A new documentary about Christianity and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighting premieres tonight at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. The film is called: Fight Church and was directed by Academy Award Winner Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel. These two men were also behind the interesting film called Holy Rollers, the story about Christian pastors who were also professional poker players.
Fight Church explores the niche world where MMA fighting and Christianity combine. The film proclaims an estimated 700 churches in America have MMA ministries.
The film is excellent in three areas. First, the production quality is superb. Junge, Storkel and the Producers know what they are doing and are skilled in their craft. Second, the film is excellent for presenting the world of Fight Church in a balanced way. They allow those in favor of MMA Christians and those opposed to each be seen in a legitimate light. Third, the film is simply enjoyable. As I struggled wondering if I am for or against these people I found myself cringing, laughing, disagreeing and pulling for these people throughout the film.
One of the seminal quotes in the film was from a man who was considering leaving the MMA world due to a belief that it may not honor God. He said, “Can you love your neighbor as yourself, and then at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?”
Some of the biblical exegesis by one of the pastors left a bit to be desired. Watching a 12-year old kid say he was going to, “Rip this kid’s head off” was unsettling. A pastor encouraging a woman with blood covering her face that she didn’t tap out with the statement, “Jesus didn’t tap out either” was very strange. Watching a pastor pull out a pistol after his sermon to show a church member was bizarre. There are many bizarre moments in this film.
This film is certainly a case where truth is stranger than fiction. People would only believe some of the details of this film as a documentary. It would be too outlandish to be a fictional movie.
I do recommend you watch this film. Try to be neutral and enter into the Fight Church world. Is it really that different from someone in the NFL? Are they faithful to the Bible? Are they rediscovering manliness in the Christian church? The film may ask more questions than it answers but I think you’ll enjoy the journey. If you can handle a little blood of course. If not then watch Frozen again with your kids for the 1,000th time.
Here’s the Fight Church trailer: