The NFL’s big Sunday is near upon us, and there is no reason your Bible teaching ministry or Bible study group should not make the most of this national event. It is actually a great idea for small groups to capitalize on big cultural events like the NFL championship. Here are several ways that you might consider taking advantage of big game Sunday, using it to give a “lift” to your Bible teaching ministry.
- Rename it “Super Goal Sunday” and have a high attendance day – A high attendance goal on this special day can be fun for the church—people can wear the jerseys of their favorite teams, the sermon can be crafted to include references to football, and the fellowship hallway can be decorated in a football theme. A pastor could introduce his group leaders to the congregation much like the announcer at a football game announces the starting lineup, using this occasion to introduce teachers (or “groups coaches” for the day) and encouraging guests to attend one of their groups. It’s simply another way to reinforce the importance of being connected to a “team” (a Bible study group).
- Encourage groups to host big game fellowships – Many churches already do this, but because they’ve done it for a long time, “Super Sunday fatigue” sets in and groups often are increasingly resistant to hosting parties on this night. Constantly remind people why you’re asking them to host a party: to help new people connect to a group, to allow “associate members” (those who teach a kid or student group) to have adult fellowship time with your group, and to give everyone else in the group a chance to hang out and deepen friendships. To help younger families, the church will need to provide childcare, or childcare vouchers, to families with kids up to sixth grade.
- Host a deacon-sponsored tailgate party right after church – Involve your deacons and let them be the heroes of this event! While the church meets for Bible study and worship, these servant leaders can set aside a section of the parking lot, back up their trucks, and grill hotdogs and burgers. When the church dismisses at noon, lunch is ready. Ask Bible study groups to provide the side dishes or drinks. The church can provide the meats, plates, and utensils. Simply ask families to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the free meal. Of course, your part of the country may be extremely cold, so move the eating inside to a fellowship hall, foyer, or even a classroom. What goes better with football than a good tailgating event?!
- Schedule a guest speaker who has ties to the NFL – I admit this one is a little harder than the other three suggestions, but it’s not impossible. You just have to ask around, make some calls and inquiries, and do it early. Contact your state convention or local association. One church I served had a former member of the Washington Redskins, and he was all too happy to speak, wear his gigantic Superbowl rings, and let people see those rings up close. He farmed himself out to other churches and spoke at events throughout the year. Look around for former players, coaches, or anyone else with ties to an NFL team. If you bring in a guest speaker, be prepared to be generous toward them financially.
Ken Braddy is a group leader, and manages Lifeway’s adult ongoing Bible studies. He blogs daily about groups at kenbraddy.com.