Church Buildings, Ghostbusters & NFL

When in need of a location to house your congregation, you won’t get any help from Ghostbusters. Or from many of the usual sources these days.

However, the NFL might be of a little help if you think about it? “How is that?” you ask. While most churches meet only on Sunday mornings, the National football league plays on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays.

Or, maybe we should look to the NBA, which schedules games seven days a week.

The pandemic plays havoc with churches for many reasons, including limited crowd size or stay home orders that completely shut off public worship services. But there is a bigger problem with fewer available places to meet. Some public schools are closed, precluding churches renting them. Others are open but not rentable. Movie theaters have embraced churches in recent years, but now they struggle to survive. Some will never re-open.

A Post-pandemic Issue

The shortage of rentable space will continue long after we all have a vaccine in our bodies. So what options do we have?

Well, let’s look again at just the NFL for a little help (assuming a seven-day schedule might be a bit too radical). Meeting on days besides Sunday works for some. One church I know bounced from Sunday mornings in a high school to outdoor Sunday morning meetings in a nearby church’s parking lot. When the other congregation moved back into their building, the parking lot got too crowded. My friends simply moved to Saturday mornings in the same parking lot.

“Off days” and “off hours” make a lot of sense. Did you know that 92 percent of churches own property (or at least own a mortgage)? It’s also true that churches use their meeting facilities, owned or rented, for just 5-9 hours each week. That terrible inefficiency creates an opportunity for people courageous enough to embrace it.

Examples While Moving Forward

Churches I pastored met for “Sunday morning service” on Fridays, twice on Saturday evenings, four times on Sundays, and we even tried a Tuesday night service with mixed results. We planted one very successful church in Japan that has met on Sunday evenings since birth (4:30 and 7 PM). The Church on the Way in Van Nuys used to hold Saturday morning worship meetings in addition to a full Sunday schedule. The Coastlands in Aptos, CA, held two services Sunday morning in addition to 4 and 7 PM with a for-purchase meal wedged in between. Another church has organized around online Bible studies with a monthly public meeting on Sunday evenings in a rented coffee shop.

I could go on with more examples, but it’s time to hear from you. My point is that if you choose to innovate, there are more than 300,000 church-owned campuses just waiting to take your rent money. They benefit. You get a more stable contract than you might with a government-owned facility, and it will probably cost less than renting a theater. BTW, there’s probably more than adequate parking. What could be wrong with that?

I often like to solicit comments at the end of a blog. Today, I’m BEGGING! What knowledge or experience do you have with off-hours or off-day church meetings? Please utilize the comments box, and together we may be able to assemble data that will help each other as we multiply into the future. Remember that word, “begging…”

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4 thoughts on “Church Buildings, Ghostbusters & NFL”

  1. Someone made a comment at our deacons’ meeting last night that when we can go back to meeting in the building we have an opportunity to reconsider when we meet ( and in what style).
    Also as a trustee of a suite of church buildings I am aware of how much work it takes to maintain them and for me it would make sense for as many fellowships as possible to use the one building.

    1. Patrick,
      That is so rignt-on. One church I know has moved out of the building and into small groups meeting in homes on Sunday mornings for brunch while watching the pastor’s message. Provides an “event.” Ties people together. Offloads real estate costs in much the same way as Air BnB. The future is bright if we scope out the opportunities.
      Thanks for commenting!
      Ralph

  2. Pastor Ralph, I just want to say that I first began attending church while you were still pastor if Hope Chapel meeting out of Ben Parker School. I learned so much as a new unchurched believer. Upon becoming saved, I could no longer continue living in sin so I told my boyfriend that it was time to “$h#t or get off the pot”. We had been living together for 7 years at that point. My husband who sporadically came to church and did so with feet dragging protest,had seeds planted because of your teaching. He still today references how much he enjoyed your sermons for their “meat”. He finally, after 20 years was baptized. We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary and have a 17yr old miracle son. You see, I came to church because I was losing hope. Having developed a seizure disorder right out if highschool that wasn’t being controlled with medicine. With crippling fear, agoraphobia, terrible wright gain, and sometimes multiple grand mal seizures a week, my life seemed worthless. Upon being saved, I found my refuge in the Lord and in prayer. One day in deep prayer I heard the Lord answer, “you won’t have seizures forever and you will be a mom one day”. These were my two fervent prayers. I stood unwavering on that knowing it was from God. And through a series of divine appointments, a brain tumor was discovered and just like that my seizures were gone. This was the first if many miracles the Lord has done in my life and above all the physical blessings is the gift of faith these trials gave given me. I wanted you to know that our Lord used your teaching and church to reach this one. Thank you for your service to the Kingdom and to our Lord Jesus Christ. P.S. In response to your post….over the years I have seen the burden that the overhead of a church property can become especially when a church struggles to fill seats. I have seen sermons compromised to fill seats. I have also seen old churches with parsonages be a blessing to the church and community. And I have recently experienced doing church in my house. A little over two years ago I stepped down from leading women’s ministry at Sunset Beach Christian Church, feeling a pressing urge to host a house church. With four families together we began a church. We shifted our focus from ministries to proclaiming the Gospel in full, and to Bible study and reading. It was the most equipping and edifying experience. Our spiritual maturity catapulted. Then Covid hit. Since then, we have taken our new growth with us to our new church homes God used house church for a season of respite and focus, teaching us to feed ourselves and to live out our faith boldly. I am convinced that at some point in our near future, due to increased persecution, believers may find it necessary to meet in homes rather than in churches. The experience for me brought the intimacy I once felt many years ago in my first Mini Church family. Thank you for that too.

    1. Thanks Rhonda,
      I feel like you gave me a Christmas gift. So happy to see former Hope Chapel members going on in the Lord to fulfill a call to ministry. The purpose for HC has always been to equip its members for ministry.
      Thank you for taking the time to write this!
      Ralph

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