Each year as the Super Bowl approaches churches spend considerable energy strategizing the best ways to engage attenders on the big day. I think it’s a prime time to bring up a concept I’ve been promoting for nearly two decades.
Preaching should be considered a sport.
Now before the sports and religion purists angrily hit that x in the upper right corner, or write up articles of excommunication allow me to present the case.
Consider preparation time. Preparing a quality sermon requires hours of diligent study. Sure, you can download a hot one from Sermon Central or some other “pastor help” website (and don’t tell me you haven’t considered it!) but for an oratorical masterpiece, you need TIME.
It might be argued that preaching requires no athletic ability. I humbly disagree. Just ask any pastor how physically exhausted they are at the end of a Sunday. Besides, is athleticism necessary? You certainly do not need it for chess, pool, or cornhole, all of which have achieved the designation “sport.”
Some will contend that a sport requires an “achievable goal.” While it would be challenging to keep an objective score for sermons (after all, much of the effectiveness is long-term and spiritual), just remember that some events considered sports do not have an objective outcome. Figure skating, gymnastics, and snowboarding are all in the eyes of the judges, and if you think sermons do not get judged, try preaching to the average Baptist congregation.
With preaching firmly established as a sport, a few appropriate changes would improve the average worship service. The worship minister could lead the congregation to begin the service with the “wave.” This will wake everyone up and help wary visitors feel at home. Of course, some will not participate, but that will make the sleepers more obvious.
Another idea whose time has come is training the ushers in the techniques of the refreshment vendors. Having them pass up and down the aisle throughout the service will increase the opportunities for giving, and their chatter will entertain those bored by a low-scoring sermon.
A long-standing problem in churches is getting someone to sit on the front row. Let’s give those willing to sit in the “spit pit,” number cards to hold as they score the sermon. This will keep them interested in the service and give the pastor immediate feedback as to how he is doing. A low score should alert him it’s time to throw in a gnarly illustration to try and save the routine . . . I mean sermon.
After a particularly good sermon, it would encourage any pastor to have the choir/worship team/staff douse him with a cooler of Gatorade. Communion wine would work, or if you’re a Baptist, just throw him in the baptistery.
There are many sport concepts that could be incorporated into a worship service. Commentators (“Well, Dan, Pastor Cameron got off to a slow start, but he’s been building up steam since he threw that humorous anecdote in. Let’s just hope he can stick that conclusion soon. The judges down front are getting restless.”), half-time, and a bullpen (a surprisingly fitting term considering some sermons I’ve endured/preached) could all become a part of our church parlance.
With today’s “seeker-sensitive” trends, I’m surprised some have not already implemented this. It’s an idea whose time has come. We may all soon be packing our scorecards in our Bibles! I’m sure you have more suggestions for this. I’d love to discuss them, but I have to go find something that will remove Gatorade stains.