About Lent Madness

Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Tim came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”

The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

The major change from 2010 to 2011 was the introduction of four “celebrity bloggers” to champion particular saints through the Final Four. Meredith Gould, Scott Gunn, Penny Nash, and Neil Alan Willard dove into the spirit of Lent Madness with abandon adding even more intrigue to the proceedings.

Tim and Scott discussing the relative merits and saintliness of Athanasius vs. Florence Nightingale

In 2012 we partnered with Forward Movement and Executive Director Scott Gunn to create our own website and broaden the number of people involved in the selection and writing process. And it worked! 50,000 people visited the Lent Madness last year and it really took off with articles about it in such august publications as the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated (seriously).

As Lent Madness continues to grow and evolve, what won’t change is the essence of Lent Madness: allowing people to get to know some amazing people who have come before us in the faith and reminding one another that there’s no reason for a dreary Lenten discipline. If this helps people connect with the risen Christ during this season of penitence and renewal, and have a bit of fun in the process, then it continues to be worthwhile.

We hope you’ll participate fully this Lent and vote with reckless abandon! (Once — this isn’t Chicago).

22 Comments to "About Lent Madness"

  1. February 7, 2012 - 2:38 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like a lot of fun and educational too. I definitely will be participating.

  2. February 7, 2012 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Excellent, Emily! This will make your Lenten experience the best ever.

  3. February 8, 2012 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    Dear Tim+, I’m wondering if you and Scott can put together a post about how a parish might go about running a Lent Madness tournament among its members. I know there are different ways of scoring brackets, but I’m clueless about the pros and cons. Any advice?

    Your brother in Christ,

  4. February 8, 2012 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Good thought, Chris. I assume the goal is to fix it so that the rector automatically wins some sort of cash prize? I’ll post something on this topic when I have a chance.

  5. February 8, 2012 - 10:20 am | Permalink

    Naturally. I’ve just been doing some research, and I think I’m going to use a fibonacci series scoring system here. We’ve got 5 rounds, and so the points per round will be 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. It strikes a balance between early and late rounds. In this system, the total points will be 105. The maximum number of points in each round is 32, 24, 20, 16, and 13. I think what I might do is set a $2 buy-in, and the winner decides to which of our diocesan ministries the total amount is awarded, and they’ll get a t-shirt.

  6. February 8, 2012 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    This is what I’m sending around to the parish here: http://www.saintmarysmiddlesboro.org/1/post/2012/02/lent-madness-2012.html (note that the prize will be a Forward Publications book. How’s that for recursion?)

  7. February 8, 2012 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Chris, it looks like you’re turning this into some sort of pyramid scheme. But I like it and I think I’ll share your approach with others (with approriate attribution, of course). Thanks for giving this some serious thought!

  8. Amy Greeson's Gravatar Amy Greeson
    February 15, 2012 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon, I am really looking forward to this. I am a co-teacher of Catechesis of the Good Shephard for the youth in our church and our focus this year is the Episcopal Saints. Thank you so much for starting a fun educational way to learn about them.

  9. February 15, 2012 - 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Amy, I’m delighted you’ll be able to use Lent Madness as a teaching tool!

  10. Kate Hansen's Gravatar Kate Hansen
    February 22, 2012 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Our Bible Study Group in Elk River MN was introduced to Lent Madness last night by Father Rob. As of 11:00 this morning the website address has been forwarded to thousands!! OK – a couple of dozen. Loaves and fishes. Thank you!

  11. February 22, 2012 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Delighted to hear this, Kate. Father Rob sounds like a very wise priest. Keep up the great evangelism and say hello to all the elk for us!

  12. Trish's Gravatar Trish
    February 22, 2012 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Where on your website do I find information about the saints?

  13. Alan Bobowski's Gravatar Alan Bobowski
    February 28, 2012 - 4:20 pm | Permalink

    How about a tag-team match up? Cyril and Methodius vs Vladimir and Olga?

  14. Kate Hansen's Gravatar Kate Hansen
    February 28, 2012 - 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi Tim and Scott – do you ever sleep?

  15. March 13, 2012 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Great idea to provide an alternative to that other tournament in March and to focus on the “Heroes of the Faith.” I especially appreciate you including St. Joan of Arc. It is my mission to teach her True History so I always appreicate any help in getting people interested in learning more about her. I have already discussed Lent Madness on the facebook page I maintain for her:
    I will also post a blog entry about Lent Madness and Joan’s matchup against Mary Magdalene on thursday at http://saint-joan-of-arc.blogspot.com/
    If I can help you with any information about St. Joan please do not hesistate to contact me.

  16. Andy Johnson's Gravatar Andy Johnson
    March 20, 2012 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    What a dilemma!! Here I am, a deacon from the Diocese of Rochester (NY) visiting in the Diocese of Rochester (UK); tomorrow will be the observance day for Thomas Cranmer here and I will be attending a service at Lullingstone Castle, apparently one of Cranmer’s earlier haunts. Mt heart says Columba and Nessie (but that’s another story) while where I am says Cranmer. I’m going to need all day on this one. If only this confrontation had come one day later, I would have had to go with Cranmer on his day.

    Really enjoying Lent Madness – in another life, I was a high school and college basketball referee so March Madness was already pretty much ingrained. This is fun to do and fun to get people doing!

    Incidentally, the church on the grounds at Lullingstone is St. Botolph’s; a possible candidate for a future Lent Madness? For those of you in Massachusetts, Botolph was responsible for the name of your largest city.

  17. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    March 23, 2012 - 1:12 am | Permalink

    “kay guys, as we get down to it, could we have a review of the rules? Is there a Lent Madness Commandments window? I’m trying to invite folks in but some think they had to be in from the start (I wasn’t!), aren’t sure how to join, etc.
    Rule 1 seems to be “The DOOR is OPEN!! Come on in!!” and judging by earlier unpleasantness Rule 2 would be “Vote ONCE in each match-up”…there’s also “Have fun”… As we head into some highly contested brackets what are our parameters eg do the polls close at midnight EST or what? ie is there a time after which door-knocking neighbours and accosting strangers on the street to vote will no longer do any good? Hm? Hm? (excitement building…)

    Jennifer S.

  18. If Not Philander Then Margaret's Gravatar If Not Philander Then Margaret
    March 24, 2012 - 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Any chance of a Lent Madness Awareness Recognition Moment at General Convention this summer?

  19. Harry W's Gravatar Harry W
    April 24, 2012 - 7:17 am | Permalink

    On 4/20/2012 at 12:48, I mistyped my request that said: “Please consider Peter Ronald Bentley Henery (1911-1999) A Christian man who lived his faith, a Christian enabler.” The named person should be: Peter Ronald Bentley Hemery (1911-1999). Thank you.