Wednesday, August 29, 2012

#259-Balancing Sports And Jesus

It’s so hard to be a Christian in the West Coast Time Zone.” –Daniel Tosh

We’ve all been there. The sermon is good, but it’s dragging on a bit. You check your watch. You say things in your head to your pastor that you only wish were out loud:
 “Ok Pastor, wrap it up. Kick off’s in 30 and if there’s traffic I won’t get the brat’s on the grill in time, and then I’ll have to watch Stuart Scott and try to figure out which way he’s looking, effectively killing my appetite.”

The sermon continues without your consent. You start to fidget. You catch an elbow to the ribs from The Misses. You enter into a *Stare-down.*
You then hear those golden words from the pulpit: 

“Musicians please come.”

YES! Altar call! Now all you’ll have to do is mouth the words to Jesus I Love You, close your eyes and sway for five minutes and it’s off to see Matthew Stafford either get carted off the field or break a record for most passing yards in a game. Either way you will be screaming at the TV soon. 

But wait. We aren't done here. That man is still preaching. You check your watch. Another ten minutes. He’s. Still. Preaching. You think, “It’s cool, I’ll do the brats at halftime.” Still. Preaching. That man who was once your pastor should consider what his drive to work will be like tomorrow when his tires are slashed. Thank God you just thought that silently in your head. It doesn't even matter. The sermon lingers on like a horror movie monster that just won't die. Your other half is no help here. She cherishes these moments. Her sinister smile at you let's you know she's in on the racket with the pastor. They both want you miserable. They want you to miss football. You try to stay calm. You tell yourself, “Nothing ever happens in the first quarter anyway.” Still. Preaching. “If he’s not done in ten minutes we’re leaving.” Fifteen minutes later: Still. Preaching. “That’s it. I’m backsliding.”

I really love the church I spent the last six years at before moving to Cali. It's a megachurch so sermons run 25 minutes, tops. This isn't a coincidence. If you weren't good with logic in school, what I'm saying is that the secret ingredient to having a ‘megachurch' is 25 minute sermons. 

Reason being, do you want to go to the church with the 45 minute altar calls or the one with a congregation of season ticket holders?

Personally I’ll take The United Church of All Hail Tom Brady for $500 Alex. When my church went to one Sunday morning service they might as well have put a marquee out front that said, “Love sports? Come here! 11 AM Sunday Service, so even when that unexpected tongues and interpretation forces altar call into Overtime you won’t miss a second of Regulation!” It was euphoric. Church-wide Superbowl parties. Watching every game of the Stanley Cup Finals. That is, until the old people got nostalgic and started scheduling night services once a month, to which I replied “Well you guys have fun with that, ok, bubye now.. To Buffalo Wild Wings I go!”

Once we had an evangelist preaching at our church. He was on the time-schedule of a different demographic. A demographic from a different era. An era with only 3 shades of gray. A demographic that oddly believes the longer the sermon, the more God will move at altar call. This is a lie from the depths of hell. Anyways, sixty-minutes into the sermon he gleefully announces, “I’m halfway through the sermon.” We thought it was a joke. Forty-five minutes later we wished he were joking. The Red Wings were in the playoffs. I was grateful for the half of the third period I got to see.

The worst part of being a Christian and a sports fan is the torment of bringing the musicians up. You know what it’s supposed to mean. But it never really means what it’s supposed to mean. It’s supposed to mean “play softly in lieu of the impending altar call I’m making in 3…2...” What it actually means is “I see you fidgeting, so I’ll bring up the musicians to give you a false sense of optimism because first I have to wrap up the sermon for ten minutes, and then segue into the post sermon sermon, which will easily go another twenty.”

You put your head down and petition the Lord silently. You pray,  “Dear God, please let this coldhearted man wrap it up…” Your wife sees you praying and puts her hand on your back and prays softly with you. Well this is awkward.

The worst day of the year to be a Christian is Superbowl Sunday. I’m convinced pastors treat Superbowl Sunday like Santa treats Christmas. “Tithes are looking good? Check. All the volunteer work on the property is done? Check. The tenor section is looking a little skimpy today.
That’ll cost ya kick-off. Naughty naughty.”

I propose a solution. I propose we follow the model of grade school. I propose we implement ‘extra credit’. I had a few classes in school where, if you completed enough extra credit, you didn’t have to take the final. I propose extra credit is attending a prayer meeting. 

I’ll make a deal with you pastors. We men will go to two prayer meetings a month. In exchange we ask that church be cancelled on Superbowl Sunday. If that’s not enough we’ll make our kids in the youth group volunteer at the church for one Saturday a month and possibly two in the summers. It’s one Sunday that we're asking for here. 

I know, I know, it’s fun to make the same “I know it’s The Superbowl, I’ll have you out of here by halftime,” jokes every year, (Which, by the way, never get old. “ha ha oh pastor, you’re so relevant ha ha”), but I think we can call this one a tax write off. Consider it a donation to charity. I mean, we all know the reason church is never cancelled is because no church means no offering, and no offering means no one is going to save it for next time.

If this doesn’t suit you then have your people call our people. We’re willing to negotiate. Let’s make a deal.

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