Does God care if “church” is fun?

A group of Little Dribblers convened in my hotel room with Caleb this morning.  Having traveled seven hours from home for a basketball tournament, one child audibly realized he’d miss church tonight.

I settled his concerns.

We can have church here.  I’ll come up with something.

One quick-thinking boy interjected with a plea, hoping to divert my good intentions.

No, Mrs. Cristal!

This is supposed to be a fun trip.

Eyes widened wondering how Mrs. Cristal would respond.  Honestly, though, I had no reply.

Pinwheel by PuddlesMcgee via flickr

I began to wonder.  And the children quickly left the room for a more pleasant engagement.

Should church (in reference to congregating with other believers) have to be fun?

Should believers expect to be aroused, enticed or intrigued?

I don’t recall church being entertaining when growing up.  But, I do remember a meaningful relationship with God.

And, as an adult, I can’t say I’d describe church as a time of amusement.  But, I can attest that I  am consistently encouraged, edified and equipped.

Then, there’s life.  Living as a follower of Christ has not been a gut-busting comedy (unless you’re an outsider watching me).  But, it’s definitely an adventure I’d never want to miss.

I know church can be exciting.

But, should we expect and even demand a pleasurable tickle?

Pinwheel for Prevention by slambo_42 via flickr

John Piper shared his opinion on this topic.

Today we carry in our pockets radio, television, internet, and games, and anything that would be titillating, fun!

And “fun” is a word in the church today that’s just rampant! It’s an adjective, it’s a noun, it’s a verb, because we do ministry in order to fit this mentality.

I’m deeply concerned about that.

I want to stand for seriousness about God, instead of making Him palatable by making Him “fun”!

Turning Him into another piece of entertainment.

Making God enjoyable.  Appetizing.  Cool.

By making Him fun.

Turning our Lord into another piece of entertainment.

Pinwheels for Prevention by Wade from Oklahoma via flickr

Is that what we’re doing to make God appealing?

A lure to get people hooked?

As if God needs us to give Him a makeover.

An update of sorts so He’s not old-fashioned.  Spruce Him up a bit so He’s in style.

You know, more contemporary to fit in with today’s trends.

And this is coming from a Sunday school teacher who seeks to create an enjoyable (and yes, even fun) environment for her pre-teens each week.

When these children reach adulthood, will they still be expecting the spiritual entertainment?

Has Mrs. Cristal shown them the One True God?  Or a captivating lie?

{I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.}

24 thoughts on “Does God care if “church” is fun?”

  1. Much to think about.

    The first thing I thought is that it is sad that the child’s first reaction to the suggestion of church is that it wouldn’t be fun. Some churches are boring, dull, lifeless. That is sad, too. Our kids really enjoy going to church and wouldn’t classify it as “not fun”, yet it isn’t “over the top”, either. I wish others felt that way about church. Our kids look forward to going.

    On the other hand, some churches try way too hard to make every Sunday some sort of Broadway production. It becomes a spectacle and totally takes the attention off the Lord.

    There must be a happy medium… fun yet respectful? The line would be crossed when the focus is no longer on God.

    I remember Ryan’s mentor saying he feared that we are entertaining ourselves to death in this culture. We’re trading real experiences for fake ones (obsessive video games, movies, etc). It’s definitely something to watch out for in our personal lives, but also in our churches.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for giving me something to think about!

    1. I agree, Carrie. I have a friend who reminds me often there must be “balance” — the part where we don’t cross the line and remove the focus and purpose from God. I love what Ryan’s mentor mentioned (entertaining ourselves to death). I get caught up in forgetting that worship is not really for me — it’s actually for God.

  2. You raise interesting thoughts and questions. Should we try to make God fun? My first thought is that our worship of and relationship with our Lord should never be dull or dreary or tedious. Whether that makes Him “fun” or not I can’t say. Perhaps the idea that we can improve upon God by “making” him fun or entertaining or anything else is the influence of a consumeristic culture always looking for a better way to package a product. Personally, I think that a congregation or a Sunday school classroom or a family engaged in worship and genuinely enjoying the presence of their God is very appealing. Maybe even fun. But not because “fun” is the purpose, the plan or the goal; it is simply the result of enjoying God. Um…You should know that my idea of “fun” is sitting around until all hours of the morning having deep philosophical or theological discussions with family members or friends or writing/reading/commenting on blogs, so maybe I’m not the best person to consult on this topic:) In my defense, however, I also like a good laugh, goofy moments with old friends, parties, bike rides, comedies, hikes and vacations. Those are fun too!

    1. Judy, we all have our own definitions of fun, don’t we!?! I appreciate your insight and agree. I like the way you summed this up: not because “fun” is the purpose, plan or goal…it’s the result! I also believe our time spent with God should not be tedious (like checking a to-do off a list). And, like you, I find that our mindset of consumerism too often bleeds into the church. I’m always enlightened by your comments. Thank you for faithfully opening my eyes (here and on your blog).

  3. Let me see…

    I remember hearing a sermon once by a pastor with Parkinson’s disease. He was like a statue,
    monotonous in his tone… understandibly it put 99% of the congregation to sleep. For some reason I caught every word and it was sublime.
    I’ve heard and seen Pentecostal pastors shouting and waving their arms… putting me to sleep.
    I’ve been amazed and entertained by professional level music at other services, but it did little to move my spirit.
    Yesterday, I stopped by the church with my son Lucas to say a short prayer. After a while I asked him if he wanted to go get ice cream. He said, “In a little bit. Let’s wait a little bit more.”

