The Super Bowl is the one sporting event in U.S. culture that unites much of our nation in front of big-screen TVs and devices each February. The National Football League is the most valuable broadcast property on television, and the Super Bowl looms large as a shared experience. For football fans, it's all about the battle for a championship. For casual fans, it may be more about the commercials and halftime show. Some people don't need a reason to party! They just like being around people.
Because it's one game and not a series, it's easy to plan a party that attracts members and doubles as an outreach event.
Think about what the Super Bowl could mean for your church. Using a big screen for the game and inviting members and guests could bring a sizable crowd. After backlash against an NFL policy regarding a Baptist church's viewing party in 2007, the league scaled back its rules — allowing parties to view the game on virtually any size screen.
Avoid legal issues
To keep your church's party and outreach event in good standing, let's discuss the NFL's ground rules:
- Churches cannot charge a fee to watch the game, but asking for a donation is OK! Viewers can bring in canned goods to defray other costs or help to support your church's ministries.
- Recordings of the game are not permitted.
- Though churches can use the term "Super Bowl" and refer to the teams involved, usage of any NFL logos is prohibited. This includes the NFL shield, the Super Bowl logo and team logos.
Get members and visitors hyped
How do you build interest for your Super Bowl event? Look at these five ideas:
- Announce your party two weeks before the game.There is always a two-week gap between the championship games and the Super Bowl. Conference championship games are held mid- to late-January with the Super Bowl scheduled two weeks later. You will have plenty of opportunities to promote your event via weekly announcements, emails, bulletins, social channels and website.
- Ask members to bring a friend. The Super Bowl is a social event built for a fellowship atmosphere.
- Post your event on Facebook and through your church's other social media channels.
- During your Super Bowl party, use Instagram to post photos of people enjoying the event and to show how your children's ministry and youth ministry got involved.
- Your children's ministry can help your church score a win by helping with the Souper Bowl of Caring. Fully 100 percent of each church's donation directly supports a local hunger-relief charity.
Make the game even more memorable
Now let's talk about the fun part. We have seven ideas to entertain the crowd at your Super Bowl party:
- Get your party room in game shape. Make sure your big-screen TV faces several tables and chairs. Create a space that brings people together.
- What's a Super Bowl party without party food? Encourage members to bring snacks they like for indoor tailgating.
- Offer a team spirit award. Who dresses like a true fan from head to toe? A costume contest can bring some extra enthusiasm to the gathering — especially if your church is near one of the teams' home cities.
- To add a spiritual component, hold a Bible triva contest. This simple idea takes only minutes and works at any time before or during the game. Buy a few books written by Christian athletes to use as rewards. The first person to turn in their trivia questions with the most correct answers gets to choose a book.
- Create and pass out an NFL quiz that will stump die-hard fans! If your church has branded items such as T-shirts, mugs and pens, consider giving a prize package to the winner.
- "Child care will be available." These four words can cause a spike in your attendance. For many young families, locating child care is what determines where they will watch the game. When your church steps up, you open the door to a bigger party. Be sure to observe Safe Sanctuary guidelines, available from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.
- Give the youth a hangout. Having an area for the teens to watch the game and socialize gives them their own space, whether or not they choose to watch the Super Bowl.
No matter which team you root for, your church can make Super Bowl Sunday special.