(Photo: Reuters/Mark Leffingwell)
Inspiring people on and off the field, Tim Tebow will be speaking this weekend at a megachurch in Las Vegas.
Canyon Ridge Christian Church in northwest Las Vegas invited the Denver Broncos quarterback to share his story with more than 20,000 people during their four worship services on Saturday and Sunday.
The church, which usually draws 6,000 people to their weekly services, hopes that the 24-year-old star will be able to help them reach out to nonbelievers in their community.
"We try to bring in a person with a story that excites people so that our members invite their friends and our neighbors can get connected to God, and maybe they'll come back next week," Kevin Oder, senior pastor of CRCC, told the Las Vegas Sun.
As part of their evangelical outreach to the community, Canyon Ridge usually brings two special speakers a year to their church.
"We saw Tim's name on a list of speakers, and then I saw that as a third-string quarterback he was endorsing Jockey T-shirts. I figured that if Jockey saw something in his character, there was a lot more to his story, and we decided to approach him."
Tebow, an NFL football player who quickly rose to fame for his 4th quarter comebacks for the Broncos, has drawn much attention for his frequent demonstrations of religious devotion.
He often kneels in prayer on the sidelines, also known as "Tebowing, gives credit to God for his success, and preaches the Gospel to people in prison, school, church, and other numerous places as well.
"I think a lot of people who watch the NFL are tired of some of the bizarre end zone dances and routines that players use to call attention to themselves," Oder explained to LVS. "To me, it's refreshing to see someone drop to a knee and give thanks to his God."
The former Heisman Trophy winner was additionally involved in a wide variety of philanthropic work, currently helping to build a children's hospital in the Philippines – where he was born and where his parents Pamela and Robert were serving as Baptist missionaries – and bringing faith, hope, and love to the disabled and underprivileged in the nation through his own Tim Tebow Foundation.
Canyon Ridge is paying an honorarium for Tebow's appearance at the church, all of which will go to his foundation.
Tebow's mother will also be attending the Saturday service. She happened to be in Las Vegas for a speaking gig at Shadow Hills Baptist Church.
Instead of preaching to the crowd, Tebow will be interviewed by the senior pastor during the four services.
"He gets really fired up when he preaches, just like he does on the football field," Oder explained. "I could just hand him the ball and let him run, but I think in an interview format we'll be able to get to understand him more as a person and he'll say a few things that he might not necessarily say when he's preaching."
The church will be opening up an alternate venue with a video feed for the special appearance in order to accommodate for the thousands of people they are expecting.
Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
The campus will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday.
There will be no autograph or meet and greet opportunities with Tebow before or after the services.
The services will also be streamed live online.
On the Web: www.canyonridge.org