I was participating in a discussion about ministry and thought it would make an excellent post here.
Over the course of the last ten years, all of which I have been involved in ministry in some shape or fashion, I have heard more times than I care to count that us new young ministers think all youth group is about is fun. I have been accused or heard others accused of not giving our students any “good Bible teaching”. But I think we have to readdress what the motivation and what the definition of fun really is.
If you ask me if I want our youth group to be fun I will immediately say YES!!! I remember growing up in a traditional Southern Baptist Church where our youth met three times a week not counting special events that we had monthly. In the regular scheduled meetings we would come in and be told to be quiet, we would take some prayer requests and then have a lesson and pray and leave. Sometimes we would have a lesson outline to fill in and sometimes the teacher would ask us a simple question that either was very elementary or was just a yes/ no answer. I would endure the time so we could go out and play basketball or volleyball or whatever but sat through the lessons quite bored. I had no fun. However my senior year in high school I moved to a different church. Youth group was still three times a week but our teachers approached it completely differently. Time was spent getting us to express ourselves in worship, getting us up out of the chairs and engaging with other students. We would leave our assigned room and take off across the campus to play a game or for an object lesson. We were constantly asking questions and being asked to think about what we said we believed in. There were many many times when we would go far over our alloted time and when we got done many of us would hang out and talk and laugh and even cry. This was what it was all about. This was FUN!!!!
Many people throw the word fun around with a negative connotation but it shouldn’t be. I have fund doing lots of things, in particular I have fun doing my job. Fun, to me, is a word that captures the feelings I get from participating in something that I enjoy, find satisfaction in and feel fulfilled by. If I am captivated by doing something to the point I do not want to leave because I do not want it to end I call that having fun. However if I am doing something and I cannot wait to be done I call that the absence of fun.
Many people see church as a burden as a exercise in boredom they see nothing that captivates them. Some believe if we are enjoying ourselves to much at church God will not be pleased. How do they reconcile Paul’s words in Thessalonians, “Rejoice evermore”. It is because of this paradigm that many people have left their church or left church altogether. As church leaders we must find ways to connect people with the God of peace and joy. The God who excites and is, dare I say it…….fun
I am sad to report that one of the reasons our Brethren church “split” was over the concept of new and “fun” things which were being promoted for our youth. In the early years of this church, it had become a “Haven for Saints” rather than a “Hospital for Sinners.” We had a number of what I call “Wounded Rabbits” appear on our doorstep and they were welcomed with open arms by the new pastor. This infuriated the older congregants who went there fundamentally as a social club.
All of this is to say that I think we, as Americans, fail to see the deeper things of Christ. We “Americanize” the Gospel that Jesus taught. Truly if he appeared on our doorstep we might be wont to recognize him. In John 10:10 He spoke to us about having life to the full.
[And some of my Baptist, Brethren, and Pentecostal Holiness brothers and sisters will tear me up for this one:] But Jesus’ first miracle was to change water into wine to keep the party going. They were indeed having fun.
Why do we miss that our children should be taught that God wants us to be the best we can be and all we can be for His glory and will and purposes in this life? Jesus met people where they were and taught and loved them just as they lived their lives. Even Zaccheus, up a tree!
Being a Christian is not for wimps and is not a “sugar coated” Gospel and social club. It is meeting the folks in the trenches, where they live, telling them the truth, in love, and wanting the best for them. What Jesus did for you, and me, and them is love beyond measure. This is a concept not taught in our homes, schools, and must be shown, heart to heart.
I’ll remember you and your folks in my prayers. Keep on keeping on!