Your church gym is perhaps one of the best locations for ministry. Don’t miss the opportunity to utilize it for community and gospel seeds.
By Lizzy Haseltine
When you consider building relationships in the church, you may imagine people gathering in a Sunday School classroom or sanctuary.
But, what about the church gym? Churches can use their gyms or other parts of their facilities to minister to the community seven days a week.
Between the sound of dribbling basketballs and cheers for a team win, there can be more than competition that happens inside gym walls.
If your church has a gym, it is perhaps one of the best locations for ministry. Whether your church’s gym is neglected or thriving, here are three reasons to make sure the gym doesn’t go unused.
1. A church gym is an avenue for community involvement
When I started attending First Baptist Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, I was intrigued by my church’s gym—First Fit Club—located across the street. I noticed other organizations were consistently renting out the gym’s facilities or basketball courts, enabling more people to know about the church itself.
While a nearby school uses the First Fit Club during the day throughout the week, the courts are booked in the evenings by private basketball training organizations. In addition, the courts are rented out for Saturday tournaments or dance competitions. Locals can also join the gym to access the weight room for a monthly fee.
“Our gym is utilized 14 hours a day,” said Fit Club Director Noah Michaw. “And we are able to build relationships through business and ministry in a way that allows us to speak truth and the gospel into others’ lives.”
Through renting out the gym, the First Fit Club has been able to fund needed renovations and is now self-sustaining. If your church gym needs major repairs or workers to run it, consider making a business plan to get finances in order.
While the primary goal for the church gym isn’t to be a financial asset, you may need funding to engage your community with helpful facilities.
2. A church gym increases gospel opportunities
Although the First Fit Club is often rented out to other organizations, the church is intentional to provide opportunities for believers to use the facility for ministry purposes.“Sports has proven helpful for developing a family feeling within our ministry, as well as providing natural and conversational evangelism for each member of our community.” — Noah Michaw Click To Tweet
Each week, a local nonprofit uses the space for tutoring and basketball. Additionally, every Sunday, the gym hosts a free young adult sports night to connect with young professionals.
The sports night includes a mix of church members and their friends or coworkers who enjoy volleyball matches or basketball games. Before games begin, everyone gathers for announcements that include invitations to church events and a group prayer. The strong sense of community and fun competition keeps the group playing for three to four hours at a time.
As a result of the sports night, several young adults have attended a worship night that included a gospel presentation or even started going to a community group. The lighthearted gathering has made people feel more comfortable—and welcome—attending church activities.
“Sports night is for the purpose of engaging our community with something familiar and connecting them to life-giving community,” said Michaw, who also serves as the church’s minister to young adults.
“Sports are such an easy way to disarm people and a great way to build relationships. It has proven helpful for developing a family feeling within our ministry, as well as providing natural and conversational evangelism for each member of our community.”
3. A church gym promotes mental, physical, and spiritual health
Although the church’s focus is on the importance of spiritual health, and rightly so, God’s Word also points to the value of physical health.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul challenged believers, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body” (CSB).
While Michaw was working at First Fit Club, he met a young man who used the weight room for strength training. After being in a consistent church environment, that man has since grown spiritually and become an instrumental leader at the gym.
Strategically using your space
At First Baptist Charlotte, these opportunities became a reality because of Michaw’s vision for keeping the gym doors open.
“A gym provides so many opportunities for relationships to be formed. For us, it was natural,” Michaw said. “People had a passion for sports, so we utilized that medium to share the gospel and offer life-giving community. There was a great need in Charlotte for basketball court space for various trainers and businesses. So we provided an excellent space for a competitive price to build relationships and gospel reputation.”
Although some were deterred by the gym’s long list of needed repairs, Michaw persevered, believing the gym could affect more than people’s physical health, but their eternal destination.
“Church has become too complicated in the past decade. So, I understand why some may not have a desire to reawaken something that may just be dead or that a church may not have the staff to maintain a gym excellently,” Michaw said.“Don’t miss the opportunity to create a flourishing space to invite community and initiate gospel conversations.” — @LizzyHaseltine Click To Tweet
But he had a vision for taking what was old and rundown and making it into something new and meaningful for the community.
“In whatever the church decides to do, it should be relevant, clear, and full of life,” Michaw said. “The primary way we reach people is by building meaningful relationships with them. That may be through business or friendship.”
Ultimately, a gym is just one way a church can build relationships, increase gospel opportunities, and promote physical health. If your church doesn’t have the ability to have a gym, consider adding tennis or pickleball courts to its grounds.
But don’t miss the opportunity to create a flourishing space to invite community and initiate gospel conversations.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Lizzy is a content writer for non-profit ministries. For the past five years, she has traveled the world to tell stories of how God is moving.