The New Christians

The New Christians

Youth Pastor Fight Club!

In Dallas, youth pastors are being trained in street fighting techniques in order to, um, “take care of their flock.” 

McKissack is spreading the Batman gospel to youth pastors in Dallas and
across the country. He hopes to convert them into followers of the
Keysi Fighting Method, the street fighting style used in recent
cinematic blockbusters.

McKissack figures that pastors
who know how to defend themselves against thugs can help protect the
children they lead at church – or on field trips to amusement parks or
on mission travels.

“It’s a sign of the times,” he said


Because, as the youth pastor says, “you never know what’s going to happen when you take the kids out of these four walls.” 

OK, first of all, I was a youth pastor for 20 years, taking kids to some pretty sketchy places like Lima, Peru and Juarez, Mexico.  And, while I occasionally felt that we were threatened, never once would the Keysi bob-and-weave have come in handy.

Secondly, I think we can safely say that teenagers are often just as threatened within the four walls as without.

The erstwhile youth pastor goes on to say, “I don’t think as Christians that we’re meant to be just stomped on.


(Jesus: “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.“)

Read the story and watch the video.

Comments read comments(25)
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posted March 1, 2009 at 10:06 am

We need to be careful with the topic of violence. On one hand, we serve the Prince of Peace who taught a Way of non-violence. As disciples of Jesus we should work for peace in all that we do. On the other hand, we serve the Clearer of the Temple who stood up to the evils and injustices of his day. As disciples of Jesus we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be passive in the face of evils and injustice.
The example that comes to mind is domestic violence. Teaching people who are victims of domestic violence to “turn the other cheek” or “bear one’s cross” may cause great harm. It could keep them stuck in those abusive relationships because of their desire to be faithful Christians. Instead of this passivity, they should be getting to safety and getting their abuser help. I have worked with people who have told me that these common phrases kept them “stuck” in abusive relationships. Now that they’ve gotten help, they advocate that people use much caution when suggesting to others that Christians are supposed to “turn the other cheek” and “bear one’s cross.”
I know that TJ would never suggest someone to stay in an abusive relationship, but we all need to be vigelent when using this kind of language. The following are some helpful resources that everyone who is a church leader should read. Some evil people need to be resisted.

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Theresa Seeber

posted March 1, 2009 at 11:00 am

Hmm. Interesting. Brian, you took it places I had not thought of initially when reading. Tony, you took kids to all those places? Very cool of you. What kinds of things did you do there? That is a strange thing, training youth pastors to be butt-kickers for their kids. Funny, but then again not funny. Weird to say the least.

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Mike L.

posted March 1, 2009 at 11:17 am

This is a sad story. It’s sad that anyone in a church leadership position would suggest violence is an option (even for protection). It clearly violates the teaching of Jesus.
Even Brian’s comment above is problematic. Non-violence is the way of Jesus, even in the face of domestic violence. But non-violence is not simple “taking it”. A non-violent, Jesus-like response to domestic violence would be to turn the other cheek, and then get the heck of there, and then seek real long term solutions. Striking back doesn’t help the situation. That is a core principle of the gospel. Forgiveness as opposed to revenge is the way. It does not mean staying in harms way. It means we resist the urge to retaliate with violence. It means we do retaliate, but only with non-violent protest and we seek systemic solutions to problems like domestic violence.

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posted March 1, 2009 at 11:57 am

oh my. I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to take self defense classes…the context is just a little silly. Like my husband said, these are a bunch of guys wanting to be in a boys’ club and play “bad ass” – which is fine, whatever floats your boat – but don’t say you’re doing it to protect the kids. sheesh. They don’t need to spiritualize it to make it justified.

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Sean WItty

posted March 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

“OK, first of all, I was a youth pastor for 20 years, taking kids to some pretty sketchy places like Lima, Peru and Juarez, Mexico. And, while I occasionally felt that we were threatened, never once would the Keysi bob-and-weave have come in handy.”
VERY funny, TJ.

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posted March 1, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Unfortunately, this season of Lent can make Jesus took like a passive Lamb led to slaughter who doesn’t complain (Isaiah 53:7). This Hebrew text is often used to suggest that Jesus, like the character in Isaiah, simply “takes it” for a good reason. This is not the best model for people facing domestic violence. I have given up Lent for Lent because of the damage that some of this season’s images have done to people I have known. Somehow we need to heal this season in order to heal those who have been harmed.

