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UMTV: Bowling Church


An unusual approach to church became an instant hit for one congregation. The "bowling church" attracts all ages and those unsure about traditional church.

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(Locator: Maumee, Ohio)

Mike Veres: "The reason this is my home church is because I felt comfortable going to a bowling alley."

Therese Lynn: "To be able to have a small church service in a bowling alley is a godsend."

(Man bowls) "Oh, darnit."

The Rev. Scot Ocke, Maumee United Methodist Church: "My name is Scot Ocke and I have the privilege of being the pastor at Maumee United Methodist Church in Ohio near Toledo. Never dreamed that a ministry we would start in bowling alley would ever do what it's done."

Ron Matney: "It was the best bowling alley I have ever walked into."

Crowd: "Amen!"

Ron Matney: "I come here to give my heart to God, to try to better my life."

Scot Ocke: "We had about 40 people I think the first time. Then it grew the next time to about 50."

Andrew Kirk: "...the patrons and stuff would go downstairs."

Ron Matney: "I walked up in there and I was in a bowling league."

Tom Strohbeck: "We had some pretty loud music and they heard us and they came down to see what all the commotion was about."

Andrew Kirk: "Once the word got out, I mean, we had lines waiting to get into the building."

Tom Strohbeck: "We thought it would be a perfect fit because everybody in the neighborhood knows where Lido Lanes is. It's a comfortable place, non-threatening; it doesn't feel too churchy. I mean, it's a bowling alley, a place where anybody feels comfortable."

(Men bowling) "Come on Don!" "It's time I retired."

Mike Veres, Maumee United Methodist Church: "That was my bedroom window right there. And on the last Tuesday of the month there was a lot of people lined up out here on the sidewalk, and of course I wondered 'What the heck is going on?' And so I had to come out and check it out. Of course if this had been a church, I don't think I would have showed up. But because it's a bowling alley, it piqued my curiosity."

Tom Strohbeck: "I think a lot of people are uncomfortable going into an established church because there's a lot of things they don't understand-- the stained glass windows, they don't know what the pictures are. They feel uncomfortable, they're not good enough."

Mike Veres: "It's more of a place of camaraderie and communion of people. You don't have the stigma of, 'Shhh, you got be quiet you're in a church.'"

Tom Strohbeck: "The church is not the building or the facility it's the people. So when we go outside of our facility we're still the church. We eat together, we pray together and we worship together..."

(Pastor bowls) "Do not film this. It didn't have to be here in a bowling alley. (waits) Alright film it. Film it!

Tom Strohbeck: "...but we needed a place that was far more secular than the church."

Mike Veres: "Any place two or more gather is a church. It doesn't need to be a building."

Scot Ocke: "More churches ought to take the risk. God will show up in whatever place you choose. After a while, we realized we just had too many people for it to be safe, and we ended up down the street. We have been there for almost two years. But it all started here in the most unlikely place of a bowling alley."

Mike Wood, Maumee United Methodist Church: "You can do it in a bowling alley. You can do it at a ball field. You can do it at a laundry mat. You can build a church anywhere and please do."

(Mike Veres bowls) "I shouldn't be smiling. I missed it."


For more information on the bowling church outreach, contact Maumee United Methodist Church at 419-893-8761.

Posted: February 5, 2013

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