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21 December 2015

10 steps to a healthier church

10 steps to a healthier church

Biscuits after the Sunday service, cake at house group and lots of sitting on pews, chairs and sofas. All in all, our churches can seem like pretty unhealthy places. But a few simple changes can make a real difference to the wellbeing of the whole congregation - and there's not a green juice in sight.

1 - Swap the Sunday snacks 
Even if you only manage to convince your fellow congregants to make this once a month, why not try to substitute the biscuits for a healthier alternative? It doesn't have to be crudités and humus - see if someone is willing to make homemade flapjacks with natural ingredients, fruit dipped in dark chocolate or even plain popcorn, which is low calorie when popped yourself.

2 - Prayer patrol
Take the prayer meeting out of the church. Why not spend an hour walking around the community, praying for what you see and the people in your neighbourhood. Bring before God the needs in your town, and cover the area with prayer. Not only will it be a blessing to the area, but you can burn up to 88 calories per mile you walk.

3 - Church hall classes
If you have a large space, invite a local fitness instructor to start running a class in the church hall. This would be a great way of helping the congregation get into fitness, but also a chance to get people from the local community through the church door in a non-confrontational way. Once you've built up a relationship with them through the weekly classes, ask them along to a Sunday service.

4 – Faith and football
Could a group of congregants form a football team and enter the local league? This is a great way to get active while doing something you enjoy, and again, the perfect opportunity to ask friends and colleagues who don't come to church to join in. If football isn't your thing, what about netball
or even a bowling team?

5 – Swap to semi-skimmed
A simple swap from full fat to semi-skimmed milk for the teas and coffees during prayer groups and meetings means a lower fat option – and most hot drink drinkers won't notice the difference. Need a biscuit to dunk? Rich Teas are the best option, being low in saturated fats as they're made with
vegetable oil and less calories than most of their confectionary cousins.

6 – Stress quest
Minimise the stress of the church rota. Ask everybody in the church to write down any responsibilities that cause them stress or anxiety, and also ask them to write down any area of church life where they think they could be useful and have the time to volunteer. Hopefully, by matching jobs to skills, rather than just to vacancies, volunteers will feel better used and able to use their strengths.

7 – Launch a faith gym
It's time to get you spiritual life in check, too. Just like your hamstrings, it's good to stretch your faith. Hold a monthly faith gym, with different exercises to flex the participants' faith, including bible teachings and discussion topics that effect 21st century Christians – divorce, debt, depression etc. Perhaps ask a guest speaker to talk about a difficult or specialist subject, like science, addiction or even sport. It's time for a
spiritual workout.

8 – Refresh your service
Could you change when you serve the refreshments? By offering the hot drinks and healthy snacks during the service instead of the end, not only does the congregation get moving around the church for a few minutes, it will also encourage socialisation of those who may usually rush off after the final hymn. Encouraging people to mingle will build stronger relationships – and the research group Barna found this helps to keep some in the Church who might otherwise leave.

9 – Students serve
Decide on a few Sundays a year that are organised by the students and young people in the church. Under supervision, ask them to serve the refreshments, lead worship and even preach. Giving the usual helpers the morning off will help them feel blessed, and enable them to just receive for
a week, encouraging spiritual refreshment. 

10 - Challenge the congregation
Do you want to really step up the exercise? Get a group together and sign up for an event. Choose a charity to raise money for through sponsorship, or use it as a way to raise money for your church. Whether it's a 5km walk, a triathlon or you decide to run the marathon, having a goal will make it
easier to motivate yourself. Get into your lycra and go!

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