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SUPER BOWL PARTY POOPERS

 

 

 

By Paul Proctor

February 6, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

Churches across America have been competing for the attention of sports fans for years. As most of us are well aware, the Super Bowl has evolved into more than just a big game. It's now an all-day extravaganza. In fact, there's so much pre-game hoopla now, the kickoff doesn't come until late in the day, putting it in direct competition with evening church services.

To address this annual interruption, church leaders concluded somewhere back there: "If you can't beat 'em - join 'em." And so, the Church Super Bowl party was born.

Instead of simply staying at home or heading out to some sports bar to watch the game in postponed shame and make apologies or excuses later for choosing football over faith, many decided to just take the big game to church with them as if that somehow made it holy. As the numbers and excitement around megachurch big screens grew, another golden calf emerged.

But of course, those few not given to compromise objected to the idea since it unduly elevated a sporting event to idol status, redirecting Sunday praise and worship, normally reserved for the God of the universe, to the gods of the gridiron where felt needs trump Christian creeds and old school notions like personal sacrifice, sanctification, edification and holiness are sidelined in the interest of expediency and appetite. More, it seemed, needed to be done to bring these objectors onboard the Good Ship Relevance so they'd stop rocking it.

Then a shrewd voice whispered into an anxious pastor's ear: "Turn objections into opportunities. Lure the lost to church on Super Bowl Sunday with your TV and refreshments. Not only will it ease the brethren's conscience and silence the critics, it will henceforth be called 'evangelism.'"

And what Christian in his right mind would dare object to that?

This worked pretty well until last year when, according to ABC News, John D. Newland, pastor of Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, started charging $3 admission to his church's Super Bowl viewing party.

In an ABC News article titled, NFL Sacks Church Super Bowl Parties, Marcus Baram explained the good reverend's evangelic intentions:

During halftime, Newland shows videos featuring football players talking about their faith and he gives a Gospel presentation "for the express purpose of how they could become a follower of Christ."

Unfortunately, there is that little announcement given near the conclusion of every NFL game:

"This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent is prohibited."

So, the NFL sent out a warning to churches about their Super Bowl viewing parties and the growing disregard for copyright laws.

ABC News quoted attorney Jerry Reisman as saying:

"The NFL has the copyright, they own the rights to the Super Bowl. The NFL has sold certain rights to the networks to broadcast the game, and now you get somebody who says, 'I'm going to show the game and charge admission.' You don't have a right to do that."

According to The Christian Post, a Super Bowl party planned this year at North River Community Church in Pembroke, Massachusetts was called off by its pastor, Rev. Paul Atwater after he reviewed the NFL's policies on the practice and read reports of churches being threatened with legal action for non-compliance.

Atwater reportedly told the local Tribune that they considered it a "stupid law."

"Stupid?" - No.

Inconvenient? - Yes.

Remember, we're not talking about Christians contending for the faith here. We're talking about churches contending for a TV show.

You can call it "evangelism" all you want, but it's still just entertainment. And what does that say about our convictions and priorities?

Is this what Jesus suffered and died on a cross for - so we could all watch football games on TV at church?

What a testimony�

"And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection." - Luke 8:14

� 2008 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved

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Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print.

E-Mail: [email protected]

 


 

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To address this annual interruption, church leaders concluded somewhere back there: "If you can't beat 'em - join 'em." And so, the Church Super Bowl party was born.