U.S. Churches Cancel Services for Football – Superbowl – People who are unchurched, dechurched, and preachers who say not attending church is a sin
- Feb 3, 2014
A number of Sunday night services were moved or canceled this past weekend to accommodate members who wanted to watch the Super Bowl, after it presented a conflict with regular service times.
I discuss the football aspect of this topic farther below.
The verse from Hebrews (Heb 10: 25) about assembling together is not a commandment for Christians to gather weekly, or even monthly.
“Let us not…” is not to be interpreted as “Thus Saith the Lord, thou most certainly shall X, or be in sin.”
The verse from Hebrews about “assembling together” is merely saying that gathering together is beneficial for believers, for they can encourage one another when they meet. It is not laying down church attendance as a rule which Christians must keep.
The Hebrews passage does not even suggest that Christians should meet together for X hours on X day of the week or month.
Christians who insist church attendance, in a brick building every week, is mandated by God, are like the Judaizers mentioned in the New Testament: they are adding to the Gospel with their man made rule. They are like the Pharisees who are heaping more regulations and loads on people’s backs.
To go off on a slight tangent:
If you are someone who has quit going to church, if you have been hurt by a church and are still a Christian you may want to visit the following site (even if you were once Christian but are now doubting the faith like me, you may still find this site beneficial)
- (which is a site also mentioned on another page I’ve linked to below)
- The command in Hebrews 10:25 (namely, to “exhort one another”) is also found in Hebrews 3:13, where it says we are to “exhort one another daily”.
If we claim to obey Hebrews 10:25 by “attending church” one day a week, do we also fulfill the command to exhort one another daily, when we see other believers only once a week?
…Are we really obeying the Biblical commands concerning exhortation, community, and mutual accountability by once a week watching the performance of a seminary-trained entertainer?
…Does the Bible say Believers must go to a physical church?
Churches commonly quote Acts 20:7 as a precedent for Church worship, but the whole impression of Acts 20:7 is rather that of a family meeting together in a home than of a modern congregation met in a church.
“Family” meaning a group of believers and friends.
Is it possible that we may have lost the sense of the congregation as a real family in God?
Psalm 22:22 is also quoted, and it is cited in Hebrews 2:12, as referring to Christ. How does Christ stand in the midst of his congregation and declare His Name? Only in certain buildings at certain times?
Matthew 18:20 spells doom for those who would so assert: “For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.”
His Presence with us is through the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17), who fulfills Moses’ wish that we could all be prophets and not have to be dependent upon special priests to teach us (1 John 2:27). God’s Presence is not localized “in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48; 17:24).
Our body is now the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells within us (1 Corinthians 3:9,16,17; 6:19-20, Ephesians 2:20-22), just like Jesus referred to his own body as a temple (Mark 14:58, John 2:19-21).
And as believers exercise dominion over the entire globe, Christ is correspondingly present (Matthew 28:18,20). (read the rest)
You don’t have to go to church weekly anymore than God demands you (if you are a male) to be circumcised, if you are an uncircumcised gentile believer.
The Bible does not lay down church attendance rules. If the Bible did insist on church attendance, one would think it would get down to the nitty gritty, brass tacks of, “You must meet X times per month for X hours,” but it does no such thing.
It is not a sin to not go to church, though goodness knows, many Christians think so and write very long blog pages defending the idea that it is, such as:
(Link): Telling Members They Are Sinning In Deliberately Missing Church
It has become a little trendy in the last five years for churches, especially Neo Reformed, Neo Calvinist, and the seeker-friendly type of churches (and IFB have always been this way) to guilt trip, condemn, and shame people into attending church weekly.
The newer trend among some of these churches, though, is to take heavy handed measures to make people stay in a church, or to stalk and harass them after they leave.
Local churches have become very legalistic and heavily controlling in the area of church attendance.
There have been many blog pages over the last two years published by these pin-head preachers where they lay down the Law of Church Membership and Attendance very thickly.
I have seen some church blog pages by these types of people who believe non-attendance is sinful that are downright chilling. They sound like mafia dons who will snuff you out if you skip church one day or several days in a year, or stop attending, or go to a new church.
The pages that don’t sound as though they were written by mafia dons are never the less downright ridiculous in their nit pickiness of church attendance rules and expectations.
I saw one where the preacher excused himself for missing church for twelve or thirteen weeks out of the year (ie, he goes to Christian conferences or something), but he estimated that a “real” member would never dream of missing more than some arbitrary number he mentioned (which may have been five times or three, I don’t remember the exact number).
If you would like to see such creepy church or preacher blog pages, just google around for them, or visit blogs by Christians for spiritual abuse survivors, and dig through their archives. You will find enough examples.
