CrossFit Bible Study


CrossFit Bible Study

By Tim Benjamin

One of the first things you learn about CrossFit is that it has it’s own vocabulary – a gym is referred to as a “box” due to its Spartan design and absence of mirrors. Apart from that, the people at Coweta CrossFit are a group of fairly normal people. We happen to choose a workout regimen that is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity, but the definition of high intensity is up to the individual athlete. 

Our Bible study (called Functional Faith) at Coweta CrossFit isn’t that different than most. We start with a prayer, read a scripture verse, and try to understand the deeper meaning of it. A lot of times we will go back to the original Hebrew or Greek – our group is strong, and they are also pretty smart. I suppose what makes it different is that it's not necessarily a group of people who would go to church (some do). And, we do it sitting on gym benches, not chairs or a table.

We seem to find an unlimited amount of parallels between the Bible and CrossFit. Shared suffering, persistence, mutual support, pushing personal boundaries, etc. We do our best to make sure the Biblical application can tie into a CrossFit application.

The story of CrossFit Functional Faith really isn’t my story. It is God’s story of patiently pushing for 5 years. It is the story of the gym owner. It is the story of some of the members.

One of my former pastors used to say “you can’t argue with a changed life,” and we have a few examples of that. In October of 2016, I asked the gym owner how he felt about letting me facilitate a Bible Study in his box. 

Now to understand the magnitude of that question, you need to understand the person. On the inside, there are few people that are as kind and caring and empathetic. On the outside, however, the first thing you see is a tough as nails, former Army sniper and fitness instructor persona. Complete with that persona was an articulated viewpoint that religion was fine for other people, but just keep it to yourself, and we will get along fine. He was agnostic on a good day, so you can imagine I was a little nervous about what the answer was going to be. 

He went along with the idea, but it was more than that. See, I started this project to honor God but my first mistake was trying to decide myself who God really wanted to come. As it turns out, no one has been as consistent an attendee as the gym owner, and no one has gone through the personal growth that he has. He has gone from being an agonistic to being a believer. No one had ever taken the time to explain that the Bible is a three million word love letter, and once he saw God’s grace and the evidence of the love of Jesus, he was slowly turned.

Now that I've seen what God can do outside the walls of a church, I can see that this would work many more places than a gym. It could happen wherever you have a sphere of influence.

I believe that this Bible study wouldn’t have had the same level of success if we tried to start it 5 years ago. It took those years to build credibility and respect with my peers. Day one, I would have been viewed as a religious nut-job, and there would be no trust whatsoever. But after 5 years of literal blood, sweat and tears together, shared suffering builds a common bond. We care for each other, and we have seen each other at our weakest and at our worst. Once you see someone in that state and realize you can coexist and communicate, you are pretty open to listening to their point of view.  

Where is your sphere of influence? Sure, it is easier inside the body of a church, because there is little risk of pushback from non believers. But where do you have friends outside the church? Book club? Parents from your kid's sports team? Other volunteer organizations? Listen to how God is calling you and be ready for an intense ride!
Tim Benjamin is a member of Peachtree City United Methodist Church and leader of the Coweta CrossFit Functional Faith

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