Mixed Martial Arts Fight Ministry: Pastors hold (MMA) fights at church

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In ‘Fight Church’ Documentary Film, Pastors Evangelize With Brutal MMA Cage Matches

By Yasmine Hafiz |The Huffington Post

o-FIGHT-570The upcoming documentary “Fight Church” released its official trailer this week, and it provides a fascinating window into the unusual world of fighting pastors. Directed by Bryan Storkel and Academy Award-winner Daniel Jungethe film examines the contradictory phenomenon of religious leaders practicing mixed martial arts (MMA), asking the question, “Can you love your neighbor as yourself and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?”

Storkel and Junge told The Huffington Post that they became interested in the project after hearing about a pastor with a “fight ministry,” and realized that there were hundreds of churches around the country used fights as a way of building community and attracting new congregants. “That’s what was shocking to us,” they said. Junge added, “Beyond churches that had formal or informal fight ministries, we discovered innumerable churches that included MMA as a component of a men’s program.”

The documentary is an official selection for the Nashville Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival Boston in 2014. It will premiere on April 24th in Boston.

Storkel defined a “fight ministry” as “anything involving fighting that brings people into the church.” While some churches offer gym classes or fight viewings, others actually hold MMA battles on church property.

The website says:

Our goal is to tell this entertaining story in a completely objective tone, and to let the story speak for itself. Like the Oscar-nominated Jesus Camp, the film will present these incredibly provocative characters in an objective and often sympathetic light.

We will ask the audience to come to their own conclusions about the connections between religion and condoned violence, as well as explore the growing mainstreaming of MMA in the US, and discuss Christianity in our post-modern society.

Though Jesus told his followers to “turn the other cheek” with regards to violence, some of these fighting pastors point to the Jesus of Revelation as an example of a tougher role model. The directors told The Huffington Post that a common justification for the seemingly contradictory practice of fighting in church is the opinion that “Nowhere in the Bible does it specifically state that fighting for sport is prohibited.”

Another means of rationalizing the practice was holding up Biblical heroes like David and Samson as examples, both of whom are known for their strength and talents on the battlefield.

One pastor explains in the trailer, “We’ll just be a couple of God-fearing men punching each other in the face.”

20 Comments on “Mixed Martial Arts Fight Ministry: Pastors hold (MMA) fights at church”

  1. markdonna

    What is this?,
    1. Jesus Christ said we should love our neighbors as ourselves Matthew 22:39
    2. We should be peacemakers Matthew 5:9
    I don’t get this and I think this is a shame and Real Christians should not endorse it

  2. Harry Francois

    As Practioner of martial arts, I support the self-defense aspects, conditioning/training/sport aspects , and discipline of MMA.
    I’m well aware of the tight community, and bond/respect/humility that people have with one another who discipline themselves, and train in various martial arts, however, I think this may be taking it too far.

    To actually have MMA fights on Church grounds!?
    I don’t think that is appropriate. Church is set aside for God; we’re people learn of God, receive correction, and direction based on Gods Word. It’s a place for prayer, worship, and praise unto God, not mixed martial arts.

  3. SandrineFromBelgique

    What?! Is it a joke?!!! i don’t know what to say…but …crazy. Very very sad…i wonder when people will stop to mock the bible…that’s incredible.

  4. Stan Rogers

    Why is it that the church always has to take something from the world. The article claims that the bible doesn’t speak against fighting for sport, not true. The scriptures tell us that our bodies no longer belong to us,we are purchased with a price so how can we allow God’s temple to get punched in the face. This is garbage.

  5. rebecca

    As if there isn’t enough rage and violence in the world now its been sugar coated with Jesus? Can’t say I’m surprised , people will stamp Jesus on anything. Instead of taking the true bible approach they take anything that’s parallel and completely off the mark. How is martial arts supposed to defeminize men??? Where does that leave the power of God and the holy Spirit?

    1. Josh Boyd

      Christ loves people and since MMA is the fastest growing sport on the planet and involves millions of people… I am confident that he would want these people to be shown His love and to receive ministry!

      1. Denzel C

        This is what happens when things are not addressed. It’s gets out of control. As Christians, we have no business messing around with spiritually offerings unto false gods like Buddha, Hindu, and Allah. Muay Thai, yoga, tai chi or any other martial arts that requires you to meditate are all dangerous, simply because you are projecting your energy to the demonic entity it represents (Like tattoos and piercings) :) . We all have to be very careful, including me. :)
        Deuteronomy 18:10-12
        2 Chronicles 33:6
        Galatians 5:19-21
        Revelations 18:23 & 21:8.

        1. Josh Boyd

          I agree that we “have to be very careful”. But martial arts does not “require” anyone to do anything they don’t want. Plus, many “Mixed” Martial Artists come from a American wrestling background and combine that with Western boxing in order to compete effectively. Anyway, that is not the point.

          The point is, that Jesus told us to “go” out. He went wherever the people he wanted to reach were and ministered to them there. The disciples/Apostles did the same. One example would be Paul at Mars Hill walking among the alters built for all the Roman gods.

          I won’t list them, but I am sure you know about all the scriptures that teach us about overcoming, having power, authority, being victorious, etc. We need to make sure that we aren’t so careful that we don’t ever do anything!

      2. Mara

        Titus 1:7-9 KJV “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

        But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate

        Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”

        Our Lord loves people however it is against his will that we be violent and if we are also called to love out neighbors as ourselves, how would one exemplify this if we one is sparring with another person and trying their best to knock the other out?

        1. Josh Boyd

          Just remember that Jesus was not seen “blameless” by the church in His day. They accused Him of being a glutton, a drunkard, breaking the sabbath and many other things! Paul said to be all things to all men. Anyone can cherry pick a few verses to make their point. However, if we look at scripture as a whole, it seems that Jesus’ message was clear. Go out, meet people where they are and love them!
          Church people today have become like the church people of Jesus’ day and it is scary…

    1. Josh Boyd

      Martial arts does not make you any more dependent on yourself anymore than any other skill that you devote time, effort and passion to… we can let anything take us away from Christ rather than closer, but we certainly do not have to. Combat sports are no more or less evil than any other activity!

  6. Pastor John

    Ephesians- 6:11-12
    Put on the Whole Armour of God that we may be able to
    Stand against the.wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against Principalities against
    Powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age against
    Spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    This is nothing more than end-time deception

  7. Member of God's Army

    I wonder how many people know martial arts especially Karate is linked to the pagan idol worship of the East.
    Let’s do some research here!
    This reminds me of the DVD on Rock Music endorsed by Pastor Lewis where a Pastor employed a Rock group to increase his Church membership and the resulting offering in the basket!
    This resulted in the beginnings of Christian Rock Music ( first called Theo rock) a compromising “Christian” music genre.

    Summary, this boils down to a compromising church gimmick.
    Our fight should be dealt with according to Ephesians Chapter 6.
    This is not being super spiritual but obedient to the Bible acknowledging that God does want us to enjoy our lives without seeking the world’s way of entertainment or perhaps attempting to “punch” out stress!

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