Here is another story from the road. I’m collecting stories of new things churches are doing to join God in their neighbourhood. #1neighbourhood
Here is a story that forces us to take a fresh look at our facilities and ask how God might want to use our facilities to bless our community?

In the small community of St. Martins, in 2015, their fitness centre closed.
Someone from the centre called the church to see if they would be interested in the equipment.
It’d be easy to blow that off and say – “No way! No thanks.” That sounds messy.
But St. Martins Baptist had a few people that were already gathering together a couple times a week for fitness and they wondered if God had more in mind for them and their church.

As leaders in the church began talking about it they recognized they had quite a bit of underutilized space in their church, and so together decided “let’s bring the equipment here and build our own Fitness Centre”.  WOW!

What an amazing example of the way God can bring things together – a great deal on equipment at the right time, people already interested in fitness in the church, a need in the community for a gym, and a church willing to try something different and new.

So St. Martin Baptist got to work. They:

  • Negotiated a deal on some key pieces of equipment from the defunct Fitness Centre
  • Church carpenters worked to join a couple of old Sunday school classrooms – to create both a new nursery and the space for the new Fitness Centre
  • Installed power plugs put in what would be the cardio wall
  • Painted the room – thanks to more volunteers!
  • Purchased some additional pieces of equipment that were required

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Then on May 20, 2015 they opened to the public, with the model they still use today:

  • Operated by volunteers
  • Open 6 days per week (reduced hours in the summer) at the hours volunteers are able to commit to be there
  • There are no membership fees
  • Users are asked to register (and agree to their policies)
  • There is a place to make a donation, if users wish
  • Users log in when they arrive
  • A weekly schedule is posted on Facebook each Sunday
  • The donations are used to augment/replace equipment

The St. Martin’s Baptist church has seen groups start to workout together at dedicated times, people come in to walk in the gymnasium especially during the colder winter months, a floor hockey group began and connections with their neighbours started. During the 2016 calendar year they had over 1800 visits to the Fitness Centre that included over 130 unique individuals. You can check them out more on their website: SMBC-CFC or join their SMBC CFC group on Facebook.

The fitness centre in the church has proven a great way to both serve and connect with the community.
Now that’s thinking out of the box!
I know, from personal experience, how many connections I’ve built and enjoyed through my gym. I think my gym is the thing I miss the most when I’m on the road!

How might you use your church facilities in a fresh way to BLESS your community?

Notice, this wasn’t designed to be a money making endeavor, but to be a way to meet a need in the community, bless the community and start connecting with new people in the community.

It doesn’t need to be a gym, but WHAT could it be?
How can you join God in your neighbourhood?

-Renée (with help from Steve Grant – a leader at SMBC and the manager of the Gym Ministry)

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