Deanna Shank, March meetings 2011Deanna had a question. As she filled out the paperwork needed to volunteer at her local YMCA, she wondered about the first part of the Y’s mission statement:

To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build
a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all

Clearly, the YMCA does well with physical fitness, and its after-school programs help build minds. But Deanna’s question was this: What does the YMCA do to help people build spiritual fitness? In many local YMCAs, the answer is, unfortunately, not much.

Deanna’s question pointed her to an opportunity. As she watched people coming through the YMCA, she wondered where they were in their relationship with God. Did they have a place to discuss their questions about God? Could the YMCA be such a place? Deanna began to pray and plan a way to address this.

Nancy Klaassen, March meetings 2011In another corner of the country, Nancy Klaassen had similar questions. Deciding to try an experiment, she and some friends from her church created a space for discussing spiritual questions at their local YMCA. They went to the director and found that the leadership was very open to this idea. They posted flyers and invited their friends, and soon had a group of eight meeting regularly! They began their study exploring the book How Could God Allow Suffering and Evil. They followed this with the Q Place study guide Conversations with Jesus.

Nancy recalls that everyone really enjoyed having the group at the Y, because they felt comfortable inviting their friends. They also resonated with the inductive (or self-discovery) method. “They are learning things they never knew and finding it all out for themselves,” says Nancy. “Just today people were saying, ‘I never knew this was in the Bible!’ They like asking questions and not having a teacher. It is a new way of learning for some of them and they really like it. Many people who came had never really read the Bible but now they are starting to go back to church.”

Listen to Nancy’s Radio Interview.mp3 for the full story.

Deanna’s stories of growth in her YMCA Q Place are similar. Group members call it their “spiritual fitness” group. Watch Deanna’s 5-minute story below!


What about you? Have you thought about starting a Q Place? Have you considered the YMCA?  In a place where people in your community are actively working to become physically fit, you may find people who will take up the challenge for their spiritual fitness!