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posted March 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Dear TJ tell that to these guys. I guess they didn’t read their Bible as closely as you, or maybe just different parts.
@Brian, seriously!?!?!? People have used Lent to justify their “taking it” within the context of some kind of abuse/violence? I’m incredulous. Besides there is always this axiom: “Abusus non tollit usum” – abuse does not preclude proper use.

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posted March 1, 2009 at 7:20 pm

i think youth ministers should pack heat in order to protect the youth in their charge, especially when they go on these dangerous mission trips to exotic locations
i forget that gospel reference about taking the “two swords” but i guess this would be two firearms translating into today’s terms
first you pray
and if they don’t listen to what you say
then you blow them away
of course, you only do this after prayer and conversation and for defensive purposes when there are no other options
you don’t blast people without warning them

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posted March 2, 2009 at 8:37 am

Wasn’t there a book entitled “the cross and the switchblade” that dealth with the issue of urban violence and mission a long time ago?
Also, the story is about urban violence, not domestic relationship violence. Different kettles containing seperate sub-species.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 8:39 am

Scott, I think I need some clarification. Are you suggesting that causing others physical harm is a right that shouldn’t be taken away? Or are you suggesting that the violent images of Lent that I have mentioned shouldn’t be taken away? I don’t understand how you intended to use your maxim.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 8:48 am

There was an Evangelical leader who once said: “Well, I’m for peace too. But you’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I’m for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” This doesn’t make a youth minister fight club seem so extreme. Maybe this youth minister would repond to Tony’s post by saying, “Well, I’m for turnin the other cheek too. But you’ve got to beat the thugs before the beating stops. And I’m for the youth group to chase thugs all over Dallas. If it takes all of their time in high school, stomp them down in the name of the Lord.”

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posted March 2, 2009 at 10:58 am

What I mean is that if people have used the traditional practices of Lent (i.e. self-sacrifice) to justify their accepting abuse from others then they should in deed rethink their understanding of what Lent is all about. This however does not necessarily mean that they (or those who know/love them) should abandon Lent altogether (giving up Lent for Lent is, well, really just getting rid of Lent). If people abuse Lent as Christians it is presents a wonderful challenge to show what a healthy and proper Lenten practices look like.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Have any of you read anything by Walter Wink? Check out this youtube of Wink explaining the non-violent position of Jesus.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm


posted March 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I’m not sure about this one. I think I can go either way on it (To fight or not to fight, that is the question). It seems by the Scripture given that we are to always turn the other cheek, to not fight back, no matter what. I can understand that. By Christ’s example we are to live differently than the world.
But then looking at the context (Matt 5:38-42) pushes me further. So if we can’t fight, then we have to willingly give up more of our stuff if someone sues us, and we should be walking with people a whole lot more.
Are we to take this in a pure literallistic sense or in a pure spiritual one? Why not both? I think the real meaning about “turning the other cheek” is found in verse 42: “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” It seems to be more about pouring ourselves out to everyone no matter what. To give even when it hurts (sorry for the cliche and pun).
If, as Christians we are not to fight, then there should be no Christian soldiers, right? But, using the classic example, if someone breaks in to my house to hurt my family, am I to stand by and let that happen? Really? That doesn’t make sense to me.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

I can see a great usefulness if a pastor were able to take hit but deflect most of them until bringing an opponent into a submissive state. I do now think that hitting and or kicking is appropriate. Learn to non-violently physically defend yourself or others, and learn to do this while not hitting or striking back. Deflect and take down, forgive, heal, and grow.

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Lars Rood

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:17 am

Tony- Thought I’d post here because I’m familiar with those guys and their church. I can say that I think they are pretty normal. You and I both know that video’s and interviews can be cut any way to make a point. I had lunch over there last week and they are great people. Now I don’t know that I would want to be in a fight club that got on the news but I’d love to be in a fight club that didn’t. Imagine taking out some of your frustrations on a youth pastor just up the street. :)
On another note I challenged their youth staff to a fight yesterday thinking my staff could take them because we are much bigger. He replied back quickly that that fighting technique is useful against large numbers. See he even stopped me with his words.
On one last note that’s George and Laura Bush’s home church so maybe they are planning on taking on the terrorists that sneak in. (Said with a smile)

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posted March 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

how do you know Jesus wasn’t wrong in Matthew 5:39?

