raveShould the Church compete with the NFL on Super Bowl Sunday or use the event for cultural engagement?

I am going to experiment with posing a conversation starting question every Sunday that has something to do with applied ecclesiology or “being the Church”. Since it is Super Bowl Sunday, one of the most celebrated cultural holy days, it seems quite natural to discuss how the Church should respond.

For some today is an opportunity to evangelize. Many local churches will connect a television to a projector in the sanctuary in order to watch the game on a big screen. This provides a touch point for the Church with popular culture. People who wouldn’t come to our buildings for other reasons may come to watch the Super Bowl, and then (we hope) these people will realize Christians are normal, and this may be a way of easing them into our religion.

Others use this day to rant against culture. In the Pentecostal circles of my youth we had worship gatherings at 10 AM and then sometime in the evening. Pastors were aware that if there wasn’t a grand denouncement of the Super Bowl in the morning there would be minimum attendance in the evening. Many times I heard something like this: “Who is your God? Jesus or [enter NFL team or player here]? Where do you worship? In front of the television or in the house of God?” Thankfully, my father was an atheist with no religious commitments, so if I could avoid my mother’s critical eye that afternoon I could feel better about staying home with my father to watch the game.

Some local churches, especially those who have to meet in the afternoon or evening for one reason or another, compete with the Super Bowl if that local church chooses to go forward with meeting at the scheduled time.

What are your thoughts? How should the Church respond to sporting events like the Super Bowl, or the World Series, or the World Cup?