- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Lutheran pastor in Montana made national headlines for a one-minute sermon he delivered to speed up services and get his congregation home to watch the NFC Divisional Playoff pitting the San Francisco 49ers against the Carolina Panthers.

Still, his one-minute message packed a lot of punch.

The Christian Post reported Pastor Tim Christensen of Gold Hill Lutheran Church asked his congregation: “Would you all like to be forgiven for your sins?” They said yes, and his reply: “OK, you are.”

He then brought up Communion, as seen in a widely watched YouTube video: “There is some bread and some wine up here on the table. You feel free to help yourself if you’d like to.”

He then pulls back his robe to reveal a 49ers shirt — the team that ultimately won, 23-10.

The sermon was well-received by members of the congregation, but not so much by many from the outside church.

“Not exactly the kind of video I would want to ‘go viral,’ ” wrote Sue Seiffert, in response to a message on the Gold Hill Lutheran Facebook page joking about the drive-by sermon. “I am hoping that it was just an opening ‘stunt’ that led to a meaningful reflection on priorities or perhaps on what is core in our worship.”

Football is a frequent and strong competitor for the hearts of church faithful. In February 2013, NewSpring Church in South Carolina actually changed Sunday service time to Saturday night to avoid a stand-off with the Super Bowl, The Christian Post reported.

“Anytime we’ve tried to compete with the Super Bowl … well, it just hasn’t gone well. We’ve tried different approaches to remedy this, but nothing has worked. People just have not come to church,” NewSpring lead pastor Perry Noble said.

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