Get Punched in the Face (for Jesus)

FaithStreet is all about connecting people with churches, even those that are “less traditional” than others. In a new feature here on the blog, each week we’ll highlight weird, wild and wonderful churches from around the country. Do you lead or belong to a church that’s definitely not your mama’s ministry? Contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

This week, we came across Victory Church in Rochester, NY. From the outside, it seems like a run of the mill Christian church. Then you learn that senior pastor Pat Burress also happens to run a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) team out of the church’s basement.

Though it sounds odd (and dangerous), Burress doesn’t combine faith with fighting out of malice or to capitalize on a weird trend – he happened to be both an MMA enthusiast and a man of God, and he figured “why not combine them?”

“I’m good at fighting and I’m good at telling people about Jesus.  So I don’t think God wants you to be this person on one day and another person on another day.  He wants you to be the you he made you,” he told Fox Sports.

It’s not really that outlandish, if you think about it. Sports and faith are inextricably linked, and it’s not unheard of for churches to offer sports and fitness-centric ministries. MMA, though it appears brutal, has evolved to become as much a sport as anything else. Whether you believe it’s possible to love thy neighbor while applying a guillotine choke, of course, is another matter altogether.

Burress’ story is so compelling (and controversial) that filmmakers Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel were inspired by Burress and similar churches (yes, there are more) to make a documentary. The film, called Fight Church, premiers April 24 in Boston. Check out the trailer below.