Pop culture and the ancient message of Christianity merged this weekend at LifeChurch.tv, one of the nation’s fastest growing churches with six Tulsa-area campuses.
While some pastors may be concerned that the NFL’s star-studded Super Bowl extravaganza in Glendale, Arizona, will divert attention from the gospel message, LifeChurch’s founding pastor Craig Groeschel is using the hoopla to his advantage.
A giant inflatable Bixby Spartans football helmet and tunnel outside of the south Tulsa campus of LifeChurch told everyone arriving for the 5 p.m. Saturday service that the Super Bowl was on the agenda.
Church member Gannon Brown manned a grill in a tent outside the church where 1,200 hot dogs were being cooked for the two Saturday night services.
“We’ll cook at least that many tomorrow,” Brown said.
“The premise behind this all is that Super Bowl weekend is a huge weekend that attracts a lot of attention,” he said. “It’s a great way to invite people, to get people through the doors that maybe wouldn’t.”
Greeters wearing NFL jerseys welcomed people as they entered the crowded lobby, where food and soft drinks were served in a tailgate party atmosphere, and children and adults played games like bean bag toss before the service started.
Tome Dawson, campus pastor in south Tulsa and overseer of all six Tulsa-area churches, said the Super Bowl services are always popular.
“The message of Christ must never change. How we communicate that message has to change if we want to communicate to our society and our culture,” Dawson said.
The sanctuary at the 5 p.m. service was packed as Groeschel began his videotaped message called “30 Second Theology,” based on Super Bowl commercials.
Before the weekend is over, the same message will be heard by some 65,000 worshippers in 185 services at 22 LifeChurch campuses.
“Some people like the (football) game, but everybody likes the commercials,” Groeschel said, speaking from three giant video screens.
Advertisers are willing to pay $4.5 million for a 30-second spot because they believe their commercial will spark emotion that may create brand loyalty, he said.
“We’re going to look at them from a spiritual perspective; could they draw me closer to God?”
He played a poignant commercial about a man watching his daughter grow up and leave home.
“The reality of life in God’s word helps me understand just how important every day is, especially with the people you love,” Groeschel said. “It reminds me that my days are numbered. I want to make every single day count.”
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SOURCE: Tulsa World
Bill Sherman, email@example.com