Fight nights at Youth Group to connect with the culture?

Fight Night brings in Teens in Brazil


NY Times – Published: September 14, 2009

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The atmosphere was electric at Reborn in Christ Church on “Extreme Fight” night. Churchgoers dressed in jeans and sneakers, many with ball caps turned backward, lined a makeshift boxing ring to cheer on bare-chested jujitsu fighters.

They screamed when a fan favorite, Fabio Buca, outlasted his opponent after several minutes. They went wild when Pastor Dogão Meira, 26, took his man down, pinning him with an armlock just 10 seconds into the fight.

With the crowd still buzzing, Pastor Mazola Maffei, dressed in army pants and a T-shirt, grabbed a microphone. Pastor Maffei, who is also Pastor Meira’s fight trainer, then held the crowd rapt with a sermon about the connection between sports and spirituality.

“You need to practice the sport of spirituality more,” he urged. “You need to fight for your life, for your dreams and ideals.”

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What do you think?  Is this a right practice theologically? It is too relevant?  Would we do it here? Some churches do have UCF nights where guys get together to watch a match?  What else? What are your thoughts?


Fight nights at Youth Group to connect with the culture? — 4 Comments

  1. I certainly do not think that this is right at all. It is just like we discussed in Foundations about teasing students to attend an event than hitting them hard with the Bible. I can remember one remark that you made concerning hidden and manipulative tactics to sharing the gospels. You bring the students into the church, and “Whoops, they got wet. Sorry, how did that happen?” By doing so, we are not fostering or nurturing students into a Christian faith that will last, which should be one of our major goals in ministry.

  2. My home church had a lock-in where the ufc fighter Matt Hughes came in and spoke to the students. If your approach was to have someone who the kids looked up to already who has a strong faith to speak into a students life then I don’t see a problem in using the influence that is already there. Also with Spencer’s concern with the manipulation idea, if we are worried about manipulating students into Christ then why do we do anything fun at youth group at all? Isn’t planning anything fun into our services or our small groups intended to bring students in and keep them? Any type of event can turn into manipulation but we as youth pastors need to just be cautious with how we use something.

  3. I think this is at least a reasonable idea. Having something that’s going to get kids excited about going to a youth group event initially is not a bad idea, and it’s not like these kids were deceived about what they were getting into. After all, the “Fight Night” was held at a church. I’m sorry, but if you go to a church and expect to in no way hear some kind of message, something is wrong. Also, it’s kind of cool to hear a message from someone you may look up to that isn’t your normal youth pastor.

  4. haha Well, as somebody who loves WWE, this speaks right to me. Can the two (sports/fighting and faith) be mixed? Should one be used to promote the other? While I understand the caution that Spencer voiced, I’m going to have to agree with the other guys. I read the whole article, and besides the young kid promising that God will give back twice whatever they put in the offering, I cannot see anything wrong with this. Let’s say that you have a basketball ministry. Guys join up on teams, they play hard. There are some bumps, some hidden elbows, lots of groans and sweat, aches and pains. If afterwards, a devotion is shared, and there is no animosity between them, it would be a good day. Guys experienced real companionship, and real fun with Christians who weren’t afraid to do things a little differently. Is it possible for basketball and UFC/WWE to be interchangeable here as a way to bring kids in? I think so. If you can show people lead by example in arenas where you would not expect to find them, why not? Light in the darkness.

    Now, before somebody goes to an extreme here, let me throw in a disclaimer: Taking your kids to meet Bubbles, the Christian stripper, at her work is probably not the best idea. Each situation is different, and should be checked against morals and against the judgment of the pastor, parents, etc. If something UFC related makes someone stumble, then dangling that in front of them might not be wise. Be discerning about what you put in front of your students. Not every church works the same. We’re all different.

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