GALVESTON — In Texas, it has been suggested, spectator sports have come to parallel religions. After all, each sports has its own rituals, calendar, specially dressed officials and scads of faithful adherents. Not to mention long-running spats among fans.
Now since both young people and many men are choosing to sleep in on Sunday mornings but rise up in time to watch the big games on TV, often beginning at noon, what’s a church to do?
If you’re Chris Spivey, the new worship and arts director of Galveston’s West Point Church, 3003 Ave. M, you might forge a mashup between faith and sports, redecorating the sanctuary first as a football field for this past Super Bowl Sunday and then again to reflect the upcoming NCAA March Madness basketball event.
“It is my belief that men are seeking to find something that is more suitable for their way of life,” Spivey said. “Moreover, because some churches are not progressing with our ever-changing times, young people and men tend to migrate away, seeking a more comfortable and fulfilling environment. This generation is more tech-savvy, nontraditional and more edgy than past generations.”
So, alongside traditional Bible teaching, Spivey is adding some auditorium accouterments.
“The sanctuary will be decorated as a basketball arena, and the stage will be transformed into an actual basketball court,” he said. “Members and guests will have the opportunity to wear their favorite basketball team’s apparel or attire, and there will be special guests joining us for worship at this service. This will not be your ordinary, traditional worship service, but it’ll be packed with excitement, enthusiasm and high praise.”
West Point’s March Madness will begin at 10:05 a.m. March 16.
As far as anyone can remember, this sports-in-the-sanctuary trend is a new thing under the sun at the 143-year-old church. And although Spivey is a recent arrival from Austin, he’s not new to ministry. In fact, he began leading church worship services as a musician at the tender age of 13.
“My vision is to share with West Point and the Galveston County area the gifts which God has given me through creative arts and music,” Spivey, 34, said. “Also, I want to create a ministry that is both out of the box, but in the Word. I want to show people it’s OK to have fun in church. Change is good. I believe that if we want to save this generation, we must change our mind and become non-traditionalists.”
Is it working? The church recorded five new converts during its Super Bowl session, so Spivey is satisfied that the changes he has made are more than cosmetic.
“My job is to ensure that the music is centered around the message and that it sets the atmosphere for worship,” he said. “The great thing about these services is while the themes change, the message of Jesus Christ stays the same,” Spivey said.
Rick Cousins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.