Super Bowl Outreach 2012 Reflections
In 1966, two very important things happened. It was the year of my physical birth, and it was the year of the very first Super Bowl. Since then, God has graciously saved me not because of works of righteousness but by His mercy. I have grown in grace because of the kindness of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Super Bowl has also grown into an incredible social event. It is not only a game, but a museum of living history (The Super Bowl Experience) where hundreds of thousands of people descend on a city to join in the worship of a game and its players and the two best teams in the league for that year.
This year was the first year that I can remember that I did not gather with family and friends to watch the Super Bowl. In hundreds of living rooms and churches across the country, people gather around this event and use it as an ‘outreach‘ to their family and friends. Though I have been a part of these type of outreaches, in many of them the Gospel is watered down to a few trite phrases that won’t make anyone feel all that uncomfortable about their situation. Even worse, for the most part the entire truth of the Gospel is not presented at all for fear that it might ruin the mood or atmosphere. This opportunity is wasted more times than it is taken advantage of. The law that can convince sinners of their need is glossed over by a weak message of God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, or I can do all things (like be a superstar NFL player) through Christ who strengthens me. Many false convertshave been created on Super Bowl Sunday.
This year I had the privilege of joining Sports Fan Outreach International and 102 other evangelists to preach in the open air, share one to one with people, and distribute over 103,000 gospel tracts to those attending the Super Bowl. The whole counsel of God was shared as people passed by. A few stayed and listened, those who did not got a tract so they could examine it later on. People from all over the country descend on one city over the Super Bowl week, so therefore the reach is incredible. The Sports Fan outreach team worked with Marv Plementosh of One Million Tractsto link with churches across the country that could help those who heard the message to get connected to a local fellowship. Over 100,000 of these tracts went out, and we pray that by His grace God would save some as the result of His Word going out.
The Super Bowl has become a manifestation and a microcosm of the wickedness that has descended on this nation. While there was 103 evangelists in our group, there were hundreds of prostitutes flown in for the overflow business being done. There were tracts handed out, but also cards encouraging men to go to the strip clubs that abounded in the area. There is a law in the city of Indianapolis that restricts the public consumption of alcohol that was rescinded for the Super Bowl week, so public drunkeness
abounded. There was such an awareness of the crime that would abound that many manhole covers had cameras installed as an attempt to catch the pickpockets that were working the area. This is what we were in the midst of, indeed darkness and wickedness abounded, and light was in the midst of this darkness. The gospel was proclaimed, but as it says in John 3:18-20
John 3:18-20 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
And the microcosm is thus, the law was rightfully applied ( 1 Timothy 1:8-11)and the Gospel that people could be saved from their
sins was presented, and those who were still in the darkness became angry. As is typical in these outreaches, we had many different kinds of Christians approach us. Some were genuine converts, busily distributing tracts or sharing the good news. Others were there with their families, relaxing, but happy that the Gospel was being proclaimed. Others were challenged- some because their profession of faith did not line up with the way they were dressed or the fact that they were drunk or using foul language. In all cases the good news was proclaimed, objections answered graciously, and the enemies of the cross were warned and loved all at the same time.
The challenge when returning from such an event as this is twofold: The evangelist who is married must return home and serve his or her spouse who has been holding down the fort while they were gone, so we must love and serve our families. But we also must return to our home towns and be salt and light inside and outside our churches.
We must proclaim the Gospel through our marriage, the way that we do our work, and by proclamation by tract, conversation, or on a corner. Any way that we do it, we must preach the whole counsel of God, demonstrating our love of God first and love of people second. And we must do it all for the glory of God. Will you go?