Football and Faith

November 27th, 2016

We were at my parents’ house with the whole gang. It was a beautiful Saturday on Labor Day weekend, and everyone was relaxed and excited about watching football games all day. We found out earlier that morning that our favorite games would be on at the same time: A&M vs. UCLA and Texas State vs. Ohio were both on at 2:30. So my brother Matt, wielder of the remote, faithfully went back and forth so that he could watch his Aggies and I could watch my Texas State Bobcats.

Both games went into overtime, and both teams came away with victories. However, Texas State, for me at least, by far gave the most exciting game. They pulled out a huge upset win against Ohio in the third overtime. They lost the lead in the fourth quarter with seconds to go then evened up the score with no time left on the clock. The final play of the game was a HUGE sack that sealed the Texas State victory. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I was so excited and thrilled for our team, new head coach, and coaching staff to get such a memorable win!

These feelings led me to some spiritual evaluation. I have been taught and have even taught my teenagers to question why do I feel that way about this game, but I don’t feel that way about worship on Sunday? It is perfectly legitimate to ask this question desiring to make sure we do not worship idols of football or anything else. However, this time I felt that God was using football to inform my worship and ministry. Weird? Yes. Incomprehensible? No.

Worship vs. Enjoyment

God used that game to help me see the excitement I should have for His glory, His salvation brought to me, and His work in our church. I lose this excitement sometimes because of the mundane and difficult aspects of ministry, but God used Texas State football to reignite a dampened flame of ecstatic joy for His work in our church. Of course, there is no room in the Christian’s life for worship of football. If football or any other thing supersedes God’s glory in our lives, then we must put a stop to it immediately. However, excitement and enjoyment are not the same as worship.

Other things in my life serve a similar purpose. I really enjoy getting outside after a long office day and grilling dinner for my family. I enjoy building a fire in the fire pit and burning some old brush and trimmings at the end of the day. I enjoy a good cup of coffee every morning. Though not related to church directly, enjoying small things like these can replenish you and encourage you in your walk with Jesus.

What are some things you enjoy? A good game of baseball or softball? Reading literature or pop fiction? Working around the house? Visiting National parks?

My challenge to youth ministers (and really anyone in a pastoral staff position) is to not give up your hobbies and things you love to do/watch/enjoy that are not necessarily church-related because they can still be faith-related. Instead, enjoy them and allow God to use them to replenish you and inform you about Him, His use of you in the church, and His desires for your life and ministry.

brianBrian Gunter is the Youth Minister at First Baptist Canyon Lake in Texas. He’s the husband of Melanie and the daddy of Emalyn Grace.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.