In a recent informal online survey, we asked respondents to give us their top church expansion needs. We asked if they were currently looking to add space for a new sanctuary, classroom space, or a new recreation center/gymnasium.
Almost 30% of people in this informal poll responded that a new gym or recreation center was their top priority. Which got us thinking: What are some of the ways gym spaces can be used for outreach?
Each church is different and has unique assets, challenges and missions. However, here are five ways churches can utilize a gym—or recreation space—to advance the gospel:
1. Secondary sanctuary space – Possibly a place to add a contemporary service or one geared toward young people. A gym is a great space to host youth gatherings, including worship services, youth events or special occasions that demand flexible space options.
2. Neighborhood gathering spot – It’s almost like a community center. Churches can use their large recreational spaces to invite the community. It might be for a town meeting, festival, meet-and-greet or myriad other ways.
Whatever the event, it’s a great way to gather folks in your community—some who know you and others who don’t—and demonstrate Christ-like hospitality and generosity. It also might be a way for someone who never steps inside a church to do so. And if your congregation gets an opportunity to demonstrate Christ, who knows what could happen!
3. Church/sports leagues – Lots of communities have church leagues: baseball, basketball, soccer, etc. With an indoor facility, you can only accommodate certain sports. But why not take the lead and host a community-wide church league? It will not only provide space for these sports, but it will also provide an opportunity for fellow believers to talk, fellowship and possibly even discuss ways to work together for the advancement of the gospel.
In addition to church leagues, your church could also host outside groups for games or even leagues. You’d have to make sure the events align with your church’s mission, but these can be a great opportunity to invite the community into your facility.
For example, a homeschool basketball league could use your gym one night a week for games. Or a town whiffle ball league or some other sport that can be accommodated in your space.
4. Service area – Many churches offer their gymnasium space for service projects, volunteer initiatives or a host of other similar endeavors. For example, your church could offer its space for volunteers to pack food for the hungry or gather winter clothing for those who need a new coat.
The opportunities are only limited by your church’s imagination!
5. Concert venue – Lots of communities have outdoor venues for concerts in the summer. But what happens when it rains? They usually must scramble to find an appropriate back-up. This could certainly be an option for some churches. Or even consider hosting a series of concerts over the course of a year that align with your mission but also appeal to those outside your church.
These are just a few examples of ways to use your gym space to advance the gospel. With a little thought and intention, numerous other ways will come to light.