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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thoughts on the church gym


Is the church gym good news or a headache? The past three churches I've served all had gyms. They were really multi-purpose rooms that were used for banquets, receptions, graduations, Sunday School classes, concerts, worship sites, and sports (especially basketball and volleyball).
Church buildings should be used and used hard. But to what end? Our leadership is now getting a clearer focus that the aim and purpose of our space is disciple-making (broadly interpreted). When a request comes in for the use of the gym, the entire staff asks the question: how does this help make disciples? The responses contain great creativity from direct disciple-making (a Christian concert) to more indirect (being a good neighbor to dads, hosting an after-the-fire meeting for the community, letting the area sheriffs play basketball away from their stressful jobs). In fact, the staff likes a good, creative use of the space that demonstrates a new way to use that space to further the kingdom of God.
The challenge comes from those who feel entitled to the space: you have a basketball court, I play basketball, therefore if it's empty I should be able to play! In fact some go so far as to demand that they be allowed to play. Does the community outside the church have an entitlement to gym-space because basketball courts are hard to come by?
I'd be interested in how other churches and leaders approach the use of their gym/play space. How do you assess use fees to cover costs and insurance?

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