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…”