Fight Club Rules

Fight ClubOne of the difficult parts of running a Bible study group, especially a group consisting of teenage boys, is to get the group to open up and share what they really think. One way I have found to be really helpful is to institute Fight Club Rules.

Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, is one of my favourite movies. A bunch of young men beating each other up in a symbolic attempt to recapture their dignity and purpose in a post modern world. So what’s the connection between Fight Club and Bible study? Do I get the guys to literally fight for their argument? Will dodgy exegesis earn you an uppercut? Or is it something else?

As the movie Fight Club will tell us, the first rule of the underground Fight Clubs is “There is no Fight Club.” The second rule of Fight Club is “There is no Fight Club.” What goes on inside the club is private and is to stay inside the club.  The brawls are self contained and do not carry on to the streets outside and they are not to be the topic of water cooler discussions the next day.

Fight Club Rules in Bible study mean that what goes on in the group, stays in the group. This rule is established the first time the group meets together and is reestablished each time a new member joins. If someone shares something personal and private, it is not to be shared outside of the group. The only exception to this rule is if there is a child protection issue that I’m required to report. This exception to the rule is explained from the start.

The second part of Fight Club Rules is the No-Pay-Out Rule. While this clearly wasn’t a part of the movie, I’m putting it in there anyway because I can. When the Bible study is in session, no one in the group is allowed to insult, belittle, or in any other way “pay out” on any other member. If someone says something stupid, no one is allowed to pay them out. If someone rocks up with a bad haircut, no one is allowed to pay them out. If someone earnestly attempts to answer a question and comes off sounding stupid or slow, no one is allowed to pay them out.

Fight Club Rules create an environment of safety. Reduced is the fear of having a go and saying what you think. There is an increased sense of feeling welcomed and valued. No body is allowed to elevate themselves by dragging others down. And because this rule is understood from the get go, the participants feel like they (and their contribution) are valued.

Fight Club Rules has worked really well with the guys I’ve met with in Bible study this year. I’m certain the same rules would enhance a girl group as well, but I’m thinking that the name would be off putting. The guys really click with the blokey sounding name to the rules. What would you call it in a girls group to make it more appealing? Something to think about…

Fight Club Rules. You know you want it.

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About Joel A Moroney

Associate Minister at St Luke's Anglican Church, Liverpool (in the Sydney Diocese). A very strange man, but he usually has Pez, so that makes it okay.
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