AME churches in South Carolina have received part of a $12.6 million CDC grant from the Medical Center and University of South Carolina to promote fitness:
The program includes "praise aerobics" to the accompaniment of gospel music tapes, walking clubs, an eight-week course on fitness and seated exercises for older churchgoers. One person from each participating church will be trained to run local programs and pastors are asked to bring health into weekly sermons.
So not only are the churches becoming gyms, they are also having their sermon agendas influenced by the offer of outside money. This is one of the big problems when churches start losing their spiritual focus. When the whiff of money wafts in, it doesn't matter what they're asked to do to get it, just call it 'praise aerobics' and cash the check. (A similar problem presents itself with the new 'faith-based initiatives' money from Washington.) But isn't promoting health a 'good work'? It might be, but is it a church's job to promote it? 'For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promises for the present life and also for the life to come.' (1 Timothy 4:8)
Churches need to focus on what their job is--promoting godlines--and leave everything else to the world.