It occurred to me a few years ago that although I had grown up in church, church and fun generally didn’t go together. So we tried to make our experiences as a community of Jesus followers more fun. Then we met some friends a few years ago who made us look boring. North Point, Connexus’ big-daddy church affiliate, and our good friends at Orange, know how to have fun. They notched it up a level or two.
Last night my kids and I sat down to watch I Survived a Japanese Game Show, a really kitch show about ten Americans who end up on a zany Japanese Game show. It was just funny at every level, and it made me think again about how church people rarely think outside the box. Not that we’re going for crazy stunts, but our God is way more creative and imaginative than most of his followers are.
As I was writing this post, I just got off the phone with a woman I haven’t met who attends our Orillia Campus. She brought her boyfriend for the first time two weeks ago. He hadn’t been to church for years, and his comment was "this isn’t like any church I’ve ever been at before, period." For him that was a good thing. One of the things he had was "fun". The service engaged him and didn’t have any boring religious mumbo jumbo. It bothers me that so many unchurched people write off church because, among other things, we’re just boring.
As you think about making fun, shock, surprise and delight as words that might one day describe some of your church experiences, here’s why I’m committed to becoming more creative as time goes on:
- Humour disarms people. If people laugh, their defenses go down and they are far more ready to hear a hard truth.
- Fun helps makes environments irresistible. It makes people want to come back. Truthfully, most non-church attenders never want to go back to a church they’ve just visited.
- Fun should be appropriate, and ideally it should make a point. Best yet is when it accentuates the key point in your message.
- Fun, humour, shock and surprise makes things memorable. A couple weeks ago during our God and Sex series, we handed out gourmet chocolate bars with a cryptic message on them, encouraging people to wait and not open them. Naturally, by the time we explained what we were doing, many had opened it and chowed down all or part of their bars. The message was on waiting with sex for marriage, and then we revealed that everyone who didn’t open their chocolate bars would be given another one on the way out – similar to the way sex is more of a blessing if people wait for marriage. I poked gentle fun at people who had opened their chocolate bar and been "caught." It was a cool and funny moment, and I think it helped people remember the "wait" message well! Then, as an act of grace, we gave everyone an extra chocolate bar as they left.
The last thing I want church to be is boring. Because God, actually, is not boring. Not in the least.
How comfortable are you with ‘fun’ in church? What are other things things has humour and fun helped you accomplish in church?