Making the decision to become a fulltime RVer includes the necessity of stepping out of one’s current life and in to a new life. The friendships you have built, the home you have shared and the community you have been a part of will become distant in your new life. While the internet and social media are methods we can utilize to keep in touch with our past lives, let’s face it, we still can’t be in two places at once. The physical distance of space is real. A big part of our lives is who we surround ourselves with, and one of the biggest choices in that arena is our church. Our church is where we worship, where we learn and grow in our faith and where we receive support from our church family. These are the people that walk through life with us, helping us with the battles and counting our blessings with us. It is no wonder that leaving our home church is a difficult decision and one that is hard to foresee how it will work on the road.
In the four years before becoming fulltime RVers, Chris and I finally had a church family that we loved and in which we felt loved. We were members of an Evangelical Free church. It was a very small church, which turned out to be just what we needed. We were very involved, to the point where Chris was a Deacon and I actually worked there one day a week as the Secretary. We were well-connected, grateful and joyful in our responsibilities and loving every minute of it. But that all changed when we decided to fulltime RV. We had to leave all of that behind.
Our fulltime RVing lifestyle is different than most, in that we move a lot. We average staying in one place for 3-4 nights. That is it. With all of that movement, we are looking at a new church each week. That definitely seemed a little daunting at first, but as fulltime RVers we became accustomed to change as our ever-constant companion. We made the decision to actively seek out churches where we were staying in order to worship with other Believers around the country. For us, it is a humbling experience that puts us more in touch with God’s work around the world. I know how He is being worshiped in North Platte, Nebraska and Destin, Florida. I have prayed with Believers all over the country. It is incredible to tangibly experience that.
The perspective we have gained through a new church each week is something we are grateful for, and something we hope that other Believers making the decision to fulltime RV can appreciate too. We do receive many questions about this topic, and we wanted to share with you a little more about the logistics and benefits of our experience so that you can better prepare yourself.
Since this is a complicated subject, and one that will vary for each of us, I figured that the best approach may be to do a Q&A on the topic. That way you will be able to learn from our experience and apply it to your own approach as you like. Let’s take a look at our answers to what we are most frequently asked about church on the road…
What can I expect with churchgoing on the road?
First off, throw out all of your expectations. You will be much better off if you choose to treat each new experience as exactly that…a new experience. Avoid comparisons with your home church or other churches, it will only steal away from the good that is in front of you. Things are done differently in different churches, don’t let the details get in the way of the point of the worship and service.
Will it be awkward meeting people at church that I will only see once?
This is a transition that you will make as an RVer that extends beyond church. You will always be meeting people that you may only meet once. That is a part of this gig. It will become more comfortable to you as you continue to do it. Plus, it really gives you perspective on how you treat people when you realize that you only get that one shot at it. It makes you more compassionate, more interested and more intentional. Trust me, as soon as you tell them that you are an RVer, you will have plenty to talk about it.
Do you always stay within your denomination?
Nope. Chris was raised Catholic, and I was raised Presbyterian. We have already attended churches of different denominations through the years. At campgrounds, we start our search looking for churches that are Evangelical Free or non-denominational but Bible based. From there, we work with what is available to us, expanding as needed.
What if you can’t find a church nearby?
This has happened to us several times. Either due to very remote areas, or parts of Utah where we could only find Mormon (Church of the Latter Day Saints) options. I think we even had an occasion or two where things just didn’t work out either at the campground, or one situation I remember that I somehow totally mixed up the service time and we missed that Sunday. In those cases, we watch a sermon online.
How do you connect with a ministry?
Since we move constantly, this is a real challenge. I can’t say that we have found a good way to do this with just one visit at a church. However, with longer stays in the winter, this is much easier. Since you will probably be wintering in areas that are accustomed to snow birds, you will find it much easier to connect at those churches because they are used to having seasonal visitors. It will depend on the church of course, but we found that by looking for a church that was active in the community, it allowed us more opportunities to be an active part of their ministry. Also, don’t forget that as an RVer, you are now able to volunteer with mission work across the country. Learn about our volunteer experience at Flame of Truth in Donna, Texas. We also have our eyes on another group, SOWERS (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready), that we are hoping to connect with at some point. They are a group of RVers that do monthly projects. There is an application process to join the group and they adhere to annual membership guidelines. The only thing holding us back is that Chris needs to work during the week, so we are unsure how we could maintain his workload and the schedule of the volunteering.
What if you have to checkout at a campground on Sunday morning?
We have asked several times for an extension on our checkout time so that we could attend church, and we have always been gladly granted the extra time. It is not a rule, but that has been our experience, so don’t be afraid to ask. We have also opted for an online service on those days when we felt that was the right decision.
Do any campgrounds have services at the campground?
Yes! In Indiana and Alabama we were able to attend service at the campground.
How do you tithe?
Oooh, now we are really getting personal. Yes, Chris and I tithe, which means we give 10% of our pre-tax income. We wasted a lot of years not tithing, and we regret it. Tithing was a decision Chris made over five years ago, and we have not looked back. When we became fulltime RVers, we also quit our jobs and our income was more than cut in half of what we had previously been earning. Also, Chris owns his own business (and I do too now), so our income varies widely from week-to-week and month-to-month. Early on, we even went a few months with no income. So, tithing has definitely become more of a complicated process for us. As we travel, we have found ourselves giving at churches we visit and also on occasion sending money back to our home church. This is a tough call, and we would love to hear any ways that you have learned to deal with giving on the road or with an unsteady income.
That covers the most frequently asked questions, but allow me to leave you with some encouragement. When we leave our home churches, those bonds in our daily lives may seem broken. But it is only temporarily. As true Believers, we have a greater, in fact the greatest, bond with our creator. While we won’t have a full understanding of it now, we can be assured that we are a part of a much greater plan. An everlasting plan. And these temporary bonds we have now will only pale in comparison to what is in store for us.
So, step forward in faith. Trust God’s plan for your life. And prepare yourself for worshiping with believers all over the country. It won’t be the same as you are used to at your home church, but the challenges and differences will help you to grow your faith and to learn more about God’s ever-present hand in this world.