Overcoming our Preferences

This happened back in the 1990s. We had the standard Sunday evening service, and in a few months “Super Bowl Sunday” was coming. Now you ought to know, I’m not a football fan. In my marriage, we have a lot of role reversal: I’m the cook, and Lori loves the Green Bay Packers. When she watches a game I’m usually reading or perhaps taking a walk or maybe listening to music. I like to play games–volleyball is my favorite these days. I used to play little league baseball, sandlot football and basketball on my neighbor’s dirt court. But I have little to no interest in watching. The only exception is I enjoy watching the World Series.

I always felt irked that our church had a Sunday evening service, but attendance was typically low. If people loved the Lord, and the congregation believed it was important to have a Sunday evening service, why don’t more people attend?

And on Super Bowl Sunday, attendance dropped even more. A ministry had a Super Bowl promotion. A congregation could get a big screen, show the Super Bowl game, and this ministry involved testimonies by football players that could be shown during the halftime.

I remember one of my deacons said, “I like baseball. Why do this with football and not baseball?” I agreed with his sentiment, but football somewhere surpassed baseball as the great American past-time, and the thought of doing something during what could be a seven game series would be difficult.

My leadership initially agreed with me in doing this. We’d encourage people to invite unsaved friends, and there were plans for follow-up.

At some point some individuals had started quite a talking campaign against this outreach? “What about the alcohol commercials?” (My answer was that our audio visual guys could keep them off screen.) “What if some of the athletes giving testimonies were in alcohol commercials? (“What if’s” can go on forever.)

Ultimately, my leadership caved, and I relented. We didn’t do it.

But I still reflect on my deacon’s comment and question. “Why do this for football and not for baseball?” If I watch a sport, I much prefer baseball. I have no interest in football.

But preferences have to take a backseat to the goal of reaching people for Christ and discipleship.

Ashton C. “AC” Smith



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