Super Bowl parties happen. They just do. And they even happen at church.
Should that make us pause a bit? Because it’s not. The event has become such an inculcated part of our society that few of us even think past the first kickoff (and rounding up some good grub) when it comes to what it actually means to host a Super Bowl party just a few feet away from the pulpit.
I was thinking about this a bit more over the past few days since my high school-age daughter’s Awana group at our church was planning just such a party. And it struck me that Plugged In might have a thing or two to say on the subject.
A quick note first: Most churches don’t know that there are certain copyright requirements that apply to hosting a Super Bowl party. And on this subject, since my face looks about as blank as yours does right now, I’ll just let you know about a nice little Q&A that CopyrightSolver had with an NFL rep.
With that legal stuff taken care of, we’re back to the game itself. Or maybe I should say the stuff that happens on the sidelines of the game: commercials and the halftime show. And because of the way those two things have morphed and changed and, let’s face it, degenerated over the years, they should be of particular interest to churches (and all of us in churches) when we’re participating in this annual sports holiday.
My advice? Skip the halftime show and the commercials altogether. Just blank out the screen every time the game pauses. You’ll likely find that having these “blank” interludes won’t deflate the proceedings even a little bit. They’ll actually make the party more vibrant, helping to spike the interaction level that’s happening between congregants. It may actually be noisier when the big screen is silent than while the gridiron action’s on. Then put together a quick sports-themed devo for halftime. Make it quick—then send everybody over the buffet table for refills and more chatter.
If it’s decided not to make it all about the game (and just the game) by killing off all the extras, may I suggest to you the same thing I just suggested to my daughter’s Awana leaders. And while this is great for us adults too, I’ll frame this for teens, since that’s the context I’ve been thinking the most about. Here’s a close facsimile of what I wrote earlier today:
It would be extremely beneficial to all of your teens as you watch the game on Sunday to make an effort to turn the TV off a couple of times for a minute or two when you see the beginning of a particularly salacious commercial (for Carl’s Jr. or Victoria’s Secret, for instance) or when Katy Perry may or may not start singing about the joys of teen sex or having liked it when she “kissed a girl.”
This simple act of keeping the remote control handy and choosing to use it in front of teens communicates volumes to them about what your values as leaders are and what their values as maturing young Christians should be. Some of them may have never had someone try to protect them in this way, and it may make a big impression on them about not only what godly media discernment looks like, but also what kinds of (for instance) clothes are appropriate to wear (for the girls) and what kinds of sensual things are inappropriate to see (for the guys). A simple comment as soon as the TV snaps off about “Well, I think we can all skip THAT” can do wonders—far more than you might realize—for their spiritual maturity process as it relates to how we interact with the world around us.
So maybe we can all turn our Super Bowl parties into super spiritual learning opportunities without even trying that hard. It’s the kind of thing that should always be in play when it comes to entertainment … but especially when it’s at church.