Are We Having Fun Yet?

Originally published in March 1994

Try to imagine yourself as normal teenager.Normal would mean no out of the ordinary stressors, some knowledge of God, and lots of normal worries such as friends, boy and girl stuff, homework and zits.You are home for the evening with your parent(s).All in normal, maybe boring. Homework is done, the TV is on.Then knock, knock, knock.You go to your door and what do you see?It’s people dressed in garbage bags complete with capes and darks sunglasses.Who are they?But before you can find out they have picked you up and kidnapped you to a Bible study.You found out later that your parents knew this was going on and that’s why they didn’t panic or come to your rescue.

 Somewhere along the way, you and the other kidnappees have figured out who “they” are.They are some of your friends from school who have been praying for you.This kidnapping was a way for them to creatively express their desire for you to know the Creator.

This actually happened in one of my youth groups back in the mid-1980s.We had the greatest time secretly arranging the kidnaps, dressing up in garbage bags and doing the actual kidnappings.The youth who were kidnapped remembered that evening fondly.They especially remembered the love they felt knowing how much trouble we went through.What a blast it was for all.

Such a happy memory from years past, from when I was younger and not burdened with so much responsibility.

A short time ago I heard a message preached about fun and how we have lost our means of creativity.Satan has been destroying our creative spirits which were given to us by the ultimate Creator.We as Christians should be having the most fun because we are the most freed to be creative.Yet we slip back too often into what we know or what we’ve done.Or worse yet, we have turned to outside sources to have fun—another video, another dinner…

I came to the painful realization that I was not fun anymore.This is because I have to now do this and deal with that.This has to be done now and I can’t do that, it wouldn’t be appropriate.All these unnamed things that come upon us as we mature and as the pressure of ministry mounts has zapped the fun right out of me.

I did have fun once in a while but only when it was planned.Even on the retreats I spoke at the fun (and it was fun) I would have would have to be scheduled in.The freetime I had available was for doing this and that.I can’t remember when I last spontaneously jumped into a basketball game.Of course, there would be great humor in that because of my lack of basketball skills.But I was too busy.

New year, new commitment—I’m on the lookout to have fun.This will take some work though.For me I will have to schedule this in which doesn’t sound too creative.However, I am the type who has fun scheduling my life.It frees me.

It’s easy to be in those busy habits and it takes some brain tuning to be creative.It’s easy to throw another lock-in.It will be harder, yet rewarding all around, to put all kinds of creative learning and fun into it.

We, youth workers, feel we can’t compete with MTV and the likes because of the lack of money.We can’t.But we have the Holy Spirit and the imagination of the Creator to do stuff that is so contrary to MTV that it becomes real fun and creates real memories.It is internal fun versus external fun.There is a difference—one builds character for a lifetime and the other tears character down.We need to take the extra time to allow the Holy Spirit to make us creative.

I lost a bet recently to one of the teens.I smugly thought the Minnesota Vikings would take their division.(The Wild Card is not bad though.)Instead of the normal you-buy-McDonald’s bet, I had to wear his Redskin sweatshirt and hat to youth group for three weeks.I truly hate the Redskins so such attire was shocking and provided much humor for the entire youth group for those three weeks. I mean everyone noticed!Randy was particularly tickled because he was the one to get me into such attire.Randy’s one of those fringe kids but he did something no one else could do which won him some respect and popularity.A meal at McDonald’s wouldn’t have brought around so much joy.

What can I do next?