A number of congregations nationwide decided to move or cancel their Sunday night services so that members can watch the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots during the Super Bowl instead.
The Public Religion Research Institute recently conducted a study that found that 18 percent of Americans are more likely to skip church on a Sunday to watch football, and that statistic is no greater than on Super Bowl Sunday. Therefore, to accommodate those who likely will choose football over church, a number of congregations nationwide decided to either cancel or move their services this weekend.
Mariners Church in Huntington Beach, Calif. canceled its Sunday night services and will instead throw neighborhood “house parties” for the game.
“On Super Bowl Sunday, there will NOT be a Sunday night service at 6 p.m. Instead, we will meet in houses all over the city to watch the BIG GAME!” it wrote on its website. “Let’s be in our community by throwing or attending a Super Bowl party!”
Calvary Church in Manheim Township, Pa. moved its 6 p.m. Bible study up one hour so that members could finish studying the Bible in time to watch the game.
“Some have said ‘You are accommodating the culture,’” leader Beau Eckert told reporters, adding that he doesn’t see anything wrong with the practice. “We encourage people to get together and watch the game and enjoy the fellowship.”
Some congregations decided to show the Super Bowl right at their facility.
First Spanish Assembly of God in Lancaster said that it will squeeze in its night service during the break.
“At halftime, we will have a little church service,” newly-appointed pastor Luis Figueroa explained.
Life Church in Tulsa, Okla., one of the largest churches in the nation with over 20 locations, held a Super Bowl themed service last night. According to reports, a giant inflatable Spartans helmet was placed outside of the entrance, and member Gannon Brown cooked hot dogs for attendees in an outdoor tent.
“The premise behind this all is that Super Bowl weekend is a huge weekend that attracts a lot of attention,” he told Tulsa World as he cooked approximately 1,200 hot dogs. “It’s a great way to invite people, to get people through the doors that maybe wouldn’t.”
Leader Craig Groeschel presented a message entitled “30 Second Theology,” which centered on life-lessons found in Super Bowl commercials.
Life Bridge Church in Taylor, Mich. held a “puppy bowl” this morning, bringing in 12 puppies from an area pet store to face off at the facility. According to the News-Herald, videos of testimonies from NFL stars were also played for attendees, who were welcomed to stay for food and snacks.
“Life Bridge Church has always been focused on demonstrating the caring and generous heart of our Christian beliefs in our community,” Grant Agler, the teaching pastor at Life Bridge Church, told the publication. “Our annual Super Bowl Sunday is just one of those many activities and events.”
But some state that that skipping church for the Super Bowl, or revolving the service around the game, actually presents a bad witness to the world.
“Do Christians in other nations, say, South Korea, Norway, Germany, Ethiopia or Peru, cancel church services on Super Bowl Sunday? If it’s just an American phenomenon, American Christians might want to think this over,” wrote blogger Christian Pundit last year. “Would it be okay if Europeans or Latin or South Americans, who tend to be very big soccer fans, called off church services for whatever big soccer games they have? Most American Christians would probably say no to that.”
“Is your allegiance to Jesus Christ or to the NFL?” he asked.