CASE STUDY: SHARING YOUR HALL
Assuming you own your ecclesial hall/chapel/meeting house, are you making the best use of the space
throughout the week?
What do you do?
In Portland, Oregon, we have been renting our building to numerous 12-step groups throughout the week.
I have been a member of Al-Anon (a 12-step support group for family and friends of alcoholics) for the past ten years and therefore have personal experience on how powerful and spiritual these 12-step groups are for those struggling with addiction issues, and family or friends with addiction issues.
An Al-Anon friend and I were chatting about starting a new group and I immediately offered our church, and within a few months we started meeting on Friday afternoon for an hour. This friend also attended another Al-Anon group and before long they started meeting in our church building on Wednesday mornings. My (alcoholic) friend knew of an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) group that needed a new home, and he asked if they could use our building, so we soon had an NA group every Monday night.
News spread, and someone from an AA group called me asking if her group could use our building. This is the longest running AA group in the Portland area, and they had been meeting at the same church for nearly 40 years, but the pastor changed and the new one was not as receptive to 12-step groups and they were very soon made to feel unwelcome. This group now uses our building six days a week!
Each 12-step group is part of a collection of groups called a District, and a designated member from each group has a monthly District meeting, and the AA District meets in our building one Sunday afternoon a month. All in all we have around 150-200 people coming into our building each week.
An opportunity to share our faith
It did not take us long to realize that this was an amazing preaching opportunity for us, and we created a space in our lobby that houses free Bibles, Bible reading planners, Glad Tidings magazines, and other free material. We have given away dozens of Bibles, and pray that our friends might draw nearer to the Lord Jesus because of this..
We are currently working on our 12 Beliefs which has been a fun project to distill our beliefs down to 12 so that we can create a poster and hang this in our lobby. 12-step groups have 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, and 12 Concepts, and we are mirroring them with our 12 Beliefs. One of the 12 Traditions is that each group ought to be full self-supporting declining outside contributions … , so we charge a minimal rent that helps cover our utilities, and the AA group that meets six days a week buys all cleaning products, dishwasher soap, toilet paper and paper towels as part of their rent.
How long have you been doing this?
For about three years.
Are there any issues that have arisen?
Some of us were a bit leery about the possible wear and tear on our carpets and chairs, and some were anxious about theft, but most were more than happy to have the building used, and grateful that I was willing to take on this task.
How much work is involved?
It just needs one member of the ecclesia to oversee the rentals, arrange key holders from the groups and timetable the rentals so that there are no clashes etc. Once things are set up, the work involved is minimal.
Have you had a good response?
I consistently receive feedback from the groups that they truly appreciate our church building and the spirit that they feel when they walk through the door. Eighteen months later, I can attest that the wear and tear is minimal. The groups are tidier than we were before we started renting! And best of all, one of the AA members earns money by cleaning the building every Saturday afternoon and puts the chairs in rows for our Sunday service. Renting to 12-step groups has been a win-win for all of us, and something that I highly recommend for you to consider.
united states, almost 35%
are found sleeping