A number of Sunday night services were moved or canceled this past weekend to accommodate members who wanted to watch the Super Bowl, after it presented a conflict with regular service times.
NewSpring in Anderson, South Carolina, a megachurch with five campuses, held services Saturday night as it anticipated that most members would skip Sunday services to watch football.
“We know the game is important so we’re moving the service times to better fit your schedule,” NewSpring wrote on its website. “This will allow us to reach more people that week and give you more opportunities to invite your friends and family.”
New Life in Everett, Washington canceled Sunday night services altogether.
“We decided not to do our 6 p.m. service,” leader Jim Romack told Herald Net. “It’s such an exciting Sunday; we would like the church staff and members to enjoy the Super Bowl with friends and family.”
Arvada Church of Christ in Arvada, Colorado likewise dispensed of the regular services on Sunday evening.
Other congregations dressed in Super Bowl apparel for the morning services, and some, such as North Sound in Edmonds, Washington, held tailgating parties before an after the morning services.
Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill in Seattle, Washington, recognized the dilemma in a recent blog post, stating that he understands both sides of the issue.
“On one side of the debate, we have Team Outreach,” he explained. “These are the churches who adjust their regular Sunday activities and rally around the big game as a worthwhile opportunity to connect with neighbors.”
“On the other side, there’s Team Righteous,” Driscoll continued. “These churches conspicuously ignore the Super Bowl in an effort to avoid idolizing the unholy trinity of gluttony, violence, and advertising.”
He explained that Mars Hill would be broadcasting the Super Bowl at the church, but would not cancel services for the event.
“Even when the hometown team is playing in the biggest game of the year, we do not cancel services,” Driscoll said. “I’ll be preaching live to represent Team Jesus. We’ll turn the game on after the service, but until then it’s church as usual.”
Perry Noble, megachurch speaker at NewSpring, asserted that he was being an effective evangelist in moving the services to accommodate those who wanted to watch the Super Bowl.
“I believe by taking our Sunday night service and moving it to Saturday night, we’re being effective missionaries in our culture,” he told the Washington Post. “It allows us to reach as many people as we can with a message. People enjoy it more. They don’t have to choose between church and the Super Bowl. I think it’s a way more effective method of reaching people. We could still do church on Sunday night. We’d prove a point, but wouldn’t make a difference.”
But blogger Christian Pundit said that skipping church for the Super Bowl 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,” he wrote. “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.
Photo: Brandan Schulze