Just what are churches doing with SuperBowl Sunday.
Well, some like St. John are doing Souper Bowl Sunday. Its not too late to involve your church or youth or children in the Souper Bowl of Caring for this Sunday. Simply grab a soup pot and collect donations, report your collection amount to souperbowl.org, and send 100% of your donations to the charity of your choice. It's that easy! We asked our members to bring can food or money Sunday morning or evening. They Youth are collecting.
Some are using the event as an evangelism tool.
Some are having youth tailgate parties.
Some may not be doing anything at all.
The following was in the paper today:
Pines Baptist has been holding Super Bowl events for a few years and expects about 300 people, mostly men, at its flag football game and watch party this year. The church drew about 250 people to a block party Jan. 13 which featured NFL-themed games, former Dolphins players signing autographs and giveaways including a plasma television.
Acosta said the church doesn't take a heavy-handed approach to nonbelievers who join in such events. There won't be so much as a prayer at the Super Bowl Sunday event. If a guest enjoys himself, a member might invite him to a church social group meeting, then maybe a Bible study, then perhaps an actual service.
"We just follow God's lead," Acosta said.
Pastor Mike Pierce of the non-denominational Poplar Creek Church in the Chicago suburb of Bartlett, Ill., takes a similar approach. About 100 people will watch the game on the big screen in the sanctuary. Like other church events - including a carnival, a play and a pig roast - it's meant to simply create a friendly, fun environment, but not an overtly religious one.
"We don't turn everything into a spiritual event," Pierce said. "Good, clean fun is still spiritual."
Many pastors agree, simply trying to make their churches welcoming environments for new guests. Carrollwood Baptist Church in Tampa has been holding a Super Bowl gathering for more than 15 years and attendees have become so comfortable at the event that some bring recliners from home.
"I like it because it's very laid back," said Robert Smith, a 32-year-old Rockford, Ill., resident who has attended Super Bowl parties at Dominion Christian Center there. "There's no pressure."
Churches also are aware many people are unwilling to do anything other than watch the game on Super Bowl Sunday.
"We can offer a good event surrounding something the culture uses or we can just hold church and no one's going to come," said Jim Waters, an associate pastor and minister to students at First Baptist Church in Milton in the Florida Panhandle.
Like many other churches holding Super Bowl events, the Milton congregation will screen "Power to Win," a video featuring Christian NFL stars, during halftime.
Some churches are using the Super Bowl as an opportunity to reach the poor.
A number of Nashville churches will host the homeless, feeding them, washing their clothes, letting them watch the game on big-screen TVs and giving them a bed to sleep in on Super Bowl Sunday. And at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Libertyville, Ill., members will gather donations to help fund the parish food pantry, another one for the larger community, and a school under construction for African orphans.
William Baker, a retired University of Maine professor who has written two books about sports and religion, says the interplay between the two dates back to ancient times, and that in modern-day America, evangelical Christians make the most of the relationship. He calls sports part of the new "American trinity" - along with religion and patriotism.
"Any visitor from Mars on Super Sunday, whether he watches television or goes to the stadium in Miami," Baker said, "would say these people believe, maybe in God, but for sure they believe in the American flag and in the flyover military display and in patriotism, but most surely they believe in sports."
Baker said evangelicals had long rejected sports - for the gambling it often fueled, for it often being played on the Sabbath and for the general bacchanalia that it was associated with. But they eventually realized they shared athletes' win-or-lose take on the world (only one team steps off the field victorious, and only believers are rewarded after death) and wanted to take advantage of the immense reach of athletic competition.
"Sport becomes a kind of fish hook to catch the unbelievers," he said.
But if you haven't see this yet you need to read it: NFL to churches: Parties violate copyright laws
"It's just a good opportunity to get everybody together, have some fellowship and fun and watch the Super Bowl," business manager Bill Kaler said.
But temple leaders scrapped the idea after learning the NFL stopped a similar get-together at another Indianapolis church, saying it would violate copyright laws.
"I didn't realize the Super Bowl was a copyrighted thing," Kaler said.
Neither did several congregations around the country that have since curtailed or abandoned party plans to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the law.
Church leaders say the Super Bowl has turned into an annual way to connect with their community.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said these gatherings are fine, as long as the churches stay within certain guidelines. That's where Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis went wrong.
The church planned to charge admission to cover the food tab for its party and show the game on a big screen using a projector. It also promoted its "Super Bowl bash" on the church Web site.
Those are some copyright no-no's. The league's long-standing policy is to ban "mass out-of-home viewing" of the Super Bowl except at sports bars and other businesses that televise sports as part of their everyday operations, Aiello said.
Places are prohibited from charging admission to watch the Super Bowl, and the law prevents them from showing the game on a TV bigger than 55 inches.
Okay, but tell me this what are churches doing charging admission for things that have to do with Evangelism? I am not sure I remember Jesus or the early church charging admission for evangelism. But I do remember something about the temple leaders turning the temple into a den of theives.
Our party Sunday evening is free for everyone. We are bringing food, drinks, and games. It'll be fun.