Churches are adding health or fitness components to their ministries, according to an American Heart Association article published online in August.
Many fitness facilities have developed relationships with churches. Some large churches, such as Houston’s First Baptist Church, Prestonwood Baptist Church outside of Dallas, and Bellaire Baptist Church in Bossier City, La., have large recreation and fitness centers that include basketball courts, weight rooms, group fitness rooms and indoor walking/jogging tracks, according to the article.
“Rec sports has been with a lot of churches for a long, long time,” Rob Killen, a church fitness owner who works with faith-based groups interested in developing fitness facilities, said in the article. “Now more of them are looking to add fitness as an outreach in part of their ministries.”
Variety of fitness programs available
The Rev. Steve Reynolds developed the Bod4God program at Capital Baptist Church in Annandale, Va.
“I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes,” Reynolds stated in the article.
He lost 130 pounds through the program and has helped others to lose weight, including Go Red for Women spokeswoman Gail Mates, 59, who lost 65 pounds. “It makes me feel good that I’m making a difference and people are changing their lifestyles and bottom line, they are going to live,” Mates said in the article.
According to the article, churches are offering health screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol, often partnering with the AHA to provide health and wellness education.
Members at The Luke in Humble, Texas, completed a 90-day fitness challenge that included fitness trainers, Zumba and boot-camp sessions, weigh-ins and seminars. “We really believe in ministering to the whole person,” Erica Worley, director of development at the church, said in the article.
The AHA article referred to a piece published by Faith and Fitness writer Brad Bloom who said people can often articulate their goals, such as losing weight or reducing their chances for a heart attack or attracting a mate, but they may have difficulty communicating or identifying the deeper spiritual needs that brought them to the gym.
“A lot of times those are things such as they’ve recently gotten a divorce, or lost a loved one to cancer or they’re just tired of the grind,” Bloom wrote in the Faith and Fitness article. “There’s almost inevitably a deeper driving force, or several driving forces, that are spiritual in nature. So connecting faith with fitness, we believe, is absolutely paramount if people are truly going to have success.”
There are 2,000 graduates from The Journey, a 40-day holistic program created by The Rev. Joseph Williams of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta. The program teaches people to eat healthy and deal with emotional toxins, incorporating spirituality in the process in a small group setting.
“That’s nothing more than reinforcement of reading the word of God, meditation and prayer,” Williams said in the article. “There are assignments that cause a person to reflect spiritually on their weaknesses, their strengths.”
To comment, email [email protected]