In Defense of Fun

I often reminisce about my days in youth ministry (nearly 5,000 such days, given that I served in that role for more than 13 years). The torch has been passed to Chad, who is doing great things as God works in and through him. But I still remember so many days that were painfully challenging and difficult, yet also marked by the most fun I’ve ever had in ministry, or in any job for that matter.
There have always been those who look down on the fun element of youth group meetings, activities, and events. I even heard one longtime member of a sister church say something like this: “The youth rallies are just for fun now. There was a time when rallies were judged by their biblical teaching; now, they’re just for fun.” I could not have disagreed more. The rallies were certainly fun, but they were not just fun. The events in which our students participated were indeed a blast; however, they were also filled with powerful praise and worship music, convicting messages from God’s Word, and deep, meaningful conversations that eventually led to new souls entering the kingdom. New lives were kick-started in a way that’s rarely seen among adult church members and visitors.
Here’s the deal: effective youth ministry uses fun to open up hearts to relationships, but it also demonstrates love in sharing the good news of the gospel. Having fun helps students to invite and bring their friends to various activities and events. Then, smiles and laughter abound, newfound friendships are built, and open hearts lead to life-changing, eternity-altering decisions. I would go so far as to say that fun is an effective tool for ministry. As Glenn Procopio writes, “The power of fun is that it disarms people of their verbal weapons and their destructive attitudes. Words can’t do in a year what laughter can do in a few minutes.” So, go ahead and have some fun. You might never be the same.
Troy Burns