Should Church be Fun? image

Should Church be Fun?

When did you last laugh in church? Not the polite titter at the preacher’s strategically-placed joke, but a laugh of pure joy? When did you last drag yourself regretfully away after a meeting, thinking ‘that was a lot of fun’? Has anyone ever asked if they could come with you to church one week, because you seem to enjoy it so much?

Should they?

I’m asking because I was raving (again) this week about how much I’m loving my Ceroc class and tweeted “Ceroc may just be the most fun thing I’ve ever done in London. And that’s saying something.”

“Better than church?!” Matt Hosier replied.

Well…I’m not sure I’d say ‘better’, but when I was scanning my memory for fun things I’ve done in London, church certainly didn’t appear on the list. I love it, it’s meaningful, worthwhile, even enjoyable (most of the time), but fun…?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what church is – what is it for? Why do we go?

Part of the impetus for these ponderings has been a plethora of articles about how the church can be made more welcoming and a better experience for singles. That attitude, the consumerist expectation that church is there to meet your needs (and it’s not just singles who think this way, the same articles could be – and often have been – written about families, youth, the elderly, the disabled, men, businesspeople, nurses, clowns… (OK, perhaps I exaggerate)) is not one I think the early church would recognise. When we sing ‘We are here for You’, I’m not sure we should be wondering what ‘they’ (ie everyone else) are going to do for us.

My nascent answer has been informed in part by Andrew’s description of the local church as being like an embassy, a little outpost of your native country “where people with the same passports can regroup, speak their home language, be encouraged and equip one another as missionaries to the world around them”.

It has also been shaped by Matt’s sermon on Hebrews 10:24-25, the verses where we are told not to give up meeting together, but to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”. That’s what the writer of Hebrews thought should happen when believers met together, so shouldn’t it be the same today?

It’s where we meet to worship corporately, to share the breaking of bread, to hear God’s word and learn how to put it into practice, but I’ve never thought of whether or not it should be fun.

It should be a place of joy, I think. In God’s presence is fullness of joy, after all. To be fair, I have often come away from prayer meetings at my church bubbling over with joy, and I saw lots of joyful expressions in the church I visited last weekend – though mostly among those we’d designate as having ‘special needs’.

‘Fun’ though, still smacks slightly of irreverence, or the kind of youth meetings that attract all the kids, but are mystified when they can’t retain them through to adulthood. Is fun appropriate to a church service? Is it what we’re meant to be getting out of it – and what we’re meant to be putting into it?

Can we have fun without sacrificing faithfulness? Can we be characterised by joy without neglecting God’s justice? I’m wary of the impulse to create an appealing experience, as they seem so often to come at the expense of depth and truth.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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