Here is a link to a New York Times Article concerning a growing trend to base church ministries on the violent sport of mixed martial arts.
Here are a couple of interesting excerpts with commentary:
The young man was a member of a fight team at Xtreme Ministries, a small church near Nashville that doubles as a mixed martial arts academy. Mr. Renken, who founded the church and academy, doubles as the team’s coach. The school’s motto is “Where Feet, Fist and Faith Collide.”
A church that doubles as a MMA academy? What a perfect example of the marriage between the contemporary church and the world. Hey, I love the sport of football but would absolutely abhor the idea of starting a church that doubled as a facility for teaching football fundamentals to youth. You cannot mix the spiritual with the flesh and remain true to the call of the gospel.
The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing.
This is the fruit of the Seeker Sensitive/Church Growth movement. These ministries attempt to lure in a specific demographic of ‘unchurched’ people by catering to their perceived felt needs and wants, then molds an idolatrous facsimile of Christ that appeals to them so that they make some sort of ‘commitment’ to it.
The lack of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ as a savior from sin is staggering. The fact that this ministry confesses it is trying to make Christianity more appealing is quite revealing. They believe the message of God’s perfect, holy, immutable, soul transforming word somehow needs an extreme makeover to win converts in today’s sophisticated and enlightened culture. This kind of philosophy toward ministry is devastating to the visible church and soul destroying to those who buy into it.
The idea of injecting machismo into the church and altering our perception of the person of Jesus Christ into a big and buff bouncer of religious hypocrites is an extremely dangerous trend. I dare say that the world’s ideal of machismo and God’s view of godliness are two entirely different entities. I don’t recall Jesus doing any chest-thumping or choking Pharisees into submission the last time I read through the gospels.
As the article reveals, a decade ago MMA was denounced as too bloody and violent. It was illegal in most states. Now it is legal in 42 states and embraced by recognized Christian ministries such as the National Association of Evangelicals. How quickly the culture’s perception of right and wrong changes. I shudder to think what American evangelicals will embrace next in order to win the culture over.