Superbowl Sunday is almost upon us and there is no reason your Bible teaching ministry or Bible study group should not make the most of this national event. It is actually a great idea to capitalize on big cultural events like the Superbowl. Here are several ways that you might consider taking advantage of Superbowl Sunday, using it to give “lift” to your Bible teaching ministry. Over the past 20 years of leading church education ministries, and now as a leader of a weekly Bible study group, you can bet that I’ve effectively used every one of these multiple times:
- Rename it “SuperGoal Sunday” and have a high attendance day – After the Christmas holidays, people tend to think about resolutions they want to act on in the new year. Sometimes church attendance is one of the spiritual goals people set. January church attendance, because it comes on the heels of a big December for most churches, can be challenging (especially if your part of the country experiences frigid temperatures and wintry weather). Setting a high attendance goal (hence the new name, SuperGoal Sunday) gives churches and groups something to shoot for early in the new year. And a high attendance goal on this special day of the year can be fun for the church – people can wear the jerseys of their favorite teams, the sermon can be crafted to include references to football, and decorating in a football theme is easy (every party supply store will carry lots of football-themed merchandise that is economical, and can be re-used next year). A pastor could introduce his Sunday School teachers to the congregation much like the announcer at a football game announces the starting lineup, using this occasion to introduce teachers (or would they be “groups coaches” for the day?) and encourage guests to attend one of their groups. It is simply another way to reinforce the importance of being connected to a “team” (a Bible study group).
- Encourage groups to host Superbowl fellowships – Many churches already do this, but because they’ve done it for a long time, “Superbowl fatigue” sets in and groups often are increasingly resistant to hosting parties on this night. Constantly remind people why you’re asking them to host a party: to help new people connect to a group, to allow “associate members” (those who teach a kid or student group) to have adult fellowship time with your group, and to give everyone else in the group a chance to hang out and deepen friendships. It’s not about watching the game, per se. To help younger families, the church will need to provide childcare, or childcare vouchers, to families with kids up to sixth grade.
- Host a deacon-sponsored tailgate party right after church – Involve your deacons and let them be the heroes of this kind of event! While the church meets for Bible study and worship, these servant leaders can set aside a section of the parking lot, back up their trucks, and grill hotdogs and burgers. When the church dismisses at noon, lunch is ready. Ask Bible study groups to provide the side dishes and/or drinks. The church can provide the meats, plates, and utensils. Simply ask families to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the free meal. Of course, your part of the country may be extremely cold, so move the eating inside to a fellowship hall, foyer, or even classrooms. What goes better with football than a good tailgating event?!
- Schedule a guest speaker who has ties to the NFL – Now I admit this one is a little harder than the other three suggestions, but it’s not impossible. You just have to ask around, make some calls and inquiries, and do it early. Contact your state convention or local association. One church I served had a former member of the Washington Redskins, and he was all too happy to speak, wear his gigantic Superbowl rings, and let people see those rings up close. He farmed himself out to other churches and spoke at events throughout the year. Look around for former players, coaches, or anyone else with ties to an NFL team. If you bring in a guest speaker, be prepared to be generous towards them financially.
The bad news is that you probably don’t have time to pull this off in 2016. But perhaps you should make note of this post and schedule a time to talk about it with church leaders early in Fall 2016. That way, you can play effectively, promote it well, and pull of an event that is a quality, fun experience for everyone involved in 2017.