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Sunday, while the Bears prepare to play the Colts for the NFL championship in Super Bowl XLI, pulpits around the nation will have their own battle with the pews. Church attendance has been known to drop drastically on Super Bowl Sunday as the Gospel shares its pews with gridiron.

The Associated Press reported an average of 45.85 million homes tuned in for last year's game, making it the second-most watched ever only to the final M*A*S*H episode. This year's game promises to be just as exciting, with two teams that have not seen a national championship in decades. In the Super Bowl's 41-year history, there never has been an African-American head coach on the sidelines. This year there will be two.

For many congregations around the nation, the 4:25 p.m. MST kickoff falls right before or right after the start of their evening services. Our congregation's Spanish service begins at 4 p.m. Utah time.

Some churches either shift or cancel Sunday night service to accommodate Super Bowl fanatics. This may be viewed as sacrilege on the Sabbath, but pastors around the nation are recognizing the Super Bowl as a chance to reach out to members and nonmembers whose first priority may not be church and to build fellowship among its faithful.

One such church is St. John Primitive Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla. The church hosts an annual Super Bowl party. Benjamin Adams, the 38-year-old senior pastor, describes the event as "a chance for people who don't regularly attend church to take a look at St. John and hopefully feel like it's a place where they could see themselves."

Our congregation's own party is one of the best-attended events of the year. Following what I like to call a "football sermon" - a shortened sermon - we assemble in our gymnasium, pull out the folding chairs, serve snacks and beverages and project the game on a big-screen TV. Our fellowship begins with prayer and we forgo the halftime show.

Many of those in attendance are not regular churchgoers.

The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 4:5, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity."

I'm certain God is not any more a Colts fan than a Bears fan, but I'm praying for a Colts victory.


* COREY J. HODGES writes about current events and ideas from a moral perspective. Hodges, the senior pastor of the New Pilgrim Baptist Church in Taylorsville, welcomes comments at coreyjhodges@ You may also comment to