Wednesday, February 10, 2010

#120-Comparing our worship in church to the amount we cheer for our favorite Sports Team

DISCLAIMER: This is one of those more "preachy" posts....take it however you want...It does have a point to it...But I have just been wrestling with it for the past few days (I have been on vacation where you have too much time to think about things that don't really matter)...

While not typical of every service, a common preaching point that is sure to arouse crowd participation within the congregation is the classic "sports vs. God" battle wherein the preacher walks up to the pulpit and after encouraging worship for a few seconds and perusing the response....the preacher chimes in loudly something to the effect of:

  "If 'they can cheer for a bunch of guys in tights fighting over a pigskin you ought to be able to give God the praise that he deserves."

This usually results in a slightly more raucous response from the crowd wherein those who don't watch sports worship louder to demonstrate that the worship for sports will not compare to their worship for God, and also a slightly guilty response from sports fans who feel the point posited by the preacher is a valid one...."Why do the sports fans in church care more for football more than their participation in church?" Maybe they just love sports more than they love God.... 

But on recommendation of the preacher, a quick shout of an amen and a jump and a clap will cure such idolatry...

This preaching point is usually heightened on Super Bowl Sunday wherein an opening to the sermon somehow ties into the amount of money the Super Bowl generates and the massive audience it draws in....

On the surface, the preacher speaks deep truths that get all sports fans to question their commitment to God...."Who is our God? If we judge by worship in applause and excitement, many of us would say by such a definition sports is our God..."

But this argument is quite similar to the comparison of "Who is more religious and more dedicated to their God...The Muslim or the Christian?" Here it is noted that the Muslim bows and prays towards Mecca thrice daily no matter where they are...If such a point is brought up, the person bringing up the point will ask "Why can't Christians be as dedicated in worship and prayer in consideration that they are worshiping the ONE TRUE GOD?"

And we sit there and contemplate and feel horrible about our lack of dedication to the Lord.....

But the point is if we are judging our Christianity by comparing the volume of our worship or the amount of times we habitually pray in a day to those of sports fans or the Muslims, we are entirely missing the point.... While dedication is a good thing, we are not to glory in our worship, nor by the amount of time we spend in prayer....

Galatians 6:12 says that we may glory in the cross alone...It is by the cross alone we are to evaluate our lives....

If we stop short and choose to measure our lives by elements that can be measured by the human eye such as the volume of our worship and the times we pray in a day, we have cheapened the cross and our salvation to something that can be earned by human might....YUCK


  1. I thought this is supposed to be funny not preachy....

  2. Right on! I have always wondered if maybe the guys that say this were just using it to cover up for their lack of substance in their message. Only novice or really bad worship leaders use this to lead a just doesn't lead to the refocuses the whole worship service back on the audience rather than God.

  3. I've been guilty of this, and I hate that.

    It's in our nature. We take on what is really something we disdain and tout our spirituality as higher than the others. If cheering a football game is equivalent to worship, and Sunday Night is a way to "out-worship" we probably should just go back and tear down the idol we are worshipping. However, some get a little confused with the gods they generalize and name for everyone. For many recreation, which includes cheering, excitement, joy, time and often money -- is not a god but pleasure. It becomes a god when it moves my heart away from God's, or when I begin to devote my purpose in life to the god in violation of my commitment to Jesus. It's not who or what you place confidence in... it's if you are placing it above Jesus. Hand clap and cheering is no more worship than is a crazy man running around the church with a heart of sin. Worship is a matter of heart.

  4. Well said. The only thing about this site that I don't like is the fact that you don't update it every day...hint hint?

  5. Whoooooooooaaaaaaaa Joel! I liked your message at the end. Preach on brother! :)

  6. When they can make their sermon or song service as nail biting, adrenaline rushing, raucous and entertaining as the Superbowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Finals or World Series I might give the same response...

  7. lol @ Glen's comment... :)

    Great post... and I agree with Stanton's comment that it really is just a way that insecure leaders to try and 'lead'.

  8. I am not even kidding, I was going to email this to you as an idea!!!!!!

  9. I have always been one of the folks in the audience that would chirp like a cricket when someone offered that line as a call to worship (literally, my pal taught me how to do it). This is best done at things like church camp or General conference when surrounded by friends who will think it is hilarious.

    Seriously though, as you said, why compare your dedication to God to raucous behavior. Why not say, "you work 8 hours a day, why don't you praise God 8 hours a day!" You are making food and work your idol!

    And Glen, I love your response brotha, right on! In the end, are we in church to show the preacher how much we yell and dance for God, or are we there to show God in our own way how we love him?

  10. Is that Joel Riley on the cover of Illustrated Footbal Annual!?!

  11. Is this post because you lost many high school basketball games to the fiance of a potential future wife who once worked at starbucks? Or she was told you lost... but you in fact were victorious?

  12. Wow I have been saying the same thing for so long. Worship is not a comparison thing although it does make person think about what they value more or is more excited about and why.