A Lutheran pastor from Butte, Mont., is making headlines on Monday after it was revealed that he delivered a one-minute service on Sunday, so that he could watch the NFC Divisional Playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers.
"Would you all like to be forgiven for your sins?" Pastor Tim Christensen of Gold Hill Lutheran Church asks the congregation in a Youtube video of the sermon. The people answer "yes," and he tells them "Ok, you are."
The pastor attempts to keep things short and humorous, and when talking about Communion, he offers: "There is some bread, and some wine up here on the table. You feel free to help yourself if you'd like to."
Christensen ends the service by revealing his 49ers shirt under his vestments, and walking off camera, presumably to watch the game – which the 49ers won 23-10.
While the congregation is heard laughing and taking the one-minute long sermon in good spirits in the video, the story has received some mixed responses from commentators online.
The Facebook page of Gold Hill Lutheran shared a link of the sermon, with the message: "Not exactly a TYPICAL Sunday morning at Gold Hill, but John Christensen captured this brief and funny video. 'Share' as you wish and maybe his video goes viral. TOO FUNNY!"
In response, one user, Sue Seiffert, wrote: "Not exactly the kind of video that I would want to 'go viral'; at least, not without providing more context. Please give us that context. I am hoping that it was just an opening 'stunt' that led to a meaningful reflection on priorities or perhaps on what is core in our worship."
User Sam A. Martinez Jr., however, wrote in defense of the sermon: "People with no sense of humor will totally not get this video. I laughed and thoroughly enjoyed a quick light hearted moment. Your fun 60 second sermon was watched all the way in Georgia. How's that for outreach. Great job Pastor Tim."
With the popularity of football and the effect big match-ups have on attendances, other pastors in the past have decided to move entire services so they do not clash with the games.
In February 2013, NewSpring Church in South Carolina moved Sunday night services to Saturday night so that service hours don't go head-to-head with the Super Bowl.
"Anytime we've tried to compete with the Super Bowl … well, it just hasn't gone well. We've tried different approaches to remedy this, but nothing has worked, people just have NOT come to church," NewSpring Lead Pastor Perry Noble explained.