned the early church to “not stop gathering together with other believers, as some are you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming” Hebrews 10:25. I believe this has as much relevance now as it did when first penned. As believers we crave time with other believers and that time pays dividends of encouragement, accountability and spiritual growth.

Although it’s much more typical given the largely stationary lifestyle that most Americans live, the beautiful reality is that the believers that we gather with don’t have to be the same each week in order for this plan unfold.

HOW DO YOU GATHER MOVING TARGETS?

Truth be told, prior to launching into our nomadic lifestyle, we didn’t know what this “meeting together” would look like on the road. We knew we were not the only nomadic believers and we knew where we could find believers gathering each week across the country, but we didn’t know how that would all play out for us personally. Thus we entered into the unknown waters curious to see what we would find.

What we have discovered is that finding your people on the road is a lot like finding your people while stationary.

It takes time.

There can be awkwardness.

It requires motivated intentionality.

It’s worth the pursuit.

WHAT SUNDAY LOOKS LIKE FOR US

After 14 months on the road, we have settled into a mixed rhythm. On Sunday’s we often look for a local group of believers to meet with, but not religiously (sorry, I couldn’t help it). We often seek out places of worship where we are in the ethnic minority or where the church dynamics differ from our previous typical.

what church looks like for us while RVing
Photo: Sunday gathering at a Fulltime Families rally

We’ve worshiped from a camp chair and from a balcony overlooking a full-blown orchestra. We’ve been the only family wearing white skin and in the minority without a suit, tie or high heals. Taking notes on a sermon given by a pastor wearing camo shorts and a baseball cap has fallen on the other end of our formal vs. laid-back spectrum. We’ve sat still, quiet and reverent on some Sundays and we’ve clapped, nodded and felt the floor shake from exuberant dancing on others. Each time we have been gifted with a new perspective and appreciation for the unique and varied Body of Christ.

what church looks like for us while RVing
Photo: A Sunday gathering of full-time traveling families last winter in Florida

WHAT ABOUT CONSISTENCY?

While our Sunday interactions mostly differ from week to week and we have grown and been stretched through them, I believe there is something important and vital in meeting together with a consistent group of believers.

This desire has been met by connecting to a core group of people on a regular basis through a weekly, small group bible study using Google Hangouts. This bible study, led by fellow full-timers Ben and Marti Skeat, is comprised of traveling families who wish to maintain accountability and growth despite our nomadic tendencies.

what church looks like for us while RVing
Photo: small group in-person bible study meet up in Albuquerque

Occasionally our paths cross with our small group friends and we have the pleasure to sit side by side during our bible study interactions. This is an extra special treat. Just recently we joined up with the Skeat family in Menifee, California. Not only have we had the pleasure of regular face-to-face interaction, but we were also able to visit their home church and celebrate Ben’s recent ordination.

what church looks like for us while RVing
Photo: Don’t Ben and Marti just glow with joy in this photo?

WHAT ABOUT SERVING?

While our current arrangement isn’t perfect, neither was our pre-traveling scenario. All options have their pros and cons. One of the primary cons we’ve identified is a lack of regular service opportunities within the church. It’s not typically possible to serve when you are the newest people through the door. However, even in this arena options abound, it’s just a matter of identification and initiative.

To this end we are working on developing a list of family friendly service options with RV access/hookups (onsite or nearby). If you know of a place that should be added to this list, won’t you please leave a comment with the details? Once our list is assembled, I’ll publish it here on the blog so others can use it as a resource as well.


What about you? Is this a question you have wrestled with? If you travel, what does church look like for you? What are some of the struggles and blessings you have discovered along the way?

9 thoughts on “what church looks like for us while RVing”

  1. You have put words to the thoughts in my head. Thank you! We’ve been on the road for one year also and have found the same to be true. When people ask us, “what about church?” they mean “what building will you attend on Sundays?” Connecting to people and Being the Church to people along the way has been so much more meaningful for us.

      1. Thanks Heather, thoughtful and honest answer. Not worried about your worshipping since buildings do not a make a worship. Since we often found worship in a campsite or outdoors worship meant being under Gods beautiful clouds,sky and heavenly hosts. He’s everywhere where your heart and spirit are. When you call on the name of the Lord he is there with you. May God continue to bless you all.

  2. Hi Heather, My hubby (@brentdturner or @heritagehandworks) and I (@heritage.ways) follow your RV journey on IG. We, too, hope and plan to FT soon, Lord willing the first of 2019. We are making plans, financially, etc. We have a son’s wedding, prepping house to sell and other reasons why we are waiting, but it is the plan nonetheless. Several folks have asked us this “church” question, as well. In fact, my hubby FWd this blog post to me since it was of great interest to him. I appreciate your well-said thoughts and agree with you!
    About 8 yrs ago we had planned to FT but the Lord had other plans (house, at the time, didn’t sell; we adopted, etc) At that time, we were accepted by a group called Sojourners. It is afiliated with the church of Christ but there are other similar groups in other denominations. The idea is that they are a group of RVers (mostly retired) who sign up for the service projects then travel to those project areas to set-up and work for the designated time. At a certain time each year, the group members can sign up for the projects, dates and areas that interest them. For example, one couple/family may want to help with a kids’ camp clean-up in southern Ohio in June. Another may sign up to help with a VBS in Florida in May. You get the idea. There is no cost to do this and (I think!) the host place must provide free camp set-up arrangements. (EDIT after proofreading: This would be a great idea for a FT family to set-up a group like this intended to provide a way for FT families, not just retired folks, to serve others!)
    I just tell you this to let you know of the options. I know the Methodists, Baptists and other faiths have similar groups. We are not sure that we’ll participate in the Sojourners this time around but it is an option. (This particular group serves CoC churches, camps, etc, and we wish to serve all Believers.) We actually have made a YouTube video of our intentions to travel around the US and serve others, asking for suggestions. (If you watch it, pluh-ease keep in mind we are YT amateurs….ha) Channel is Heritage Ways and we have a playlist of Heritage Homestead Journey explaining our intentions to FT a year or more and then settle down where the Lord leads.
    Well, thanks again, for this post and happy trails! 🙂
    Katie and family at
    Heritage Ways

    1. Thanks for your comment and great suggestions! I do love the idea of a Fulltime Family version of this…it’s something to pray over for sure as the needs of families volunteering are slightly different than when it is just singles or couples. Maybe we will get to meet you on the road in the future.

  3. Thank you for writing about this subject. This is a very important topic and you’ve made some excellent points! I must admit that although we had many wonderful experiences worshiping in many different settings over the 18 months we full-timed, and met some wonderful brothers and sisters in the Lord, I did miss “community”- folks that you have some history with, folks that know you well enough to challenge you and hold you accountable, love you and with whom you can serve side by side. And I became especially aware of that once we became stationary once again. I’m not saying it can’t be done while full-timing- it’s just a lot harder. However, some of our best memories were of getting to worship at the churches lead by men we’ve “grown up with” – spiritually speaking , from listening to them for years on Christian radio! (Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, David Jeremiah, just to name a few. Had we never travelled all around the country we would most likely never have had the opportunity to do that! Also, just meeting other believers and joining in worship right there at the campground was awesome. RVers are some of the most wonderful folks! I do love the idea of the Bible studies and family service trips mentioned in your post! Wow, this could be a whole unique area of ministry! But just being honest here, it does feel good to have found a church home and begin the process of becoming a part of a local church family once again.

    1. I love that you got to hear in person from some of your pastoral mentors! Yes, being a part of a consistent community is much tougher on the road and I agree with you that this is an unique area of ministry, one that we hope to explore and see developed over time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *