You may or may not be aware that one of the bigger issues facing evangelical groups like Clarksville, TN’s Xtreme Ministries (“Where Feet, Fist and Faith Collide”) is the ever increasing sissification of the church, but the as the New York Times’ R.M. Schneiderman explains, “subculture has evolved, with Christian mixed martial arts clothing brands like Jesus Didn™t Tap and Christian social networking Web sites like Anointedfighter.com.” Indeed, what could be a better marketing tool for the church than an all-male version of OK Cupid (for guys who like to roll around in cages together)?
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. œCompassion and love ” we agree with all that stuff, too, said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. œBut what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.
The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility.
œThe man should be the overall leader of the household, said Ryan Dobson, 39, a pastor and fan of mixed martial arts who is the son of James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical group. œWe™ve raised a generation of little boys.
These pastors say the marriage of faith and fighting is intended to promote Christian values, quoting verses like œfight the good fight of faith from Timothy 6:12. Several put the number of churches taking up mixed martial arts at roughly 700 of an estimated 115,000 white evangelical churches in America.
Nondenominational evangelical churches have a long history of using popular culture ” rock music, skateboarding and even yoga ” to reach new followers. Yet even among more experimental sects, mixed martial arts has critics.
œWhat you attract people to Christ with is also what you need to get people to stay, said Eugene Cho, 39, a pastor at Quest Church, an evangelical congregation in Seattle. œI don™t live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men.