We visit a lot of churches so we have a fairly large sample size to draw from. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that it is fairly common for the “call to worship” to include some kind of commentary on football! It is always done in a light touch and a smile and I understand the pastor’s desire to appear relevant to current events. Honestly, I’d rather hear that than some kind of political comment (and, yes, I’ve heard that too).
Listen, I like football and sports in general. I like talking about it with my friends. But when I go to church my focus is on something else — Someone else. Start the service off with something spiritual; maybe a reminder that we are gathering for a serious purpose. That’s not to say we don’t come with joy and expectation – or that we don’t enjoy fellowship with one another. Of course we do.
It seems to me many of us are already struggling to get our minds off of a thousand other things as we come to worship. Instead of legitimizing the trivial how about reading a powerful passage of scripture and reminding worshipers that we serve an awesome God and that we are, right now, coming into his presence?
I have to admit that I didn’t arrive at this opinion early in my ministry. In fact, as a young pastor I let the song leader (that’s what we called them back in the old days) get up and announce the first song. This without any input from me at all. As time passed I began to think about how we were beginning our worship services and decided that some of our high church friends were on to something with their liturgical calls to worship.
I started seeking out scriptures that called people into worship and began opening services with scripture and prayer. It may just be my imagination but I think the services took on a more Christ-centered atmosphere.
Now, all the above, I know, must be taken with a strong dose of common sense. When the home town team is playing the Super Bowl there’s room for some level of public commentary. Also, there’s a lot of good sermon illustrations in the world of sports. Still, that kind of stuff has a very limited shelf life and should be used sparingly.
This is, of course, all just my opinion. Still, pastor, it might be reasonable to consider how to best invite people to enter into a spirit of worship.