Building a Theology of Fun in Youth Ministry
I have come to give life to the FULL…
He is saying that life is meant to be abundant, not normal, extraordinary, and beyond what we could even think or imagine.
For me, this is what FUN is meant to be - Jesus came to give life to the FULL.
Maybe that is why I have been in youth ministry for so long or I haven’t really grown up… but it is IMPORTANT to build a theology of fun in youth ministry because...
It doesn’t matter if you are young/old, home/public school, introverted/social, or guy/girl, everyone wants to have fun. Fun connects people with each other. This is important for adolescents. More than that, fun connects people to BELONG before they BEHAVE. Nothing else can connect people MORE than fun.
Fun builds memories
To this day, I have youth – who are now young adults – share their memories about youth ministry. I get messages, texts, emails about having “fun” together. Fun build memories of activity. But not only that, fun builds up faith and strengthens relationships. Those memories will last a lifetime - times of activity, building up faith, and strengthening relationships - through fun.
Teenagers need to have fun
I grew up in a small town where “fun” – activities or events – were hard to find. In fact, the place to “be” on the weekend was at 7/11 (it was in the centre of town where everyone would gather). To be honest, it became pretty boring pretty quick: “Hey guys, where do you want to go tonight?” Awkward pause, “lets hangout at sev…" "uhh... ok?"
Teens need to have a place to have fun OR they will try to find it somewhere else. Consequently, this can lead to some stupid (or dangerous) things. OR it can lead to you having the best place to have fun. In fact, a great place to have fun IS a great strategy towards evangelism.
Youth Ministries NEED to be the best place to have fun. If you do this: 1) your teenagers will be confident to invite their friends, and 2) they will grow to be confident in their faith.
Fun can be CLEAN
Teens need to experience CLEAN fun. This means to have fun without drugs + alcohol. For this to happen, it needs to be modelled.
At one time, 50% of our youth ministry were community students. These students were attending our programs who grew up in homes of parties, that included drugs + alcohol. Many of them came to Christ. In particular, one of these students at his baptism told the crowd how empty + boring the party culture was. He said, "the party scene showed me how empty I was. When I came to youth, I noticed how much fun I was having with being drunk or high. This is why I came to Christ - because He gave me something that my world could not offer!"
How awesome is that?!?
Fun is BASED on PURPOSE
This adds my final thought. Fun is MORE than activities (or lack of them), fun is about purpose. When Jesus stated that FULL life comes from Him, he is saying that life will NOT be fun without relationship with God. He brings color to a grey world, light into the darkness, joy in the midst of sadness, and purpose in the midst of confusion. This is the ULTIMATE experience of Fun... teenagers finding their purpose, understanding their purpose, and walking out in their purpose through Christ.
To build a theology of fun (that includes coaching, resourcing, and planning), please check out the intentional mentorship journey called #ANewMe with NGM. I would be honoured to help coach you through these 5 principles of FUN.
What are you thoughts?