Pastors, Stop Complaining About Sunday Morning Sports

It’s a common complaint among clergy types: “Sunday morning sports is taking people away from worship!”

This lament and the exasperation that accompanies it goes deeper than just whether a family shows up on a particular Sunday. It is the lament of the loss of the privileged place that the Churchand clergyonce enjoyed in our culture. And in our lament, we risk alienating the very young families we seek to engage.

The emergence of Sunday morning sports is just a symbol of a shift that’s happening in our society where the church is no longer accommodated or propped up by our culture.

Clergy lament this. It makes our jobs harder. But, if we are honest, there is something deeper: It is the resentment of the loss of a privileged place of not only religious institutions, but Christian institutions, and not just Christian institutions, but Christian people, and the leaders of those people, the professional clergy, us.

We are mourning our own diminishing cultural position and privilege. That’s what I hear just under the surface when clergy complain to each other about Sunday morning sports—it’s the loss of our place, our privilege, our position.

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I mean, do you notice how we never complain about activities scheduled for Friday evenings for our Jewish friends or Saturdays for Seventh-Day Adventists, or how they interfere with Hindu or Muslim observances? Other traditions have had to deal with this a lot longer than the Church.

And, frankly, it’s a not a bad thing for the Church to stand on its own, apart from cultural props. I don’t want the Church to be dependent on the world to say Church is important.

I want us to say this is important because of Jesus, the persuasiveness of the Gospel, for its own sake, on its own terms, not because my local Recreation Department says so.

Help Families Reclaim Their Vocation

The problem is our frustration, grief and anger slips out in our preaching, conversation and recruitment.

It is guilt inducing, and we lose the grace we seek to extend to people. We have to watch our language, assumptions, expectations, because most of them were formed in a culture we don’t live in anymore.

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Keith Anderson
I serve as pastor at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church in Ambler, PA and I'm the co-author of the new book Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible (Morehouse, 2012).

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