Sunday, April 12, 2009
An Easter Message
You want to get men into church? This ain't the way:
    On the Sunday before Easter, the Rev. Tom Skiles bounded onto a stage in the gym of Simpson Elementary School here.

    Spirit of St. Louis Church's praise band had just finished four chest-thumping Christian rock tunes, complete with light show, and Skiles' flock of about 100 was settling into the metal folding chairs lined up in front of the stage.

    "This is an awesome time of year, and I'm really pumped about what's about to happen," Skiles said. The pastor, 36, his head shaved, was dressed in jeans and blazer over a red T-shirt and spoke into his headset microphone.

    What's about to happen at SOS Church is a connection between the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the spinal cranks, head butts and anaconda chokes of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. As Skiles spoke, a large screen behind him projected the red UFC logo on a chain-link background, a reference to the cage in which UFC fighters do battle.

    The church rents space each Sunday from the school, and on Easter the gym will be outfitted with an octagonal ring where Skiles will begin a four-week preaching theme based on the hugely popular sport of extreme fighting, or mixed martial arts. MMA, as fans know it, combines a variety of fighting techniques, from punching to kicking to elbowing to choking.
This is:
    The Barna Group, a Christian research organization, has shown in surveys over the last decade that women attend church in much greater numbers than men.
Call it the "Surf City" strategy: tell the guys that there are two girls for every boy, and you'll find a lot more boys interested in going. Why churches and universities don't play this up, I don't understand.

Well, except for the universities. That would be objectivating the girls.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."