Portable room dividers – a highly adaptable tool
Of all the facility tools at a church’s disposal, portable room dividers are — by design — among the most adaptable. They can transform spaces without the expense and commitment of traditional renovation or construction.
Most of our customers order one to two dividers, which roughly equates to an investment of $1,400 or $2,800. As detailed herein, more complex needs require more complex solutions. Our planning team can provide 3-D sketches based on your specific needs.
Three main uses
We’ve found that most churches have one of three larger goals, or uses, in mind when they invest in portable room dividers.
USE #1: Turn lesser-used space into education space. St. Paulinus Parish in Dunbar, NE, discovered Screenflex with a Google search. With a phone call, church leaders said they needed to divide the church basement into four or five classrooms.
Next, emails and phone calls were volleyed between the church and our company. The solution that emerged: seven divider units — six at 6’8” high x 24’ long, and one at 16’ long. Six of the units featured markerboards.
In the end, leaders at St. Paulinus actually got even more than they bargained for: six classrooms.
The total investment was just over $10,000. In addition (as referenced below under “Consider the possibilities”), the dividers will have several “bonus” uses over their lifespan of many years.
USE #2: Transform your gym into educational space. Allegheny Center Alliance Church in Pittsburgh wanted to divide its gym into six small group rooms. When the church reached out to Screenflex via online contact form, leaders were specific — the gym itself measured 74’ x 45’. The church wanted each room to measure about 14’ x 9’, and the walls could be up to 6’ high,
(NOTE: We really appreciate this level of detail, provided right off the bat. It tells us the church has done its homework, and it lets us know exactly what they’re trying to accomplish. A plan might still go through several iterations before the ideal solution emerges, but it gives our team a head start.)
In this case, we were able to meet the church’s needs with eight freestanding dividers, each at 6’ high and in various lengths. The total investment was about $11,000, and — as some churches prefer to do — they bought just a couple of dividers first to make sure they worked in the space. Three months later, the church purchased the rest.
As you can see from the diagram, Allegheny really maximized the “spaces between” — those, too, function as classroom space.
USE #3: Make big spaces smaller, more personal. New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA, had a huge fellowship space that it needed to make far more intimate. Church leaders aimed to divide this large-scale space into six very large, very tall rooms.
Amazingly, it took 24 dividers — each standing 8’ high — to make it happen. Two classrooms are extra-large (about 43’ long x 21’ wide), and the other four measure about 20’ x 20’. This gives church leaders the flexibility to host everything from large group gatherings, to smaller, more personal events (baby and bridal showers, for example) in their otherwise intimidatingly large space.
The church’s overall investment: a little over $34,000.
Consider the possibilities
While these three uses are generally the impetus for a church making the investment in room dividers initially, there are quite a few “bonus” uses, as well.
• Dividers purchased for Sunday School use very often are found to be useful in weekday child care ministries and evening youth and adult ministries.
• Dividers also do double-duty as backdrops for school or church plays.
• Many churches — often with schools — serve as polling places during elections. Dividers can be used to create voting booths.
• One church I know of uses its dividers to create privacy for nursing mothers.
• And, it’s worth noting that First Congregational Church of Rockport (Rockport, MA) — a 2014 Church Executive Good Steward Award winner for Innovative Outreach — has used its dividers to ensure families have a safe, warm place to sleep by creating four separate bedrooms in the fellowship hall. The program also uses the hall’s kitchen to serve its guests dinner and breakfast. Setup takes 60 to 90 minutes and happens after worship services on Sunday mornings.
So, as you consider the best use of your church’s financial resources, keep these non-traditional, “outside-the-box” (but important) uses for your dividers in mind.
Rich Maas is vice president at Screenflex Portable Room Dividers in Lake Zurich, IL.