Every Christian Needs a Good Fight Club

CoMo Christian Men's Conference

This past Saturday (Feb. 7), along with several of my buddies, I attended the Second Annual CoMo Christian Men’s Conference held at the historic Missouri Theatre downtown. Honestly, I can’t say enough positive things about the conference or the speakers, musicians, pastors and businessmen who helped make it a reality.

I knew it was going to be a great day when the first speaker – Rod Handley of Character That Counts – started off by telling the crowd what a mess his life was before he came clean and started living in the light with other guys. Essentially, Handley was advocating that every man in the audience work toward having other guys in his life with whom he can be entirely transparent, following the biblical admonition that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). Or, if you are from Detroit and need to understand this concept in more immediately-accessible terms, you might have heard Handley saying, “You really need to get yourself into a Fight Club.”

If you’ve seen the 1999 David Fincher film starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, you might misinterpret what I am saying to mean “You need to trade punches with someone.” That’s not what I’m saying. Instead, I simply mean that every man needs to be in relationship with one or two other dedicated Christians who will not allow them to squeak by with “Hey, how ya doing?” “I’m fine!” What we need more than anything during our stay here on Earth is a committed cadre of friends who know us as we really are, not as we pretend to be – and who stubbornly choose to love us exactly where we are, right now, messes and all. Instead of trading physical blows to the body, the members of a Christian Fight Club (CFC) take aim at each other’s souls, seeking rather to sharpen one another and prepare each other for The Day when we will meet the Lord. Alone.

Fight ClubTo bring clarity to what I mean by “Every guy needs a Fight Club,” I’d like to usurp the rules of the movie Fight Club and use them as instruments for a far deeper and ever-raging battle, namely our daily scraps with the world, the flesh and the devil (1 John 2:16):

  • The First Rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Men cannot sharpen one another while wondering if their deepest, darkest secrets are going to be Tweeted later in the day or posted to Facebook. Absent a safe environment where we can confidently bare our souls, zero growth will take place.
  • The Second Rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Trusting relationships are slow to build and quick to demolish. Build your trusting relationships with all care and wisdom. Go slow at first; do not over-share with someone in the first round. If your trust is betrayed – even a little – dissolve the Fight Club at once, and look for other, more trustworthy friends.
  • Third Rule of Fight Club: Someone yells “Stop,” goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fight Club needs to be voluntary and mutual; if one member of the group never reveals his innermost thoughts, the other two (three is an optimal number) can’t really be blamed for suspecting that this third member is a “lurker,” i.e. someone who just enjoys finding out dirt about other people so he can feel better about himself. Dissolve the group, keep looking for trustworthy combatants.
  • Fourth Rule: Only two guys to a fight. Well, maybe not. As mentioned above, it seems to me that three really is optimal for the formation of a Fight Club. In some circumstances, I can see where four or five might work, but more than that and the CFC becomes more about worrying about the perceptions of others and less about doing the deep digging required. Two is great for prayer and Bible study, but I’ve found it most effective to live out 1 John 1:9 with two other guys, not just one.
  • Fifth Rule: One fight at a time, fellas. Christians can get so hung up on trying to make themselves “perfect” (as if that could ever happen) that they often try to “fix” everything, and can lose sight of which fire is burning most out-of-control in their lives. An absurd example might be the husband who worries about his use of chewing tobacco while largely ignoring his online flirtations with an old high school flame. Should he quit using tobacco? Maybe it’s a wise thing to stop, but it has far less eternal significance than the infidelity of his online flirtation. Far better to focus on one battle at a time; two other guys will be able to see this sort of nonsense and help him hone in on what is most dangerous to his soul.
  • Sixth Rule: No shirts, no shoes. OK, so admittedly this one doesn’t entirely work for our analogy, but let’s just say instead that when we enter into a Fight Club with a couple other guys, we need to be “clothed” in humility (Colossians 3:12). Otherwise, we need to set aside all the things we use to cover ourselves and be transparent with those in our CFC. After all,that’s the whole point of having a Fight Club, right? To be open with a few trusted individuals about the ugliest parts of ourselves as a means of helping each other live in the light? If you’re not going to go into your Fight Club with a “No shirts, no shoes” policy, then there’s no reason to have one. Everyone is just wasting their time and pretending to be spiritual.
  • Seventh Rule: Fights will go on as long as they have to. To be most effective, Fight Club should meet regularly, perhaps every two weeks or so, in a safe and private setting. There needs to be some sort of time commitment on the front end – at least four months – so that the members get a chance to test the waters, perhaps develop a friendship outside of Fight Club, and not cut and run at the first sign of trouble or burden. Expect to have problems establishing your Fight Club; the dead last thing the enemy of our souls wants is for us to get together regularly, trust one another, and dive into God’s plan for our lives to flourish.
  • And the Eighth and Final Rule: If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight. The truth is that you are in a fight for your soul each and every day. If you don’t battle with trusted friends by your side, you go into battle alone. Most of us, sadly, wake up and begin staging Fight Club within the privacy of our own tormented hearts. Many doubts, questions and complaints go unspoken each and every day. How refreshing it is – for me, anyway – to have a few close friendships wherein I can take my phone out and text “OK, I am crazy again” and expect a call or follow-up text within an hour or two. No judgment, no condemnation, no harshness whatsover; instead, I have reassurance that I am not walking this out alone and that, together, we will keep after the issues at hand until one or more of us relaxes into “the peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7).

I find it much easier to invite guys to a “Fight Club” than ask them to begin an accountability group. Guys being the knuckleheads that we are, it just seems to go down easier. A Christian Fight Club may fulfill the exact same role as that of a “Men’s Fellowship” or “Christian Accountability Meeting” but at least it sounds tougher and more manly. And it has the added bonus of rightly insinuating that this is going to be a battle – we are going to get together and exchange blows to the ego and several hard-rights to our pride, by far the greatest enemy we all share.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

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