This was one of our most fun events. It would be impossible to miss us. Our parade of brightly colored adolescents was glowing under the fluorescent lights of the old Minneapolis Metrodome. We’d lined up for “Rollerdome,” a regular event where they open the former home of the Minnesota Vikings for rollerblading. The smooth cement floors of the concourse made for a great track, offering infinite laps of wheeled fun.
Our youth event was called “Neon Night” and was the culmination of a month-long series about being a bright light in the lives of others. We’d asked the students to dress in the brightest neon outfit they could put together, the result was the brightest group of people in the gray corridors of the stadium.
While waiting in line to pay for the group, I could sense the woman behind me eyeing my giant neon green afro and neon pink pinstriped pants. After giving her some time to soak it all in I turned and said, “good evening.”
“Are you in charge of the glowing group of kids over there?” she asked.
“I certainly am,” I said, “they’re a good looking bunch, aren’t they?”
“What are you, like a theater group or something?” she inquired, trying to piece together the puzzle. “No, I’m a pastor and this is the youth group from our church.”
The woman gave me an incredulous glance and retorted, “You don’t look like a pastor.”
She had me there.
“So you’re a Christian group?” she asked
“You can’t be a Christian group,” she replied matter-of-factly, “you’re having too much fun.”
I laughed uncomfortably. Before I could reply it was my turn with the cashier, and we went our separate ways.
We had a lot of fun that night, but the woman’s comment stuck with me. She was convinced that Christianity and fun could not mix. I wish I knew her story, and perhaps I already do. Perhaps she’s known too many church-going folk burdened by the demands of holiness and unable to experience the joy Jesus invites us into. Or perhaps she’s seen the hateful things some people do in the name of God, and sees them as venemous rather than jovial. Or perhaps she grew up in a church that believed somberness was next to godliness, and had that particular fruit of the Spirit snuffed out early on.
Is Youth Group Supposed To Be Fun?
A few years back I received a phone call, it was one of my parents’ good friends. I answered and the first question from her lips was, “Is youth group supposed to be fun?” Their church had just hired a new youth pastor, one that believed if you were enjoying your time you weren’t really learning about Jesus. That doesn’t sound like “life more abundant” to me, and it certainly doesn’t seem like “good news.”
We have fun in our church. Not as entertainment, but as a way to experience a very true part of who God is. Jesus was accused of being a party animal. I think he was just having fun and the uptight religious folks trying to suffer their way into the kingdom weren’t sure what to do with it.
Somewhere along the line there came an idea that following Jesus can’t be fun. I think it was about the time we decided the cross should be our focus and not the empty tomb. It is very true that a life spent for Jesus will involve incredible heartache and difficulty. It is true that fun, in and of itself, is a trivial goal. It is also true that saying yes to Jesus means saying yes to lots of unpleasant hardship.
But, hardship and fun can coexist.
Nothing else comes close to producing the inexplicable joy of a God-life. There is no greater avenue toward adventure or rich stories. There is nothing that will bring about the kind of peace, and life-transformation, and rescue, and redemptive outpouring that a life given to Christ brings. And that sounds… fun!
Part of the full Life we are invited into involves fun. Following Jesus is FUN! It’s hard work, but satisfying. It’s difficult, but also allows us to have joy in the most challenging times. Fun should not be reduced to something so trivial as an entertaining distraction.
Fun is an essential spiritual practice. It is good for the soul. The book of Proverbs says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” and warns, “a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Happy people are healthy people.God is the perfection of all good things, and that includes fun.Click To Tweet
When we follow God’s calling together, that’s fun. When we get creative with how to convey biblical truths, that’s fun! When we gather with people under the banner of freedom in Christ, that is fun!
Dressing up in bright neon clothes and heading downtown might seem trivial or pointless on the surface. When it is intentional, though, it becomes a reminder that we need to be bright in the world. His joy is our strength, and it is also quite perhaps the brightest quality he has. When we share that joy, we share in the fun that God has created us for.
We are the body of Christ, and that body needs to shake it’s badonkadonk once in awhile.'The body of Christ needs to shake it's badonkadonk once in a while'Click To Tweet