The YMCA Isn’t a Church—But It Makes a Great Host


May, 2018

Church Partnerships

While the YMCA was founded in a prayer meeting and has had close ties to the faith community since its inception, it is not a church … nor should it be.

However, numerous YMCAs are privileged to host resident churches in their buildings. These congregations vary widely in style, denominational affiliation, and strategic approach. Some are simply tenants sharing space, while others are full-fledged partners with their host YMCA in serving the local community. There is no one formula that will work in every situation or a cookie cutter approach to planting and sustaining a vital church in a YMCA. But the churches that thrive in such a setting seem to share some common traits.

A church that feels at home in a YMCA is one that embraces the diversity of people that live in their community. They seem to innately understand why the YMCA is for all and do their best to truly live out God’s love as they interact with others.

Anyone who has ever “shared’ a work space understands the importance of this principle. Churches meeting in a YMCA realize that during the week things get moved around, distractions are normal, and they must remain adaptable.

In most cases the facilities in a shared space like a YMCA are not as attractive, inviting, or easy to use as a traditional church setting. These churches focus on their mission more than the facilities. They know they are in business to serve others.

One incredible mark of these churches is how much they are willing to give back to both their community and their YMCA. In many cases the church members make up the core of the volunteers at most or all of their YMCA’s sponsored events!

These churches are almost always filled with individuals and families that want to make a difference. They constantly are looking for ways to impact their community. They believe in what they are doing and they’ve given themselves fully to that task.