fight club

Fight Club graduates pose with a backdrop used for the club. From left are Max Beck, Andy Jewett, Rick Yoder and Jeremy Byng.

The first rule of “Fight Club” is don’t talk about Fight Club. But that was the movie. This is reality.

And in reality, the men at Grace Community Church aren’t just talking about Fight Club, they are shouting about it worldwide.

So why would a church endorse a fight club?

Well, Grace’s Fight Club isn’t a bunch of men pummelling each other in a basement.

Grace’s Fight Club is a band of brothers on a journey of spiritual, physical and emotional strengthening. Their mission: To become warriors of the faith, to reach out to the community and to be leaders in the home.

Fight Club founder and Grace’s lead pastor, Jim Brown, said, “If you get the man, you get the family. If you get the family, you get the community. If you get the community, you get the world.”

Brown had the idea about 10 years ago when he “began watching the dumbing down of men in our society.” Within the past two years, Brown said, God began to shape this idea and soon “all this flesh came to this skeleton that was there.”

“Men need to step up and to lead their homes,” he said. They need to not be passive, be visible and “do something that calls men out to something eternal.”

Step in Fight Club.

Its emblem — the griffin flanked by crosses.

Its basis — Nehemiah 4:14: “After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

Its method: Camaraderie, competition and challenge.

Its goal: To awaken Christian men from mediocrity; to strengthen them emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually; to resurrect a true masculine community; and to mobilize them for maximum impact in their families, churches and communities.

“Not all men will finish,” Brown said. “There is a three-strike rule.”

Grace’s Fight Club is ready to begin a third chapter (session). The chapters are 12 weeks long and there is usually an eight-week break in between.

The first chapter was, like any firsts, about introducing the program and seeing where it could be improved.

All chapters kick off at midnight. Why midnight?

“Because men can’t have an excuse,” Brown explained.

That first night 420 men came to learn about Fight Club. Those who joined were broken up into squadrons and received an accountability partner. Each squadron had a leader and every week the members were given an assignment. They wouldn’t know what the assignment would be until that week, Brown said.

The assignments and other activities were designed to be intellectual, relational, physical and spiritual.

“If they didn’t do one of the components, they’d receive a strike,” Brown said.

The main point is that the activities and assignments in Fight Club keep members intentional and on task. Every day they are in the Bible, memorizing Scripture. Completed assignments are posted on a closed Facebook page that only members of Fight Club have access to.

Men know they have a safe place to discuss issues, problems and joys, so a camaraderie develops because what they say is protected, Brown said.

“There’s a deep brotherhood there that quite frankly has surpassed anything we thought,” he said.

 The result of Fight Club at Grace has been a total transformation in men,” Brown said. There is now a brotherhood of servants, men who are volunteering and serving at church and beyond, proudly wearing a brown leather band with the Fight Club seal.

The band is given only to those who finish the 12-week chapter. The branding takes place at a graduation ceremony that the man’s family can attend. A metal star is added to the band for each chapter completed.

Brown emphasizes that Fight Club is not just a cool club to be a part of — it’s work, it’s standing for Jesus and being called out and held accountable when you’re not, and it’s being humble. Fight Club is not a clique. It’s a chance to serve in humility, a chance to impact others, a chance to spread the word of God.

“Every member has been impacted in a positive way on the journey,” Brown said. “And people are noticing.”

Rick Yoder has completed his second chapter. During Fight Club 2’s graduation, Yoder’s wife was asked if her husband was the same man as he was before.

Yoder said, “She replied, ‘He changed from a good man to a more godly man.’ And honestly, that’s the point of Fight Club.”

“It pushes us to discipline,” Yoder said, “disciplined in all areas of life. … If you’re not growing, you’re stagnating.”

And having the three strikes really, really pushes the men. “You don’t want to be that guy who didn’t make it,” Yoder said.

Because it is a team effort, some of the men took on strikes to save a brother — “to keep the brotherhood going,” he said.

The in between — the eight weeks off — were a little more difficult. Yoder would do pushup and sit ups, read Proverbs and developed his own goals.

“I hate goals,” Yoder said. “I do get things done, but it’s always difficult for me to set goals.” But in the end, it’s worth it, he said.

“I’d challenge any guy to do it,” he added. “Whatever point you are at in coming into Fight Club, it will make you stronger.”

And if the man’s strong, so is the home, so is the community and so is the world. With that in mind, the men of Grace decided to go global.

At the end of July, Pastor Brown, introduced Fight Club at the Vision 20/20 Leadership Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The first Fight Club kit went to a church in Haiti, many others have since followed going to churches around the States and Canada.

The kits, packaged in a military ammunition box, come with a sample wristband, a Fight Club brand, a Fight Club poster and a USB drive/multi-tool containing marketing pack (logos, photos and backgrounds for creating promotional slides, inserts or web content), Symbols of Victory Pack (T-shirt graphics and detail photos), a videos pack (Interviews, leader discussions and a trailer video), and a documents pack (important Fight Club documents in PDF format).

The cost is $249. Brown said the church is not making a profit off of the kit. The money will be used to create more kits and go back into the ministry.

“I think it could revolutionize the local church,” Brown said.

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