Eugene Cho

super bowl idolatry

My family and I spent the weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia to mark our wedding anniversary.  It felt foreign but refreshing to not be at church with any responsibilities.  And conveniently, it happened to be Super Bowl Sunday.  Great game, eh?  The kids and the wife weren’t so interested but I enjoyed the game.  By now, you’ve all heard about what may come down as one of the greatest upsets. 

As I was watching the game, I mentioned to my wife that it’s been six years since I’ve watched the Super Bowl.  I’ve caught the last few minutes here and there but this was first time I’ve seen the game in its entirety in six years.  I enjoy sports but the reason is because Quest began with a 5pm gathering and has continued to host the 5pm service [along with a 9.15am and 11am].

And every year during Super Bowl Sunday, the church staff gets our share of inquiries, emails, prayer requests, and bribe money to either cancel the 5pm service or reschedule it to another time slot – in lieu of a churchwide party at the church building or warehouse.  And honestly, I was very tempted couple years ago when the Seahawks played the Pittsburgh Stealers in the big game but Minhee was quick to rebuke the living daylights out of me in my moment of weakness.

So, if one chooses to go to an earlier service or altogether miss church that Sunday, it’s no biggie since we’re all adults and can make your own decisions.  Better yet, plan your wedding on that weekend so you can take a trip out of town during your anniversary.  I’m cool with folks hosting their parties; going to neighbors’ homes; partying with co-workers, etc. But won’t cancel “church” because “church” should be seen more than an “event” that we can just cancel or reschedule.  And if you’re a pastor or leader that have wrestled with this and made the “other” decision – more power to you.  I’m sure you have good reasons.

As for me, I’ve come to peace that even if no one shows up to the 5pm service, it just doesn’t matter.  Until the 5pm folds or moves to another permanent time slot, we’re going to hold our time of worship, songs and psalms, teaching, and communion.  And regarding the Super Bowl being a great “outreach” event, gimme a break…   I’d love to hear otherwise if I’m wrong.

But I must say…that was an incredible catch.

Filed under: religion, sports

9 Responses

  1. BK says:

    I agree with you but it’s just hard for churches if they only hold one service around that time slot. I would assume that it’s easier for you since you have other services for people to attend.

  2. Janet says:

    I don’t know if I’d go as far as using “idolatry” to describe the event but it’s definitely become some sort of religious or cultura festival/holiday of sorts.

  3. awsaufley says:

    I almost agree with your “Super Bowl outreach” comment. Our church has done Super Bowl “outreach” in the past (not knowing that the NFL could come after us for putting it on the big screen!), and it was a full-blown failure. However, this year I was invited to a neighbor’s Super Bowl party because my little girl and their girls are friends. They are definitely not “churched”. We watched the game, and spent most of the 4th quarter chatting… about faith, about the church. The conversation was completely started by them. It was really cool, and definitely opened a door for future conversations. It was the coolest Super Bowl ever (and I watch them all).

    So the Super Bowl can be outreach… if Christians will make the effort to develop real friendships with their neighbors and trust God to open up doors. Who knows what can happen?

  4. josh says:

    i missed the game. believe it or not i was with some folks who were in a car wreck. so i got to check my phone for scores sitting on a curb in st. pete. brilliant.

  5. e cho says:

    awsaufley: meeting with friends, neighbors, and strangers in people’s homes sound great cause it’s natural. the idea of opening up the church to host a super bowl party sound unnatural and forced to me. but then again, i hear how churches draw hundreds to that sort of an event. i don’t oppose the latter but not supportive of canceling a normal worship communal gathering for the super bowl holiday.

  6. Brian says:

    In the day of Tivo and DVR it is certainly not difficult to remain faithful to the time you have set for “worship, songs and psalms, teaching, and communion.” What I find significant is that your position is that you would miss the Superbowl for these without reservation. I am with you. I can always watch another Superbowl but time spent with God, time in the presence of the Spitit is irreplacable. P.S. You are welcome at my place to watch the Superbowl anytime.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I’m grateful that we keep the 5 no matter the teams playing-there was a good group of us who came to the five and had great worship and fellowship. We’re not going to fold anytime soon!

  8. Ric Wild says:

    I totally respect the decision to hold the 5 PM service, even on the Super Bowl. But I work at a church in New England, I didn’t think for a second that I would actually have our normal Sunday night youth group. I literally would have been playing capture the flag alone.

  9. Kim says:

    But won’t cancel “church” because “church” should be seen more than an “event” that we can just cancel or reschedule.

    Wow!! That just really hit me right now, thanks Eugene. So true.

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One Day’s Wages

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Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

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  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
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  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 6 days ago