For Friendship Community Christian Reformed Church in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, exercise and fitness have become part of worship, a continuation of and response to what God is teaching. The focus on exercise and fitness is a part of the Daniel Plan, an initiative that has encouraged members to think about food and exercise differently.
The exercise program began when Pastor Verlyn Schaap preached a six-week series on the book of Daniel. Included in this series was a look at the Daniel Plan promoted by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church. The plan gives church members opportunities to get active and also have fun.
Warren’s plan was “to achieve a healthy lifestyle that is both transformational and sustainable,” according to Friendship Community’s ministry assistant Terry McFarland. She is part of the group that continues to do parts of the Daniel Plan, which is focused on “faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends.” Its basic message, McFarland noted, “is to encourage people to get up and get moving.”
During the sermon series, a group of about 10 people participated in walking or running every Wednesday night. After the conclusion of the series, the church hoped to continue what they had learned from the book of Daniel as well as from the Daniel Plan. McFarland said that the church stays active by offering a time each week where people can get together and do some sort of exercise: biking, walking, rollerblading, and more. Children are included in the activities as well.
Janie Sneider is a member of the exercise group. “I got a sense of joy from the series,” she said. “We see as exercise and eating healthy as a chore, but the series presented it as a positive thing. It’s great for building community within the church and supporting each other.”