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Your Name

posted March 9, 2009 at 2:44 am

Tony and all,
This is Jeff McKissack with KFM responding.
I am doing nothing more for youth pastors than I do for security, law-enforcement, teachers, real estate agents, apartment leasing agents, etc. here in Dallas. I am simply teaching PEOPLE to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“Turn the other cheek” is a convenient response, until compared with other scriptures such as Luke 22:35,36 where Jesus himself advised his disciples to protect themselves on their journies. I have been asked if Jesus would advocate gun ownership. I think he would remain neutral, personally, so long as the intent WAS self-defense of home and family.
We call ourselves a “Christian nation,” and yet our Founding Fathers put the 2nd Ammendment into place. Coincidence?
Many others bring up the valid point that if this “turn the other cheek at all costs” is true for all Christians, than does this mean that no Christian should take on the role of police officer, military officer or similar? You cannot have it both ways. Either defense is a theologically sound concept or it is not.
Regarding the “bob and weave” motion you shot at, this was a moment on film you saw, hardly the full expanse of KFM training. A few of our federal agencies here in the U.S. are looking into KFM now for its close-quarters, multiple-assailant emphasis. I know because I have been in contact with them. And again, if it is good enough for those professionals, WHY NOT those in ministry? God called us to be LIVING sacrifices, afterall….

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Tony Jones

posted March 9, 2009 at 7:32 am

Jeff, Thanks for stopping by. I have been a volunteer police chaplain for 10 years, and I have occasionally been trained alongside the cops. I have great affection for my friends in law enforcement, and, unlike some of my more radical pacifist friends, I do not think that Christians should avoid police work. Military service is another matter, but I still think it possible for Christians to serve in the military.
I just found it ridiculous that youth pastors are being trained in self-defense, especially youth pastors at one of the richest churches in Texas. Maybe you should be training youth workers in the roughest parts of Dallas — they’re probably in more danger.
Even more ridiculous is your attempt to put Luke 22:35-36 on par with the Sermon on the Mount. Read some of the comments above yours and you’ll quickly see the problem with your hermeneutics.

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Jessica Riach

posted March 12, 2009 at 2:11 pm

i always wanted to be a pastor like a youth pastor. but what do i do if i am turned on? i’v bein turned on alot but i no no one is going to get in my way of helping kids. feel threatend? well deal with it talk to them ask what they want.

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jessica riach

posted March 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm

jesus is right in so many things he was so right in Matthew 5:39. man i wish i could gust make every thing right. like nothing roung.

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Your Name

posted May 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Tony, Well, we got the attention of at least one denomination of 12,000 churches who do appreciate our approach. They have invited us to exhibit this year at their national convention for pastors, youth pastors, etc. Their take was this is something that should at least be “presented” to churches and pastors, letting them make their own decision.
However, they readily admit that the idea of “personal defense” when taking youth overseas IS taking its toll, especially with movies like “Taken” with Liam Neeson now in the back of parents’ minds. It has nothing to do with kids being Christian…but more about them being American and possibly naive to the wolves out in the world. At the end of the day each person should “work out his own salvation with fear and trembling” but I cannot in any clear conscience tell a person to sit back and let their wife be assaulted or their kids taken and NOT respond in some physical manner.
The “bob and weave” you mentioned in your initial response was done in a very particular way for this group of first-timers to get them used to the “concept” more than the actual implementation. The guys you saw in that clip were (after all) doing this for the “first” time. Wanna go into any standard martial arts school doing a first-timer intro and compare…lol? Just give it some time, buddy…;-)

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posted May 17, 2009 at 10:22 pm

One other thing. The “wealthy church” who sponsored that one event opened it up to youth pastors from some very rough areas of DFW. One youth pastor who attended lives in a gang-ridden neighborhood in Arlington where his church members are literally afraid to do door-to-door evangelism due to drive-by shootings in their area. In fact, he had one teen stabbed at school the week before he attended from his youth group. And it was done by another kid in his youth group.
Highland Park Methodist saw this as an “outreach” to those very type of youth pastors and churches you alluded to.

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