Take a second to divide the things you do each week into one of two categories:
Serious/Necessary vs. Fun/Leisure
It’s not hard to categorize. Humans have to get stuff done- homework, taxes, weekly reports, chores, etc. Should you find joy in it? Yes. #superchristian Do you find joy in it? Every once in a while…maybe? Regardless…it’s gotta be done. What do you do with the other two weeks? If you’re smart, you go to Disney.
For myself, the phrase “fun at church” came from a quote in Letters to Malcom, by C.S. Lewis:
“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
Basically, one of the (fictional) characters in the book explains that heaven life is different than earth life. He uses the example that, in heaven, serious business would be the fun stuff. I chose Disney as an example for a reason. I get it, some people don’t like Disney. However, if you have ever been to Disney, you can’t deny that they are in the business of fun…and they are [obnoxiously] serious about it.
How different would your life be if you were required to provide 50 weeks of vacation for your family and 2 weeks of work/school? Heaven, right?
This concept resonated with me as a kidmin. Children’s ministry should feel more like Malcom’s description of heaven and less like…school. For adults, volunteering in children’s ministry should feel more like a night out with friends than [more] work. As a kidmin, I started getting serious about the things that brought joy to children: fun. I still did the same things that other children’s ministries did…I just focused first on asking myself new questions. Is [insert child’s name] going to enjoy this? Will they want to come back the next week? Will my programming win out over the competition of travel sports, extra dance lessons, a night at home playing games, sleeping in, and any other fun things kids/families want to do?
Here are some thoughts:
Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Let kids who don’t memorize well be equally rewarded for writing a scripture out ten times. Did they “memorize” it? No. Did they meditate on it? Yes.
Don’t be afraid to specialize. If you notice a child is not having fun during game time, let them do something different. It could be something as simple as a coloring sheet or something as complex as developing a new special needs ministry area.
Avoid activities that get kids in trouble. I’ve never seen a game of dodgeball go over without tears. Yes, it’s crazy fun, but there are five hundred other games just as fun…that are less likely to cause tears. Let them play dodgeball at school…where there are lots of rules and behavior charts.
Make exceptions the rule. If a parent comes to you with a concern for their child, work with them till you find a solution. If a third grader comes to VBS with their fourth grader bff, for goodness sake, let them be in the same class.
Not every event has to be a big outreach event or mission project. Not every Sunday school lesson has to be an in depth Bible study. It’s okay to come together just for fun…because it’s never only fun. Bringing joy to a person’s day/week is an extremely powerful thing…especially when you pair it with pointing them to Jesus.
Get methodical about presenting the Gospel. I spent my whole life in church thinking I had to talk people into the whole Jesus thing. Ugh. Soooo not my personality. Sadly, this worked fine for me in ministry for a long time. Then I had one of those boss/preachers who was suuuuper into the Great Commission, and suuuper against exclamation points and extra “uuuu’s”. He basically told me to get over it. I needed to hear it. You can read more about it here (!!!).
Now, I can’t talk about fun at church without talking about fun at home. My dad lives his life with this mentality: when you get off of school/work on Friday, vacation begins. He doesn’t want to go to Disney. He wants to go home. He put his time and energy into making home a place we loved to be. Maybe you can’t make every night about fun, but you could start with the weekends…then add a night or two. Eventually make room for a little bit of fun in your day…everyday. If you don’t know where to start, re-read the bold thoughts. Apply that to your home life, and see where it takes you.
Me? I’m thinking Disney should fall under the continuing ed category for kidmins. Go. Watch. Learn. Get serious about joy.