South Carolina's NewSpring Church is moving Sunday night services to Saturday night so that the congregants won't have to miss a single play of the Super Bowl, the multi-campus megachurch has announced.
"We all love watching the Big Game, so for one weekend only we are moving our Sunday night service to Saturday night … so that you don't have to miss a single play," says the church in a commercial video posted on its website.
NewSpring Lead Pastor Perry Noble also announced the change in the services on his Facebook page, posting a link to his blog, where he explained the reason for canceling the church's Sunday night services last year due to the Super Bowl.
NewSpring, Perry wrote, has existed for 12 years and "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." The pastor quoted influential pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., as saying that one of the things the early church was obsessed with was making a difference and not making a point.
The church, therefore, decided in 2011 to "not try to make a point but rather make a difference!"
Is it a compromise the church is making? No, says Perry. "Nothing could be further from the truth. There isn't a specific verse as to the number of services or service times a church has to have. And we knew that in making this move that people were more likely to attend church on a Saturday evening and bring their friends with them."
However, Apologist Chris Rosebrough told The Christian Post earlier that Stanley's statement doesn't have "anything to bear on whether or not it's appropriate for a church to yield to the Super Bowl." He said that the people who don't care about the game, and would rather be at church, are basically being told that the Super Bowl is more important than their weekly church routine.
Meanwhile, SouthBrook Christian Church in Miamisburg, Ohio, is sponsoring a Super Weekend. Dayton Daily News quoted Kim Adamson, marketing and communications director for the church, as saying that the event was inspired by other churches seeking to use game day to bring in new faces. "We got the idea from Crossroads Church in Cincinnati," she said. "We thought we would try something like that here."
First United Methodist Church of Long Beach, Calif., also is a "Souper Bowl" luncheon for the occasion. Sun Herald reports that the menu includes gallons of homemade soups provided by church members. The church will also accept donations for the meals and all funds raised will benefit local and international missions through Stop Hunger Now.
Many other churches have announced special events and their offering of something special for Super Bowl Sunday, when the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will square off against each other.
On the issue of church attendance during the Super Bowl, Barnabas Piper, who works in marketing and acquisitions at Moody Publishers, wrote in World Magazine on Friday, saying, "To go or not to go, this is the question facing thousands of churchgoers on Super Bowl Sunday evening."
No church, Piper writes, should make its people feel guilty for missing a service in favor of the big game. "This is as much a church culture issue as it is a scheduling one. Those churches that have created an environment where attendance is mandatory and 'skipping' is shameful have missed the point of gathering to worship (especially if the gathering is an evening service after a primary morning one). And to judge those who miss a service in favor of gathering with friends and family to enjoy each other's company and, hopefully, a great game is legalism."