Serious Fun

“If I were a candy cane, where would my eyes and mouth be?” Maybe that doesn’t sound like a serious problem to you, but it was for me one recent Saturday. I take outreach seriously and designing  a candy cane puppet is one small part of reaching out.

As Christians, we need to communicate some pretty serious stuff. Every person on earth has an evil heart that makes him want to do wrong. Jesus gave his life in our place to reconcile us to God.  We need to commit our entire lives in service and thankfulness to show God how much we love him. Serious stuff.

When unbelievers don’t see the importance of salvation we want to shake them and say, “Why don’t you get it?” When believers seem content to merely give God what is easy and left over we want to wring their neck and ask, “Where are your priorities?” But this approach doesn’t have a very high success rating.

We need to be serious about our Christianity, but we also need to be attractive. Why are people so resistant to the gospel today? Too many have seen people who called themselves Christians but have compromised their integrity. Other Christians have integrity oozing out their pores, but come across in a negative, unattractive way. Sometimes people use unattractive Christians or church people as an excuse to marginalize Christianity. To communicate Christ effectively, we often need to mix some joy with our passion. Serious fun.

Christmastime in our mission church in New Zealand usually finds us searching for serious fun. We would be quite happy to present the gospel with passion and seriousness to a church packed with unbelievers, but most unbelievers don’t rush to churches to hear the gospel. We need to work to break down the barriers of resistance that they have built over the years. Fun, food and humor can be used as a wrecking ball to break down barriers. So we have a puppet show with a talking angel, gold ball, light bulb, bell, candy cane, and star. That bit of silliness can point to spiritual truth.

We make our practice times fun. We invite parents to see their kids perform fun roles. We share the gospel with a smile. We let our joy shine on the outside while we pray with passion on the inside.

I had a reminder of the seriousness of fun several years ago. A work team from the States partnered with our church to help build an extension to our church. We had ordered windows that didn’t come on time and a number of problems surfaced. The team from the States only had a few weeks with us and I felt desperate to get as much work from them as we could. One day one of the ladies from the States, the wife of a pastor who had helped build many churches, said, “You’ve got to make it fun.” I realized she was right.

When work needs to be done around the church, I generally prefer to just drive over there and work like crazy until it’s done. But sometimes we accomplish more relationally when we plan a work day with lunch or cookies and a time of fellowship. Slowing down to make it fun achieves something that solid work can’t. I have to remind myself to “make it fun.”

What do you use to add joy to your ministry?

By the way, you can download my Christmas Tree Puppet Show for free, complete with directions for making the puppets.  How Lovely Are Your Branches is a longer program which includes the puppets with slight adaptations.