A reflection on the NY Times article, "Flock Is Now a Fight Team in Some Ministries."
After learning about “Christian Fight Clubs” I have been given some serious consideration to Jesus’ strength. Over the past few weeks, I have been asking myself, what does strong really mean? The gospels are full of stories of Jesus disrupting the political systems, reaching out to outcasts, and living outside the ‘normal’ systems. All this time, I thought that was the making a strong leader. Reading about Christian Fight clubs, it seems many people are drawn to a Jesus who was physically strong. These men display that strength by participating in or watching men hit one another.
In an article in the New York Times, Flock Is Now a Fight Team in Some Ministries, I was struck by this statement, “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.” I believe there is room in the church for expressions of kindness and compassion and strength and responsibility.
Feminist movements have been critical of a worldview that oppresses females and creates false expectations of males. If churches ‘recruit’ males based only on their physical strength and not their emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, churches have missed an opportunity to be church. Churches ought to be places that offer healthy holistic ministries instead of continuing to create false expectations of males and females. The only way the church can be the church is for us listen to one another, male and female, and to develop ministries that support healthy expressions that tend to our wholes selves.
I am also afraid if we jump on the bandwagons of our day we may forsake the identity of the Jesus movement in an effort to be ‘cool’ and attract members. Church communities can be a place to share common interests, but what happens when they become the main focus of the ministry? What happens when people show up for a violent expression of physical strength and are not offered ministries that help nurture the whole person?
Jesus ministry was about strength. He fought for the rights of the outcasts, unloved, and socially banished by staying the course and not giving up. Through non-violent efforts, Jesus turned the political systems upside down. Jesus sought to offer care for anyone who came to him and believed. He reached out to their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual selves with kindness, compassion, strength and responsibility. As the church, we ought to follow in Jesus’ example and seek to offer holistic ministries to all people.
Jenn Simmons graduated from Eden Theological Seminary where she received a Masters of Divinity and from Texas Christian University where she received a B.A. in religious studies. She has served as a youth minister several years with positions in Texas, Illinois, and Missouri. While in seminary, she had an opportunity to serve as children’s chaplain at Lydia’s House and as a chaplain at Lutheran Senior Services. Currently, Jenn is the associate pastor of Webster Groves Christian Church in Saint Louis, MO.