Fitness In Church
5 Compelling Reasons for Churches to Consider Adding Fitness as Part of Their Ministry
Fitness is a Great Outreach Tool
Churches can expand their presence within the community by utilizing fitness to connect with new people beyond the church walls. Church fitness centers are more than simply a place to exercise; they’re also fellowship! What makes the fellowship found through church fitness unique is that many of these people would never consider stepping foot inside the church. They came because of the fitness ministry. Some of these people will begin attending church on a regular basis, become members of your congregation, grow to serve in other areas of church ministry, and completely transform their lives for the better. A church fitness center can be a nice way to welcome new guests in a casual, relaxed setting. Encouraging and empowering people through fitness is a creative way for your church to impact your community, utilize unused space, make the church a gathering place every day of the week, while connecting new people to your church.
Complete Well-Being Involves our Physical Bodies
None of us can be our absolute best in serving God while in poor health. People who engage in regular exercise live longer lives, are physically healthier, miss fewer days at work due to illness, experience less depression, and have more energy. Optimizing these areas enables us to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. A healthy mind, spirit and body combine to make a person whole. If your church does not have the space and resources to operate a fitness ministry, your congregation can still promote the importance of physical fitness, and encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Regular Church Goers are 50% More Likely to Become Obese by Middle Age
Several studies indicate a direct link between obesity and church attendance. Research from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine indicates that frequent religious involvement almost doubles the risk of obesity when compared to little, or no involvement. Northwestern presented their findings in 2011, after conducting 18 years of group testing. While the research is not clear why religion may be associated with higher obesity rates, what is clear is that there is a definite church culture around eating. Church socials, potluck dinners, and Sunday morning doughnuts are common at churches around the country. Researches also believe the decision to attend church activities are sometimes made at the expense of participating in other recreational or athletic activities. The church culture does a good job of discouraging other unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, however they generally don’t place the same emphasis on a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Another study published from Dr. Ken Ferraro of Purdue University also found that regular church goers are more likely to be overweight than non-church goers. Ferraro concluded that the most obese people tended to reside in states high the highest religious involvement. Ferraro suggests that marriage may also play a role, since weight gain is common after marriage, and marriage is highly valued in most religious groups.
The irony is that several other studies show regular religious involvement to be very beneficial in many other health related aspects. People who attend regular religious services have lower anxiety and stress levels, are happier and less likely to smoke. Churches can have a tremendous influence on encouraging people to exercise regularly, especially if the facilities and programming are included on church grounds.
Provide a Fresh Alternative for Your Church Members Who Already Exercise Elsewhere
Many members of your congregation already exercise outside of your church and have memberships to local health clubs and fitness centers. Your church fitness center can become their new exercise home, as long as the fitness ministry is done with excellence. Excellence in church fitness is accomplished by providing plenty of good equipment, keeping the facility spotlessly clean at all times, providing exemplary customer service, and making sure your fitness ministry is friendly and inviting to everyone. People who are comfortable with their place of exercise will look forward to their workout, and are more likely to adhere to an exercise program.
The Bible Instructs Us
Care For Our Physical Bodies
First Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were brought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 9:27 – But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified
Proverbs 23:20-21 – Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty
1 Corinthians 10:31 – Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God