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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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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