Fight Night at Church
After participating in a conference for Women in Ministry, in Atlanta, Georgia last week, I learned of the death of my 24-year-old nephew. At first thought you might wonder what one event has to do with the other. So, let me explain. During the conference there was much discussion about the issues of the church today. We discussed the tragedies of the 21st century and the impact they have on the church. One of the tragedies mentioned by Dr. Claudette Copeland of San Antonio, Texas was the “deconstruction of doctrine”. Simply put, “we are not talking about the cross!” A second tragedy named by Dr. Copeland was “the decapitation of authority”, or the lack of headship. On the heels of these discussions, I learned that my nephew, George Clinkscale, III died after participating in an event called “Fight Night”, hosted by a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When I received the information concerning the events surrounding George’s death, my emotions shifted to another level. I could not fathom that a church was hosting an event called “Fight Night”. I was appalled to say the least. My first questions were, “What?” and “Why?” What does fighting have to do with the ministry of the church? And why is a church sponsoring, hosting and promoting such violence? I am not at liberty to go into the details that took place Wednesday evening, September 21, but I cannot ignore this growing problem in the Body of Christ. Have we become so creative and out of the box with our thinking that our image is anything but the image of Christ? How does a “fight night” contribute to the mission of the church? Was it categorized as evangelism or discipleship? This unsanctioned event is presently under investigation, and rightfully so. The proper authorities will ultimately judge the matter in a court of law. Although, I must say, the concept of “fight night” is reminiscent of the days of Roman gladiators who entertained audiences in the Roman Empire. These slaves offered an example of Rome’s martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim. I wonder what the leadership of the sponsoring church thinks of my nephew now? Did he die well? My concern for the Body of Christ is increasing. If the church is to be the visible image of Christ, we cannot afford to lose sight of our mission. We were commissioned to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”. We were not commissioned to bring the world’s systems into the church. I am afraid that the obsession with numbers and the need to be different has made room for unbridled behavior and activity in the church. Accountability is at a minimum and whatever is determined to be a good idea among a few creative thinking individuals goes unchecked. The media is filled with the names of pastors and ministers who have been found lacking in the area of firm principles and integrity. I dare not take an occasion to sit as a judge or question ones call; however, right and wrong, and black and white are clear. At some point those of us who take our calling seriously, possess firm principles and are clear about lifting the name of Christ, have to speak up. The outlandish attempts to make the church relevant to this society have gotten out of hand. We should understand and preach to the times, but we cannot afford to let the times dictate the mission of Christ’s Church! This reality is not just now becoming apparent to me. This was the case prior to my nephew’s death. The tragedy of his death is just another painful confirmation. It is my understanding that “fight night” is a new trend in many multicultural churches. This trend must be ended before someone else’s son or daughter is seriously hurt, or loses his, or her life. As a pastor, I am obligated to revisit the programs offered in our ministry. It is my responsibility to ensure that our emphasis is on the mission of the church. The preaching of the gospel, evangelism and discipleship must be the priority. As we lift the name of Christ, He will add to the church. We must be clear about our message. I am asking for those who agree that this type of mission missing initiative must be eliminated from our churches to simply sign your name to a petition. There isn’t anything any of us can do to bring George back, but we don’t have to allow his death to be in vain. Please help to support the effort of raising the level of awareness in our churches and communities.