Fun in Church?
My legs hurt. Why did I have to wear these horrible but beautiful shoes to church?
How did I forget the numerous ‘standings’ and ‘sittings’ and ‘dancings’?.
God have mercy. Obviously you can tell I haven’t visited ‘church’ in a while. Judge me not.
Okay. It’s Sunday and I’m in church.
It’s a Pentecostal church. Very far removed from the Anglican one I grew up in. So far so good, it’s been roller coaster of fun activities. Not sober like my former church. Oh, I have visited several orthodox churches and tried to fit but I am apprehensive about the church going experience and it gets worse the more I try to fit in. It is strange how boring it is to sit, stand, sing and pray for an hour and a half with a group of people who never smile. But this feels different. Sermon is most entertaining. Imagine. I can’t believe I just said that. ENTERTAINING. The Reverend used a bottle of coke and water to explain Faith. Cool stuff. And the best part was the announcement: popcorn and drinks will be served after service *big smile*
I don’t notice that I have stopped dancing during the praise session. I’m lost in thought for a while. I mean, it unusual for people to allow themselves have fun in church. But the people around me were clearly enjoying themselves and loving what they were doing. Looking back at my years in the Anglican Church, I think it is good we are tearing down our barriers, abandoning church propriety and simply allowing ourselves to enjoy worshipping God. It feels good. I smile as I remember our Anglican Vicar solemnly say ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ when he speaks about the holiness of God. And I think of how, perhaps if those three people would witness when people do this, say something like, “do they realise that we were real, flawed, goofy people too?”
For most churches, personality and pleasure are so denigrated that the idea of allowing oneself to have fun in church or even outside it is beyond comprehension. But if we can’t enjoy God’s diverse creation and express our true selves when we gather as a body of Christ, where can we?
Don’t get me wrong, structured church or teaching or liturgy or hymns should not be thrown out, but we should allow God to be bigger than all those things. Better still, let’s allow for balance…Solemnity and Joy. It is a sin to make church boring. The reason why unbelievers are not attracted to church is much the same as why most people are not attracted to attend brain-surgery conferences.
To win the lost Christians must meet them at their level. Unsaved children do not understand theology, but they do understand jokes, sweets, food, games, crafts, videos and so on. Unsaved adults are much the same. They understand music, fun, puppets, pictures, songs, dances and other creative and entertaining things.
There are some Christians who feel that ‘church’ should not be entertaining. To these well-meaning saints I suggest that they gather other like-minded people about them and have their own services the way they want them, but please don’t invite me. I think they are partly correct, but their view probably comes from their desire to preserve the sober, serious side of Christianity intact. (This is a good motivation but how will the unsaved be reached if Christians form ‘holy huddles’?) They may fear that if Christians laugh too much they may slide into worldliness and forget to follow Jesus. I doubt it. God created laughter and gave it to Mankind as a gift. Perhaps it is time for the Church to take back the gift and use it the right way?
To grow a church we have to put the unsaved first, and all our theology has to come second. We have to meet the unsaved at their level before we can pull them up to ours. Jesus demonstrated this by walking the streets and eating with publicans and sinners. He didn’t try to lure people into the synagogues because all that would have done was produce synagogue-attendees. In the same way, it is far better for people to become Christians and never attend ‘church’ than for them to regularly attend ‘church’ and never become Christians.
I am having fun in church today (despite my uncomfortable heels). I can at least start embracing and celebrating the holiness of how God created me to experience and enjoy pleasure.
I resume dancing.