A View from the Pew: What Makes a Sunday Super?

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I happen to live in a city that has a rooting interest in Super Bowl LI, so I have more than a passing interest in the big game this year.

But even when I don’t care about the outcome, the weeks of hype and constant media and social media attention invade my mental and spiritual space like weeds in my lawn.

This Super Bowl syndrome can be particularly acute for churches, constantly working to be at the front of members’ minds, as thet can easily be distracted by the mundane and shiny alike. Attendance at worship and attention in worship are elusive in today’s church context, and never more than on Super Bowl Sunday when ESPN starts blasting its “news updates” to your smartphone 12 hours before kickoff.

Growing up, I attended churches (mostly where my father pastored) that stood in opposition to the Super Bowl. I can recite the exhortation we would receive in each Super Bowl Sunday morning worship service in an effort to get us to come back for the evening service: “What has the NFL ever done for you? Jesus died for your sins.”

For the church at large, it feels like the fighting ended. Churches have tried incorporating the Super Bowl into their activities. I’ve attended worship services in fellowship halls that concluded with the TV getting tuned into the game while the tailgate snacks were served and cola poured.

And as Sunday night church becomes rarer and rarer, many churches do not even pretend to compete with the Super Bowl, or even mention it. I prefer the latter.

I have been a football fan since I was old enough to recognize the Dallas Cowboys logo on my television in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth. And I still watch a fair amount of professional football and devote too much time to fantasy football each season. But there is something refreshing about being involved in church and its mission to the point that the real insignificance of football and the Super Bowl become evident.

What makes my Sundays super? It’s not football. Here are a few of the ingredients that make a difference for me each weekend:

Early morning quiet time. When the house is quiet and my coffee is hot, the Lord can speak and my heart and mind are at peace. These are hours I desperately need to recharge for the week ahead.
Hugs and handshakes. Nothing pulls me out of my worries like sincere greetings with fellow pilgrims and authentic engagement in the lives of others. When I am welcomed at church, I am blessed.
Song, Prayer, and Scripture. Hearing and joining in musical offerings, listening to and joining in prayers, absorbing and meditating on Biblical texts can’t be found anywhere else for me but church. Whether by conditioning, nurturing, or inherent need, I have come to understand that worship is essential for me.
Contemplation. I am a word person, so unlike fidgeters and those who prefer motion and activity, I like sermons. I cherish a well-prepared, well-delivered message from Scripture that draws me in, holds my attention, and challenges me to deeper understanding of God’s nature and calling on my life.
Rest. Birthday card jokes about aging aside, naps are sacred. Sunday afternoon is nap time, and I can’t believe I ever resisted mandatory naps as a child. It is my physical battery recharger.
Family. Conversations in the car to and from church, laughter at the lunch and supper tables, board or video games with my boys all provide important touchpoints and building blocks in our relationships. Our family is better on Thursday because we were together on Sunday.

My prayer is that you and your church have many super Sundays throughout this year, and that Feb. 4 is super for all the right reasons.

Lance Wallace_for_webLance Wallace is a Baptist layperson and member of Parkway Baptist Church in Johns Creek, GA, does media relations and issues management at his day job, and blogs at newsouthessays.com.

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Comments

  1. Bob Perkins says:

    Nice post! I was always grateful your dad gave me special dispensation for watching the Super Bowl because of my job!

  2. Nancy Brown says:

    Always love Lance’s articles. He is one of the finest men I know.