The new year has begun, and with it, many people’s resolution to get fit this year. Maybe they want to lose a few pounds, gain some muscle, or just feel better physically. I’m sure you’ve already seen a thousand gym and diet ads. Everything that can promise to help you reach those physical resolutions.
This topic doesn’t usually jump to the front of your mind when planning things for the church. Why should the church be concerned about the physical fitness of its members? In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, the Bible says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”
The only fitness retreat you may have heard of is “yoga retreats.” They are quite popular. But you don’t have to be limited to yoga. Use exercise as the theme for your retreat and apply it as our many blogs have suggested; in your message, decorations, activities, and worship.
Use the above bible verse and others like 1 Corinthians 10:31, Philippians 4:13, and 1 Timothy 4:8 to speak to your guests. As with every bit of the Word, teach through living a Godly life. Talk to them of the importance of a healthy lifestyle in order to live a better life for themselves and God. You can also bring in a fitness expert to talk to guests. Make sure to allow some time for a Q&A session.
Exercise isn’t the only topic. Make sure to talk to them about running to God instead of food for those who struggle with emotional eating. According to the American Psychological Association in 2013, “ Twenty-seven percent of adults say they eat to manage stress and 34 percent of those who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say this behavior is a habit.”1 Almost ten years later, that number can only have gone up. The worst part about eating in this mental state is it only makes you feel bad afterwards. That doesn’t happen when you seek God’s word instead.
Speaking of eating, plan your meals carefully. Yummy, yet healthy, meals served at your event will reinforce your mission and can show guests just how these good foods can be incorporated into their everyday life. Make sure each food is labeled so they know what it is.
A good activity to do with guests is to supply them with journal materials to make a fitness journal. You can start them on this with those meals. Keeping track of what they eat and their exercises every day. If you can find a fillable print out online, that would be easiest. Give them some time and supplies to personalize it and make it theirs.
Since this is a fitness retreat, it is important to also do some physical activities. Schedule times to play recreation offered at the retreat center. Obstacle courses and tug-o-war are great options here. You can also schedule a group hike. Giving some options will allow guests to find something they like that can lead to them exercising after the retreat is over. Who knows? You may have a sports league in your church when you get back. My dad plays on a basketball league at his church, and I participate in pickleball open play. It’s a great way to get your congregation having fun together. I also participated for a long time in Refit, which is a worship dance fitness class. We literally danced to worship music. It was a great workout and a spiritual experience with fellow my Christian ladies.
Hopefully the idea of a fitness retreat does not scare away your congregation. Make sure to let them know what it is about and how it will affect them both physically and spiritually. I’m sure those with fitness resolutions this year will be eager to sign up.
1 Stress and Eating. American Psychological Association. 2013. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/eating