Those of you not on the West Coast can’t totally appreciate this question. Pastors all over Pacific Northwest face this “dreadful” moment when the Seahawks have an early away game. Time zone differences “gift” us with a 10:05am start Sunday morning.
When the Seahawks have an away game….do churches adjust their services to fit into the football phenomena or preserve the core of the Sabbath and encourage people to put God first?
And it’s even more problematic if they are in the playoffs!
Here is the problem with this question. People think there is an answer. There is NOT.
The problem is everyone likes to build sides. For some reason, within the church we get deeply emotional about the side we take. We build walls between churches.
We pride ourselves with: “My church holds the line and doesn’t compromise for football,” or “My church shows the game and will even cancel a service for football.”
For decades I have lived my life by this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, an American novelist and short story writer. This insight from him changed my life: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
Think about it. People with first-rate intelligence have the ability to hold two opposing ideas in their mind at the same time – and retain the ability to function.
I believe two things deeply:
1. Followers of Jesus should honor the Sabbath and not let meaningless “stuff” get in the way of celebrating with the people of God.
2. It’s awesome to like football.
I hold these two seemingly opposing ideas very deeply in my heart and mind…and, I believe in both statements 100%.
Jim Collins talks about the “Tyranny of the OR.” He says the tyranny of the “or” pushes people to believe that things must be either A OR B, but not both.
Collins says, “Instead of being oppressed by the “Tyranny of the OR,” highly visionary companies liberate themselves with the “Genius of the AND”— the ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time. Instead of choosing between A OR B, they figure out a way to have both A AND B (Built to Last, kindle location 1105-1107).
Your ability to hold two opposing views and think in terms of “and” – not “or” – shows your emotional and intellectual depth.
I believe wholeheartedly in:
- Sabbath AND Football
- Free Will AND Providence of God
- Contemporary Worship AND Timeless Hymns
- Attractional churches AND Missional Churches
- Sacred Marriage AND Restoration After Divorce
- Creating a Culture of Continuous Recalibration AND Preserving the Core. (I write about this in my next book releasing in April 2016. Be one of the first people to get a free copy HERE.)
I am able to hold these opposing ideas in my mind. I embrace the genius of the “AND.”
So back to my question: Should churches change their service schedule for the Seahawks?
I respect churches that don’t adjust their schedules…AND I respect churches that do. You may think I am being political. I’m not. It is the genius of the “and;” the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and being able to function.
Every pastor has to reach deep down and answer this question for their congregation. They have to look at their particular environments, culture, and people groups – then make a decision.
There is NOT a right or wrong answer! It is an issue of personal conscience and of the leadership philosophy within a congregation.
The apostle Paul spoke of personal convictions and conscience in Romans 14:12-13 and concluded, “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God”. Then Paul clearly instructs, “let us stop passing judgment on one another.” He is referring to issues of personal conscience not clear scriptural convictions.
On a personal level: I am one of those pastors having to make this decision. I take it seriously. I don’t always call it right. But I can honestly tell you—I always am trying to hear what God is saying for New Life and hold NO judgement for those who make different decisions than me. I respect the process leaders have to go through.
This is why I love Saturday night service and why we are changing to 9am this Sunday and then watching the game together. Our goal is create an environment where people can honor the Sabbath AND cheer on the Hawks.