By Polly Keary, Editor
Love God and football?
At two local churches, team spirit and the Holy Spirit live in the same house.
In Sultan and in Monroe, the pastors of those churches are bringing Seahawks fever into sermons, and finding ways to tie spirituality and sports.
The Rock Church, Monroe
It’s hard to find a bigger Seahawks fan than Pastor Jeff Knight of Monroe. He and his wife, fellow Pastor Melinda Knight, have season tickets.
And Jeff often wears his jersey behind the pulpit on Sunday.
He never asks his congregation to choose between sports and a sermon on Sunday. Throughout the football season, the Rock Church is holding a series of Seahawks-themed sermons.
And on days when there is an important game, the whole congregation sometimes sticks around after services and tailgates, watching the game together with barbecue and snacks.
Knight finds inspiration in the stories of some of the athletes on the team, and works those tales into his addresses.
“Our whole theme for January has been “The Making of a Champion,” said his assistant Beth Neibert.
“Integrating the stories about the Seahawks players has been phenomenal, like Marshawn Lynch, where he came from and what he came through. And there’s a lot of strong Christians, including our quarterback, and they show it on the field, and Pastor Jeff pulled their messages on videos into the message series and it’s been awesome.”
When a game last year coincided with scheduled services, the Rock Church worked around it.
“We watched it, and then at half time we had a service,” she said. “We opened up the back wall and had a barbecue and everything.”
Earlier this year, the congregation tailgated at the church, combining both scheduled morning services into one big one and then gathering for the game.
“We rolled up the back walls and had a barbecue in the parking lot, and people brought food and we had recliners and everything,” she said. “It was really fun. It turned out to be an awesome day, we had in the neighborhood of 250 people watching the game and hanging out together.”
On Super Bowl Sunday, since the game doesn’t start until 3:30 p.m., the church will hold regularly-scheduled 9 and 11:30 a.m. services and will give away Seahawks swag.
There was some talk of showing the game at the church, but it didn’t seem practical, so there will be small group activities, and then the church is encouraging congregationalists to host gatherings in their homes and enjoy the game together.
Niebert said that the Rock Church sees sports and spirituality as a natural fit.
“We love God and we love people and we love enjoying life,” she said.
Crosswater Church, Sultan
Everyone knows that sometimes the best part of Super Bowl is the ads.
So at Crosswater, the pastor has invited the congregation to try their hand at making a fun sales pitch on video in the style of a Super Bowl ad.
Only instead of selling cars or beer, they’ll be, ahem, hawking church.
“What we are doing is asking people from the congregation to come up with their own commercial promoting Jesus,” said Associate Pastor Jon Merwin. “We’re going off the popularity of the commercials, which sometimes are more interesting that the game.”
Although, he hastened to add, this game is likely going to be a good one.
Crosswater Church meets at Sultan High School, so decorating the church in blue and green as some churches have done is not as much of an option.
But making commercials is a fun way to get God into the game.
Super Bowl Sunday, they’ll watch the commercials that people have made using video cameras or phone cameras. It’ll be part of a single big 10 a.m. service that will replace the two services held on most Sundays.
“We are trying to create a party atmosphere,” said Merwin, who is himself a Seahawks fan. “We are calling it Blue Sunday and asking people to wear their Seahawks gear. We’re hoping to have a little fun.”