This material discusses some of the warning signs of such preachers and churches:
(Link): Beware of “Spiritual Abuse”
- In a manipulative church, the pastor or senior leaders have subtly positioned themselves to take the place of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.
They may try to put undue influence on the choices that people in their congregation are making.
They might try to sway someone’s decision in a matter to keep them under their control, or to keep them from leaving the church.
People in a controlling church are often told they cannot leave the church with God’s blessing unless the pastor approves the decision. They are warned that if they don’t follow the pastor’s guidance, not only will God not bless them, but they will also bring a curse upon themselves or their family. Leaving the “covering” of the church and the controlling pastor will result in some sort of calamity.
There are pages by Christians who try to shame wounded or disinterested Christians who have stopped going to churches, such as this page:
~(THIS IS A BAD PAGE)~
(Link): 5 Really Bad Reasons To Leave Your Church (THIS IS A BAD PAGE, ie, bad views / opinions)
Here are pages the discuss this situation more (though if I understand rightly, the author of the first page linked to below is saying that Christian women cannot or should not lead or preach in church, which is not, in my view, biblical at all; see (Link): this site for more):
Excerpt 2 –
You are expected to commit to rigid rules for church membership and submit to church leaders’ authority.
Despite no biblical mandate for formal church commitment or ecclesiastical authority in Scripture, spiritually abusive churches push a rigid form of membership and submission to church leaders as obedience to God.
A hierarchy develops of members submitting to group leaders to elders to pastors to an executive board, which is controlled by the founder or lead pastor.
Signs: (1) Members are required to sign a contract or agreement with strict rules for doctrinal beliefs and behavior.
(2) A church discipline process is spelled out in detail that members must agree to.
- Many Christians and many churches claim that they abide by the principle of the Bible alone.
Then they will turn around and formulate something called a church membership policy or church covenant.
But where does the Bible tell us to have such a thing? When we become Christians, God places us under the New Covenant, which is a covenant of grace.
… Church covenants and membership policies are fundamentally legalistic. They are, after all, a set of laws that a member binds him- or herself to keep. Some of the most popular church covenants say, “We engage to” do this or that. The word “engage” here means “bind ourselves.” Such covenants and policies are clearly asking Christians—who are now supposed to be under grace and not law—to put themselves back under a law.
Regarding the page (Link): 5 Really Bad Reasons To Leave Your Church, it looks to me as though all or most of the reasons he cites on the page are actually excellent reasons to stop attending a church, especially #4. “My Needs Aren’t Being Met”.
One of the main purposes of a church, as intended by God, is yes, to meet your needs.
(And if you can, you are there to meet other people’s needs. But there may be times you are going through a trial in life, and YOU are the one in need, and there is nothing selfish, or unbiblical, or wrong with expecting your local church to help meet your needs. You are not Super Woman or Super Man, or an unfeeling robot. We all have needs at times.)
But you getting your needs met is, yes, discussed in a positive fashion in the New Testament.
Christians are, it is said in the NT, to provide emotional support and practical support to whomever in the body needs it.
Nowhere does the Bible say that “you are to serve; not be served.”
Jesus said of HIMSELF that he came to serve and not be served, but too many Christians twist his words about himself to teach it is wrong for Christians to try to get their needs met.
Jesus met other people’s needs quite frequently. Jesus did not usually shame people or scold them when they approached and asked for help.
There were a few times where the Bible says Jesus refused to heal or help crowds of people because he was tired, so he’d go off alone, and Jesus bickered with the one gentile lady and called her a dog when she asked for a healing, but I don’t recall an incident where Jesus lectured someone along the lines of “you are asking me to meet your needs, and that is selfish, so go away!”
There are times, yes, when it is nice or good for you to serve other people, but the Bible does NOT say anywhere that you are never to be served by other Christians.
The Holy Spirit gifts other Christians so that when your trial comes, they can serve YOU. (And it works in the opposite; there may be times when you can serve other people.)
—SOME CHURCHES DEMAND YOU ATTEND AND IF NOT YOU ARE SUPPOSEDLY IN SIN, BUT HYPOCRITICALLY, THEY ARE FINE CANCELLING CHURCH FOR HOLIDAYS AND FOOTBALL—
I recall reading years ago (late 1990s I think) many churches called off services when church (Sunday) fell on Christmas Day.
The preachers of such churches (I believe Joel Osteen, preacher of a huge mega church in Houston, was one) reasoned, when interviewed in papers, that people might want to spend the day with “their families.”