    The Spirit moves in mysterious ways… when we enter into His presence with trust and humility then we will receive something special. When we let Him do the planning it turns out right.

    1. Perfect explanation, Vince! You should share your experience over on your own blog (where I love to visit). When our intentions are purely to seek God by allowing His Spirit to move in us, the product will be beyond our imaginations (maybe even “fun”)! Thank you, as always, for drawing us closer to Truth with your comments.

  4. I’m with Vince here. I keep waiting in our church for the spirit to move. We have 3 services and by 11Am you would think people would be awake. As I am enjoying the worship team with their upbeat renditions and singing (even though I can’t carry a tune) along with the wide array of instruments, there are times I feel the Holy Spirit is standing at the door wanting an invitation. Then I sense he leaves because everyone is still asleep.

    1. I can understand exactly what you’re describing. Regardless of the music or any production, there is an invitation to worship. An invitation to meet with God and be in His presence. I often find that my time with Him during the week directly influences my personal worship during a congregational gathering. So, the “fun” is internal and a result of my offering myself to Him fully. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to share your heart with us!

  5. If you ask me I see way to much of the church trying to be like the world and bringing it’s views into the church..That is not what Jesus meant when He said upon this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…

    We are to be the church and not try to make the Trintiy into mans form and mans views. God is not pleased and those who do this will be judged….I say pray for their souls that God will show Mercy because just like the city of sodom and gomorrah we saw what happen to them it very well could happen to us.

    1. You definitely tell it like it is, Desiray! 🙂

      And I catch your drift — we are not of this world and not to be conformed to this world, yet we will plan programs in attempts to tickle the fancy of the world.

  6. My church, for a while, seemed to concentrate on making the whole experience a fun time, calling it seeker sensitive, growing pretty fast in attendance. God took care of that….many people left after a while…for a MORE fun church! Now we have another pastor who definitely speaks God’s words. It’s wonderful. We still DO have lots of fun with each other & our pastor is funny, too. God does have a sense of humor. But we “make the main thing the main thing.” By the way, I love your name. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you stopped by, Chrystal! Nice to meet you and can’t wait to check out your blog. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I appreciate your focus, too (making the main thing the main thing)! Love your name, too — Cristals/Chrystals gotta stick together!

  7. This is a very thought-provoking post – gives a lot to think about. Here in Hungary there are some churches where this entertainment-centered attitude is a problem, especially among the young people. As for me I completely agree with what Judy wrote in response. And I have just read another blog-post dealing with the same problem, if you are interested, this is the link:
    But this is an issue that definitely needs to be addressed. Thank you for doing so. Blessings to you.

    1. Thank you so very much for that link. I am eager to read what was written there. I also have seen much that’s entertainment-driven work its way into the churches. I am thankful my pastor has balance in that department and seeks God not numbers. 🙂

  8. I have to say…I think God IS fun!
    Not in the contemporary way, as you said, “Spruce Him up a bit so He’s in style.” (!?) But as our Lord, I think He is funny, He has a sense of humor and leads us into adventure. (As you said.)
    So in that way, I really think God is a lot of FUN! He is NOT boring, that’s for sure. I want to make sure my daughter (and all others that follow) is not deceived into thinking He’s boring.

    I’m not sure what would make a church “fun.” To me it’s fun if it’s full of life, love, support, friendships, JOY. 🙂 And when His presence shows up, boy, THAT is so much fun!!

    1. I am glad you stopped by to offer us the perspective of joy. And you are right, there is fullness of life when living in Christ! I tell my boys they will miss out on an adventure of a lifetime if they choose to follow anyone or anything besides God!

  9. Wonderful post! I think that the focus on “fun” can be blinding ecspecially since we are in an entertainment culture, everything is about entertainment. Some unfortuantely have given in to fun instead of offering what the Church specializes in, which topples just “fun” anytime, its the joy of the Lord, that is our strenght! People truly can laugh, and have no joy. On the other hand, because the joy of the Lord is our strength we bring with us, love, peace and a deep rooted happiness, that makes everything better, every subject lighter, every event brighter. The fun that seeks to merely entertain, can leave many not deeply satisfied, and still longing, while laughing!

    1. What a reminder that JOY is so different from temporal “fun” and to be sought after as in pursuing a prize. Thankfully, it’s His joy (and not something I have to muster up) that brings us strength. I am so thankful you stopped by to offer to us that word of encouragement!

  10. For the Christian, whose desire is for communion with Christ and other Christians, church is an absolute pleasure, joy and even fun, if the services are Christ centered.

    But for those who have not come to a saving knowledge of Christ, we cannot expect them to find joy and comfort in the church. Until they become a part of God’s family, it is like they are meeting with a family they cannot really understand or share much in common.

    What about sincere Christians who are desiring to worship but attend a church where Christ is ignored and the truth is not proclaimed? You have the same mess again… no joy or happiness, it is just no fun.

    I guess my point is this… a church meeting can be a wonderful joyous, fun time or a boring ordeal. It all depends on the relationship that Christ has with the church and the attendees.

    May the Lord bless you.!

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment, Rob. I am glad you stopped by to offer your thoughts. I agree the relationship one has with Christ is the factor determining what is found in church. Have a blessed day!

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