Is it okay to skip church to watch the Super Bowl?

This is becoming less and less of an issue as fewer churches have Sunday evening services. But, assuming your church has a Sunday evening service, the answer to this question comes down to priorities. What is your priority, worshipping God or watching football? God is to always take first priority in our life (Exodus 20:3) and nothing should hinder our relationship with Him. We are commanded to not forsake gathering together (Hebrews 10:25). So, with this in mind, we can know one thing for sure – the Super Bowl should not be more important to us than God!

This does not necessarily settle the issue though. Missing a single church service does not necessarily mean you are neglecting your relationship with God. There are multitudes of reasons that people occasionally miss church: having to work, the weather, sickness (self or family), other family problems, a vacation, etc. Does missing church for one of these reasons mean that reason is more important to you than God? The Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event in the world. It happens once per year and is the crowning game of the most popular televised sport in the United States. For many people, it is one of the most looked forward to events of the year. The problem is that it just happens to be placed on a Sunday every year.

I have to admit, this is a difficult question for me. I am a HUGE football fan! I openly admit, vegetating in front of the TV on Sunday afternoons in the fall and winter is one of my favorite "hobbies." Some churches cancel their Sunday evening service on Super Bowl Sunday. Other churches have some form of Super Bowl fellowship in place of their Sunday evening service. I know of a church that invites all of the youth from the community to come and watch the Super Bowl on a big screen – and then has a devotional during halftime in which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed.

I believe this is a good example of what the Apostle Paul was speaking of in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, "…I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." There are definitely positive ways believers can use the Super Bowl (and other sporting events) to reach the lost for Jesus Christ. To the football fans, I became a football fan, so that I might win the football fans – (very loose paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 9:19-22).

So, what is the answer? Here are what I believe are the truly important issues at hand:

(1) Will missing the Sunday evening service be detrimental to your walk with God (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 John 1:7)?

(2) Can you honestly say that if your presence were genuinely needed you would gladly skip the Super Bowl to be present at the service (Hebrews 12:2)?

(3) Can you honor God and give thanks while watching the Super Bowl (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)?

(4) Will your lack of attendance at church be a stumbling block for anyone else (1 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 6:3)?

I would invite you to pray for wisdom concerning what God would have you to do. God promises to give us wisdom when we ask (James 1:5). If you can honestly answer the questions (1) No, (2) Yes, (3) Yes, (4) No – then I would say enjoy the game! Go whoever is playing the Patriots this year!

S. Michael Houdmann

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Is it okay to skip church to watch the Super Bowl?