Every day on the way to work, I pass a Gold’s Gym. Only for several weeks now, the L is missing. So it’s God’s Gym.
My kids think it’s hilarious. They cackle every time we drive by the sign. One of my daughters thinks she’d like to work at God’s Gym, but as an elementary school student, is prevented from doing so by child labor laws.
While I have admittedly had a good laugh over the missing L, it has also called me to reflect on God’s Gym.
I’ve been working with a church trying to discern their future, and as they started going into the community to meet people, they discovered where the “younger folks” were. They were out taking a run on the sidewalks and streets of the community after work. Or they were in the nearby fitness center. Finally, someone in the group had an aha moment: “If I wanted to start building relationships with some young adults in the community, I could get a membership at the fitness club and start getting to know people as I work out.” God’s Gym.
I’ve been working with a potential church planter who feels a strong stirring to plant a new worshiping community with young adults, but can’t figure out how to make it financially viable. “What if you sought out some partnerships with existing churches and applied for a 1001 Seed Grant?” I asked. This church leader is also an athlete. “And what if you looked for a job in a local fitness center to supplement your income? You would get a paycheck, and at the same time intersect with the very people who are your vision for this new worshiping community.” God’s Gym.
I’ve been wondering what we’re going to do with all these big buildings that cannot be sustained by the small congregations that remain. More and more, we’re going to have to think about how to fund new church ministry, and sometimes that’s going to mean rehabilitating these large structures to house 1st floor businesses that can help fund 2nd floor ministries. Sometimes this may look like coffee shops or restaurants or co-ops or food banks. Or perhaps even fitness centers or yoga studios. God’s Gym.
I noticed last time I drove by, the L has been replaced. But I know that whether it’s God’s Gym or Gold’s Gym, ministry can happen. We just have to be alert to the opportunities.
Shannon Kiser is the director of the East Coast Presbyterian Center of New Church Innovation based out of northern Virginia. She is field staff for the Office of Church Growth, and parish associate at Riverside Presbyterian Church, a church planting church in Sterling, VA. She is involved in the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement, and works with presbyteries, existing churches, and potential planters to fan the flames of new, creative ministries. Shannon lives in Springfield, VA with her husband and two daughters.