A lot of my thought life is taken up with the family of God, specifically the local church. As a pastor’s wife, it’s kind of my job. We make a big deal about one-on-one discipleship, small groups, Bible studies, Sunday morning services… but we don’t really talk as much about just hanging out with each other, getting to know the side of someone that only comes out during a good game of Scrabble or bowling or softball. As crucial as the serious stuff is, the “just for fun” category is equally important for building up the health of the church.
I’ll admit: the serious stuff is my jam due to a mix of personality and role. Most requests for my time revolve around asking for help—relational help, spiritual help, personal help, ministry help. Which is cool because I love helping. I could sit across from a woman seeking counsel all afternoon if the beverage is right, but I get super awkward when thrust into situations that require play. Clear-cut objectives I can do; the ambiguity of a come-and-go hangout makes my knees knock. This tendency toward the serious is effective for ministry but hard on the heart: it turns church people into responsibilities instead of real, deep-down pleasures. The Lord reminds me that family isn’t just a bunch of check boxes to take care of—family is late nights, long meals, swimsuit season, fireside chats. Family doesn’t need me to control but to engage.
Jesus never seems to have a problem with this concept, and of everyone, He has the most right to. He was on a mission to save the world, after all. But you don’t see Him rushing through the relationship-building parts like, “Just get Me to the good stuff already! I have 73 people to heal here before moving on to the next place where I have to talk to so-and-so about getting a thing done, and then there’s that demon-possessed guy I have an appointment with at 8:00. How much longer is this lunch gonna take?!” Nope. He looks like He actually enjoys the people He’s with.
What if we (I) slowed down the insane need to look busy/important and just soaked up the moment? If presence replaced productivity as the day’s top priority? If we (I) scheduled time for fun with the brothers and sisters God has put here for a reason?
A few ideas to get our (my) wheels turning:
- host a board game night
- show a movie and let everyone bring snacks
- invite a new family out for a scenic walk
- show up more often when others initiate
- get some families together for a campout
- do something seasonal with a couple of friends
- make crafts with your small group
- break out the bikes with a young family or two
- have a fire pit evening
- try a new class together
The main thing is to figure out the typical excuses and work around them. “I don’t want them judging the dust bunnies under the couch!” Cool—invite someone out on the town. “I’m so tired when I get home from work!” How about a breakfast club? “They all sound so smart about the Bible, and I don’t know anything!” Host a get-together that doesn’t revolve around church talk.
(Yes, I realize these suggestions can stunt a believer’s growth if relied upon over the long haul. But they won’t stunt growth as much as allowing such excuses to keep others at arm’s length forever. These are just to get you started. Think of how you can take a baby step toward building community around fun. As you get used to walking with the church in a life-on-life setting, then you can begin addressing the fears about the dust bunnies or the time commitments or the lack of biblical knowledge.)
Maybe it’s time to see the people around us (me) as hearts to be loved on and heard from rather than crises to be fixed. Let’s be brave together as we move into this crazy notion of family God has cherished from the beginning. How can you begin building community just for fun?
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