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Five Lessons the Gym Can Teach the Local Church

In my last post, I told you why I don’t go to the gym. If you missed it, you’ll want to go back and read it for some context. The main point of the post was that the reason I don’t go to the gym is very similar to why some people don’t go to church.

I’m content just where I am, and I’m not ready or willing to make a change to possibly better my life.

So, how do we change that? How do we persuade people to give it a chance? And how do we keep people coming so that they grow into followers of Christ?

I think we use some of the same strategies as the local gym. It just makes sense.

We’re both trying to get people involved in something that is going to change their lives for the better. The gym works on the physical. We work on the spiritual.

So, what are some of things the gym does that we need to consider?

  • They take advantage of seasons. Specifically, one season known as January. That’s when 99% of people join the gym. Why? Because a new year means a new beginning. Everyone is making resolutions to improve their lives. Many of our churches will see new visitors in January because they’ve made a resolution to attend church. Make sure you’re ready for them. Preach messages that are going to connect with them. Encourage your congregation to build relationships with them. Go out of your way to make them feel at home.
  • They make it convenient. Gyms know that people are busy and want to exercise on their schedule. So, most of them are open 24/7. I’m not suggesting your church does that, but I do think options are good. If your service is 60% full on Sunday morning, it’s time to start thinking about adding another service. Multiple services give people more opportunities to show up. Some people like sleeping in on Sundays; some people like waking up early. You may offer a service that’s not even on Sunday morning. Do what works in your community. Putting your service online is another way you can allow people to connect with your church on their schedule.
  • They encourage community. In my last post, I talked about how many people have invited me to come work out with them. People enjoy working out together. You can help push each other and hold each other accountable. You want the same thing to be happening within your church. You want people inviting their friends. You want people holding each other accountable. The church can learn a lot from the community that happens within a gym.
  • They provide resources, classes, and trainers. My local gym hasn’t gotten to this level yet, but I know many gyms that provide classes throughout the week and access to personal trainers as well as diet plans. What would that look like within the church? In my mind, that’s small groups that are taking place. That’s resources for new believers or those who want to grow deeper in their faith. What are you offering outside of your typical services?
  • They provide a temporary escape from the chaos. I bought my wife Apple Airpods for her birthday. It was something she had wanted for several months because everyone at the gym had them, and she was still using wired headphones. Part of going to the gym is listening to music for most people. I think they want to turn off the noise that life throws at them. It’s nice to put in your headphones, turn up the music, and escape for a while. Even if you have to escape while walking on a treadmill. That’s still better than what most of them are walking back into when they leave the gym.

Your church should be a place people can escape to. A place where they can be themselves without fear of being criticized or ostracized. A place where they can find the love of Jesus and get a glimpse of the abundant life He promised them.

Will I be joining the gym this year? I doubt it, but you never know. One thing I do know is I’ll definitely be at church on Sunday, and I’ll be inviting others to join me.

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One thought on “Five Lessons the Gym Can Teach the Local Church

  1. Audra

    Yes, I was at a potluck and a younger person brought 5 of his friends who he had met at CrossFit to a church potluck! They all got so excited when I asked about it… they were glad I was interested, shared how the community and encouragement worked and even though I was twice their age and overweight, I felt that I could be successful there. This is part of the competition the church is up against. Where we used to hang our hat is being scooped up by gyms, book clubs and kids sports. Some of you will be offended and say that the church isn’t in competition.. but it is competing for people’s attention.

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