Pass the wings, and praise the Lord: it’s Super Bowl Sunday in America!
No other event brings our divided nation together like the Super Bowl. It’s a mashup between extreme athleticism and mass merchandising. And since the Kansas City Chiefs will be on the ticket, we can guarantee there will be plenty of barbecue.
It’s unlike any other Sunday of the year.

Consider the numbers: according to the ratings people, about 149 million viewers watched at least six minutes of last year’s Super Bowl. Advertising revenues will likely end up north of half a billion dollars this year. Thirty-second slots have sold for more than $5 million. There’s more at stake than just deciding who takes home the Lombardi trophy: it’s an economic powerhouse generating billions of dollars.

 That’s a whole lot of nachos and wings. It’s a super-sized spectacle.

And, before I get too far, let me add a reminder. Don’t forget to participate in helping our youth collect canned goods and cash to benefit Presbyterian Children’s Homes. Our annual participation in the Super Bowl of Caring is a reminder that feeding the hungry is bigger than a football game. Bring your donations and join the fun!

The Super Bowl has been around almost my entire life. It’s ratings have risen and fallen, but it is generally a widely-watched event. It bridges divides, brings friends together, and creates lots to talk about on Monday morning.  It’s interesting to reflect on the contrast between the growth of super-sized sporting events since the 1960s and plummeting church attendance. I’m not suggesting they’re related. But it has made me wonder if Jesus needs a new jingle.

Alas, most church marketing slogans stink. Church members get queasy at the thought of billboards broadcasting “His blood is for you!” as a communion ad. A retro-themed commercial featuring a church choir singing “Don’t You Forget About Me!” won’t make it, but I’ve been wondering about getting a drone to fly over Woodlawn Chapel with a little Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” playing.

Too much?

“The people who brought you Christmas,” might work, but it’s a bit unfocused. “We’ve come a long way since the Inquisition” is a tad too dark. Let’s settle with: “Woodlawn: We’ve Got The Donuts.”

Culturally, church attendance is sliding downward. Yet by and large most Americans will affirm that they believe in God, and many people will describe affinity for being part of a church – even if they don’t attend regularly. But here’s the thing: the community we have found and cherish, the mission and service we provide, the nurture and love we experience – all of that grows from our worship. It’s the central aspect of who we are as God’s people.

But it’s a hard message to sell.

Church marketing is tricky because the sizzle that sells our steak is something intangible. The story of faith we tell is indeed amazing, but it will take more than an advertisement to communicate. How can you communicate the many ways God has made a difference in your life? How do you let others know that a church like Woodlawn Chapel is a church where all persons are accepted, where children are cherished, youth are celebrated, and older adults encouraged?

It’s something to think about as you enjoy the game.