by Tim Ellsworth
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (BP) — The hometown Vikings may have fallen just short of playing in this year’s Super Bowl, but that hasn’t diminished the enthusiasm of Twin Cities churches and Christians in their evangelism efforts surrounding the event.
“Here’s a great opportunity for the Twin Cities, for Minnesota, to share the love of Christ,” said Chris Reinertson, lead pastor of Southtown Baptist Church and also the director of missions for the Twin Cities Metro Baptist Association.
Reinertson said area churches have mobilized in an effort to obey the Scriptural command in Ephesians 5:15: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
The best use of the time for Christians in the Twin Cities, Reinertson said, is to tell people, whether local residents or visitors, about Jesus.
One of the tools for doing that is a Super Bowl-themed magazine published by Sports Spectrum. The 32-page publication features NFL stars Carson Wentz, Drew Brees and Demario Davis on the cover and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen on the back cover.
“He’s just a great miracle story because he went to a Division II college and didn’t get drafted,” Reinertson said of Thielen. “Now he’s a Pro-Bowler, and he’s sold out for Christ.”
Steve Stenstrom, president of Pro Athletes Outreach, said the magazine features testimonies from NFL players and devotionals and has been made available to every church in the Twin Cities. PAO, an organization that ministers to professional athletes and their spouses, purchased Sports Spectrum a couple of years ago.
Stenstrom said PAO shipped 200,000 copies of the magazine to Twin Cities churches and 300,000 copies of a shorter pamphlet for distribution. In addition, Sports Spectrum produced a video called “Football Sunday” that is available to churches nationwide that are interested in showing it in connection with the Super Bowl. That video is available at www.footballsunday.com
Southtown has provided free copies of the magazine to members for the past few weeks.
“We’re encouraging our people to give them to friends and neighbors,” Reinertson said. “It’s just a great tool to share in a non-threatening way with people who love football and might not know about Christ.”
Philip Nache, a church planter with the North American Mission Board and pastor of Hope of Nations Gospel Church in Minneapolis, has conducted evangelism training sessions in recent weeks in preparation for the Super Bowl. Hope of Nations is located in close proximity to U.S. Bank Stadium, where Sunday’s game will be played.
This weekend, members of Nache’s church and four other local congregations will walk around the area engaging in conversations with people on the street with the intent of sharing the Gospel with them.
“The Great Commission is the mission of the church,” said Nache, a native of Nigeria. He regularly emphasizes the importance of evangelism to his congregation, and he’s thankful for the opportunity that the Super Bowl presents for them to practice what he has been teaching.
Though Minneapolis and St. Paul aren’t typically identified as cities with a strong Southern Baptist presence, Reinertson said the denomination’s church planting efforts are bearing fruit. About five years ago, there were about 25 or 30 Southern Baptist churches in the Twin Cities, according to Reinertson. Now there are 55, with another 10 church plants in the works. Reinertson expects that number to climb to 80 or 100 within the next five years.
“God is moving, powerfully,” he said.
Reinertson pointed to concerted efforts to partner with other evangelical Christian churches in the area, even if they are not specifically Southern Baptist congregations, that are committed to church planting.
“One of the big reasons why we are growing rapidly in church planting is because we are seeking to partner with Bethlehem Baptist Church, Wooddale Church and all these other churches that have been and are planting churches in the Twin Cities,” he said.
Reinertson hopes the Super Bowl will play a role in that, by giving Christians in the Twin Cities area an opportunity to be faithful in sharing the Gospel and engaging in meaningful spiritual conversations about who Jesus is and how he can be known.
“We’re in this thing together,” he said. “It’s about Jesus, and it’s about ‘How can we team up with each other to reach the Twin Cities for Christ?'”