Nontraditional meeting space has become a standard utensil in the outreach toolbox. Restaurants, school auditoriums, theaters, community centers, even bars and pubs have been put into use for Sunday services. In addition, these "third spaces" (not homes, not workplace) are perceived as safe zones where people can engage the Christian community without full exposure to organized religion.
Leadership has watched with interest as congregations take over innovative spaces for worship. But we have been particularly intrigued by a developing movement that is thinking beyond Sunday morning and has found a unique venue that is both a meeting place and a mission field—the YMCA.
We were introduced to the Y church movement in 2008, when I interviewed Pastor David Newman, whose church meets in the Countryside YMCA in Lebanon, Ohio. "Antioch the Church of the Y" began meeting there as a temporary solution until they could afford to build or buy a permanent facility. But within a couple years, they ...1