Church meetings take a variety of formats including worship services, small groups, conferences, seminars and workshops, retreats, banquets, annual meetings, and events for youth. A variety venues are being used for church meetings.
In a related trend that is sweeping the U.S., Canada and the UK church congregations are transforming a theatres, bowling alleys, and other venues into churches. With large auditoriums, breakout rooms, classroom, and state of the audio-visual, these modern churches are rented by other congregations as well as community groups for concerts, conferences, workshops, movie screenings, and meetings.
Cvent lists many bowling alleys throughout the U.S. and Canada.
1. Summer Camps
The summer camp season is very short. During the rest of the year, many churches use Christian camps like Parkside Ranch and Frontier Lodge in Quebec, and Teen Ranch in Orangeville, Ontario for retreats for teens, singles, and couples. Teen Ranch has equestrian facilities and a full hockey arena so a range of recreational activities can be included.
2. Hotels and Resorts
A number of churches use hotels for Sunday (or Saturday) morning worship services. Toronto Congress Centre near the airport is an example of a venue that has been used by churches and for conferences by church organizations. Again, it's a win-win for hotels and churches as weekend mornings are a low demand period for corporate events, business meetings, and social events.
Due to their central locations and affordable pricing, university facilities are a popular choice for church organizations. Inter-varsity Christian Fellowships Urbana missionary conference for youth got its name as for years, this event was held at my alma mater University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when meeting facilities and accommodation were available between Christmas and New Years.
4. Movie Theatres
Some congregations have services at movie theatres. It's a win-win scenario as movie screenings start early in the afternoon on Sunday. Cineplex Theatres in Canada have been used by church groups and Cvent lists a number of Cineplex Theatres.
Crosslands Church in Newmarket Ontario used to be a movie theatre. Pictured above, The Meeting House in Oakville, Ontario held services at a movie theatre that it eventually purchased and transformed. The congregation has expanded by starting satellite churches at other movie theatres throughout Ontario.
5. Bowling Alleys
With their large party rooms and concession areas, bowling alleys are other venues that work for churches. In fact, North of Toronto, The Gathering Place in Aurora purchased a bowling alley and converted it into a church. The bowling alley is still available for church and community events, including events for children and youth.
6. Banquet Halls and Conference Centres
Banquet halls like 1871 Berkeley Church that used to be churches are other examples of the types of venues that churches can use for services, banquets, and socials. Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship used to be a conference centre until it was purchased and renovated by the church.
St. James Cathedral in Toronto restored The Cathedral Centre. Originally constructed in 1909, it is now an event venue that can be used for church events, meetings, corporate events, weddings, and and other private events.
7. Golf and Country Clubs
Golf and country clubs are another good fit for churches, as their meeting and banquet facilities are usually vacant on Sunday mornings. For example, Olive Branch Community Church used to worship at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ontario. Cvent lists many golf and country clubs that can also be used for church banquets and dinners.
8. Former Nightclubs
In a bold move that had widespread local Government and community support 10 years ago when Markham, Ontario was morphing from a small rural town into a community consisting of residential subdivisions for families, Olive Branch Community Church eventually purchased and transformed a strip club into a church. Talk about out of the box!
Timberline Church in Colorado did the same thing. A Pentecostal Church in Newmarket, Ontario held prayer vigils around a strip club and, when it went out of business, they purchased the building and converted it into a church. Bethany Community Church in Seattle is doing the same thing. A pastor in New York City is in the process of raising funds to do the same thing with 4 clubs that have gone out of business in The Bronx. New Grace Gospel Fellowship in Michigan is transforming a building that was originally a church and then used for two nightclubs - back into a church.
For more information on church meetings, read Using Mobile Event Apps for Community Churches and Religious Conferences: Taking Part in the Social Stream.