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Is CrossFit a church?

Is CrossFit a church?

Image from article on CrossFit & Church
Mark Oppenheimer, NY Times religion Beliefs columnist, explores the lives of committed CrossFitters, asking if it isn’t a replacement for both the secular and spiritual aspects of church.

Oppenheimer focuses on the Ali Huberlie, an education consultant in Boston, who lives with the boyfriend she met through CrossFit in an apartment near the gym the two attend. The implication–that community and our life paths are affected by CrossFit–places it in the historic role that church life played for many people.

Huberlie is the focus of the story because she was interviewed by Casper ter Kuile and Angie Thurston, the Harvard Divinity Students who co-authored “How We Gather“, a study on the ways in which secular spaces are increasingly used to accomplish many of the goals of religious spaces.

From the article:

“CrossFit is family, laughter, love and community,” Ms. Huberlie told the researchers, who quoted her in their study, “How We Gather.” “I can’t imagine my life without the people I’ve met through it.”

The Times isn’t the first outlet to write about this; the blog “Tough Church Planting” provided a humorous list of the 7 ways in which CrossFit out-churches church in February.

Do you think the rise in secular communities like CrossFit has any lessons for the Church? Do you think it’s a coincidence that churches are in decline as secular alternatives grow?


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Ann Fontaine

Yet at the same time – groups that used to draw commitment are fading, Masons, Elks, bowling, etc. Why Crossfit and not those?

John Chilton

David – Thought provoking. – Thanks.

Leslie Marshall

I enjoyed reading about the Cross Fit phenomenon in my NYTimes. They seem happy with their choice, and I can see how what they do together is a positive, & bonding experience.

I don’t think there are more secular groups now than in the past… I myself grew up at the Yacht Club. All our family’s sports, social events, vacations, (& now poignantly Memorial Services at sea), were with our Yacht Club friends, a close knit, family-oriented group. The difference being, we all went to our respective churches/synagogues on the Sabbath, then met up afterwards. There was a spill-over influence that was good for the whole group.

I think the increased time spent in secular groups at the expense of belonging to The Church (body of Christ) is more of a commentary on individuals –not The Church.

Santa Barbara County

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