According to the New York Times, a growing number of evangelical churches are embracing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) -- a sport with a reputation for violence, blood and “no holds barred” caged fighting -- to reach young men and convert them to Christ. According to one pastor, the goal "is to inject some machismo into their ministries and into the image of Jesus in the hope of making Christianity more appealing." The article explained that 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."
Critics argue that MMA ministries take away from the Gospel, which should be the real focus of the church.
I have nothing against those churches and the MMA; in fact, I like watching it on TV and I even adopted "The Hanger" as my fantasy MMA name. But I wrestle with the idea of evangelizing for Christ in a violent environment were prayerful words are rarely spoken and players are cheered not for their healthy brotherly interaction but for their vicious and often gory combat. What kind of message does it really communicate to non-Christian men? If the emasculation of the church and the lack of men in Sunday services drives this trend, adding more men in church attendance is not the sustainable solution. Because the true ultimate fighter, Jesus Christ, defeated death on the cross to win hearts, not raise testosterone levels.
Mixing MMA fighting with Christianity: good idea or bad idea?