I’ll admit it. I’ve long been a critic of watching a football game at church. I’ve been to a few “big game” church viewing parties in my lifetime. Lets be honest – they don’t quite reach the fun quotient of tailgating or even a good gathering at home with a few friends. The reason churches have them is in hopes of attracting a few folk into the church building and proving we can have fun too. I’ve never seen that mission succeed.
Last year, when the Seahawks played for the world championship, I wrote this article, canceling our Sunday night gathering and encouraging our group to go be “salt and light” at any gathering they could host or be invited to. This year, I’m doing a 180.
Our Sunday night gathering is right in the middle of the big game. I had every intention of canceling our Community Dinner and The Table tonight, secure in the knowledge that I was doing the right thing. Plus I didn’t want to be the only one there and waste a lot of money.
Selfishly, I was looking forward to snuggling into my recliner and yelling at the TV screen all afternoon, safely ensconced in my castle where only Jesus and my family could hear the things I’d be screaming.
But something changed. Over the last month, as I’ve gotten to know more and more people that join us at the Northgate Community Center, I realized two things:
- Some people in our community don’t have a place to watch the big game, because they don’t have a home or a television.
- Others don’t have anyone to watch the big game with.
It slowly dawned on me that this was a unique community. Unlike the suburban, consumer-driven churches I have always pastored, here was a group that didn’t have options. They weren’t going to be invited to someone else’s big game party.
So we’re inviting them to ours.
We borrowed a projector and I’ve been testing out antennas all week. I’m fairly sure I can get a great signal. Our dinner tonight is tailgate foods, and there will be a lot of it (and maybe some Skittles). I don’t know who’s coming, but I know our doors will be open, a generous meal will be served, and our team and their families will be there with a warm smile and hot plate to share.
By the way – you might be wondering why I am posting this on Sunday morning instead of earlier in the week. After all, shouldn’t I be promoting and trying to get more people to attend? Nope. Two reasons: first, this isn’t an “outreach” or “event.” It’s just our regular church time, and we’ll be watching the game with our community. Second, our world doesn’t work that way – our community forms through word of mouth, personal recommendation, and literally going out to the street to invite people in.
But today I thought I’d take a few minutes to post and say “I was wrong – there IS a good reason to have a big game party at church!”
You shouldn’t at ALL feel guilty if you’re having a big party at home. We think that’s great. But maybe this little story will encourage you to invite someone over who may be lonely or in need today. I’ll leave you with these words from Jesus from Luke 14:
“Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
And Go Hawks!