As Field and Colon pointed out in their book about Christian singleness, not all single, Christian adults have families to spend holiday days with, and would have likely viewed the church as their spiritual family, as a welcome place to spend the holiday and make it less lonely.
But do churches care that they leave the never married, widowed, and childless out in the cold like that? Nope. Married preachers are frequently oblivious to the needs and concerns of celibate, adult singles.
— CALLING OFF CHURCH DUE TO THE SUPER BOWL —
Now, churches are calling off church for Super Bowl Sunday, and it’s been going on for years, not just this year.
I really wonder about churches whose preachers and members feel it’s okay to cancel church in favor of something like football – or even Christmas.
Even for the churches that are not legalistic and that do not believe attendance is mandatory and non attendance is sinful, this makes me wonder.
But then, I am against Christians who are legalistic about church attendance as well, the ones who insist you are “IN SIN” if you don’t show up in person to a brick building with a steeple every week.
It just seems to me that even some of the Christians who teach that legalistic form of church attendance are none the less FINE with calling off church for football or holidays.
Doing so sends a message to me that Jesus Christ is maybe not such people’s first priority, but their comfort, hobbies, and entertainment are.
Do Christians in other nations, say, South Korea, Norway, Germany, Ethiopia or Peru, cancel church services on Super Bowl Sunday? If it’s just an American phenomenon, American Christians might want to think this over.
Would it be okay if Europeans or Latin or South Americans, who tend to be very big soccer fans, called off church services for whatever big soccer games they have?
Most American Christians would probably say no to that.
Well, imagine how bad or weird it must look to some South American Christians, or whatever other non American soccer fans, that American Christians take Super Bowl Sunday off.
If you are the sort of Christian who measures devotion to Christ via regular church attendance, but you decide to skip the day due to the Super Bowl, or your preacher is one of those “you must attend, for not is sinning” yet he calls church off for the Super Bowl, it makes me wonder. Is your allegiance to Jesus Christ or to the NFL?
I am assuming the guy who wrote this first page (see link below) is a Christian or would claim to be one, from the looks of his page – I thought prior to clicking on the link that this would be a page by an atheist, but no, it seems to be by a Christian.
(I take it this list is meant to be amusing and light hearted, but really, in the overall scheme of the fact that many churches do in fact cancel services or shuffle them around to accomodate a stupid sporting event, makes it seem very sad):
- This Sunday I, along with bazillions of other Christians, will choose watching the Super Bowl over going to church. Why? Because compared to church the Super Bowl offers:
1. Way better food. Remember the last time that during a church service someone offered you guacamole and beer? Me neither.
2. Better seating. I once tried to stretch out comfortably on a church pew. My coccyx still hasn’t forgiven me.
3. Dependable periodic yuks. Church needs commercial breaks. But only if some of them are awesomely funny. Which none of them will be. So never mind.
4. A reason to deeply and desperately pray. I do pray in church, for sure. But usually not so hard my stomach muscles seize up and I sweat, moan and cry like a gnu in a trap.
5. Unendurable suspense. Church is a lot of things. One of them is not surprising.
- BY ANUGRAH KUMAR, CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR
- February 2, 2014|9:10 am
Congregations across the United States, including megachurches like NewSpring in South Carolina, have canceled or moved their worship services to allow families to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. The churches say this is neither worldly nor sinful.
“We’re moving service times for the Big Game,” reads a bold message on the NewSpring Church website.
“We know the game is important so we’re moving the service times to better fit your schedule,” says the megachurch, which canceled Saturday night services at four locations and won’t have night services at all on Sunday. “This will allow us to reach more people that week and give you more opportunities to invite your friends and family,” it adds.
- Preparing for Super Bowl Sunday, some Tacoma-area churches are canceling evening services, throwing big-screen viewing parties and adapting schedules in other ways.
- By Julie Muhlstein, Herald Writer
- Feb 1, 2014
Watching Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson talk about his Christian faith, raising money to alleviate hunger, seeing the game on a sanctuary’s big screen, and skipping services are some ways area churches will celebrate Super Bowl Sunday.
Off Site Link:
- A number of congregations nationwide decided to move or cancel their Sunday night services so that members can watch the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots during the Super Bowl instead.
- The Public Religion Research Institute recently conducted a study that found that 18 percent of Americans are more likely to skip church on a Sunday to watch football, and that statistic is no greater than on Super Bowl Sunday. Therefore, to accommodate those who likely will choose football over church, a number of congregations nationwide decided to either cancel or move their services this weekend.
- Mariners Church in Huntington Beach, Calif. canceled its Sunday night services and will instead throw neighborhood “house parties” for the game.
(Link): The Unchurched