Most churchgoers would not miss service for football - study

Pastors everywhere are sure to be buoyed by a new study by LifeWay Research which found that most churchgoers will not skip church just to watch their favourite football team.

LifeWay Research, which is based in Nashville, conducted a survey among 994 churchgoers asking if they would skip a weekly worship service in order to watch their favourite football team.

Reassuringly, only around 15 per cent of them agreed that they would most likely skip services to see a game involving their favourite football team.

But a solid 83 per cent of believers disagreed with doing this and out of the 83 per cent, 68 per cent said they strongly disagree.

"Most churchgoers put divine revelation ahead of division rivalries," said Scott McConnell, vice-president of LifeWay Research.

The worst offenders were churchgoers in the US's West, with nearly a quarter (22 per cent) prepared to skip church in favour of watching their team play. Far fewer in the South and Northeast were willing to miss services (13 per cent each).

From those who are willing to skip, 22 percent are men and 10 percent are women.
Catholic football fans (20 percent) are most likely to skip church compared to evangelicals (12 percent).

Daniel Espy, pastor of The Bridge Church, near Seattle, in Washington State, came up with a novel way of allowing his flock to enjoy both church and football.

According to LifeWay, he started an 8am service to accommodate Seahawks fans two years ago and to his surprise the idea took off around Seattle. He notes that on the days the Seahawks have a game, attendance still swings about 30 to 40 per cent so it's not the perfect solution.

And he also hastens to add that the church still encourages the faithful to put Jesus first.

"Honestly, we just try to show people that Jesus is better than football," he said.