Pastor Steve Reynolds of Capital Baptist Church in Annandale, Va., is offering parishioners who seek to lose weight a motivation that's higher than simply wanting to look good: honoring God.
"I want to show people – all types of people, especially Christian people – that we're made by God, but we're also made for God, and we need to honor him with our bodies," the pastor told TODAY.com.
Reynolds heads a weight loss competition program called "Bod4God" at Capital Baptist Church that has assisted members of his congregation in losing over 12,000 pounds since 2007, TODAY reported. Reynolds himself has lost a whopping 120 pounds with the program.
The basis of the program is an important commandment all Christians know: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Pastor Reynolds believes that people who are overweight may be putting their love of food over their love of God.
According to Reynolds, putting too much emphasis on eating cheeseburgers and fries gives junk food too much power over one's life, placing a hindrance on your relationship with God while simultaneously making you unhealthy.
Reynolds sees the program as healthy and empowering.
"It gives you power to know that you're never alone, that God is with you," Reynolds told TODAY. "And that he gives you that motivation and that willpower that you need."
But whether or not Reynolds' program continues to see success, the correlation between attending church and issues with weight is becoming more and more public. Last March, a study found that young people who attended weekly church activities were 50 percent more likely to become obese when they're middle aged.
Another recent study found Reynolds' theory of making weight loss a faith-based group effort to be effective.
Researchers used Bible verses to establish a 12-week program in an effort to prevent diabetes. The research found that almost half of the obese and overweight African-American subjects in the study lost at least five percent of their body weight and were able to keep the weight off for six months.