Recently, my church made a connection with an after school program for kids. They needed a large room for martial arts classes after they lost their space at a nearby school. They found our building, with its large hall and polished wood floor, and asked if they could rent the space from us for a small fee. After checking out the insurance arrangements and how furniture would be moved before and after the program, an agreement was reached, and now, two afternoons a week, the upstairs is full of kids kicking and punching the air, testing each others’ strength,planning community service projects and, most remarkable, listening quietly and respectfully to their leader, a female martial arts expert.
The program not only teaches martial arts, it also focuses on character development, bullying prevention and civic responsibility. While it is not a faith based program, it is consistent with many of the core values we teach kids in our own youth programs.
Your church may be sharing its building with other community organizations: a Scout troupe, an AA meeting, or a yoga class, for example. You might think of these other groups as “tenants” who help you pay the bills. But it’s possible that they are co-workers alongside you in the building of God’s reign.
Partners for Sacred Places is an organization that provides resources to help churches team up with other organizations for the building of community life through “mission based space sharing”.
In this Youtube video, they explain how they are creating a network to match local arts and non-profit organizations with churches for space sharing that is not only mutually beneficial for each group, but also creates “social capital” in neighborhoods, helping them build their own cultural life using the “moral and physical” presence of church buildings. The video points out many other reasons why sharing space is a good idea for your church AND your neighborhood’s vitality.
Check it out!