Can Christians Have Fun?

Corey StumneBy Corey Stumne10 Minutes

“Hey, now, don’t have too much fun — you’re in church, after all!”

My youth ministry volunteer didn’t actually mean what he said. His words were spoken in sarcastic jest, spurring the kids on to even higher levels of rambunctious fun. But there’s usually hidden truth found in sarcasm, right?

Being a youth minister for almost a decade, I’ve seen my fair share of church members complain about lively teenagers.

“Why are they doing dances in the pews?”

“Can you get them to stop running?”

“They’re too rowdy in the church kitchen!”

Granted, sometimes they need to relax and tone it down. But I believe a clear message is relayed to them when they hear these complaints: “Church isn’t a place for fun.”

Take a poll of random people in your town and ask them to describe church in one word. If I had to guess, the word “boring” would roll off people’s tongues often.

If the church isn’t a building but rather the body (or group) of believers, then we are left to infer that Christians are often categorized as boring. Unfun. Unexciting. Lackluster. And, to be honest, we’ve rightfully earned that reputation.

Do you know the core values of your church? Many churches I visit display their core values on the walls of their building, telling guests what the Christians who gather there are all about. Often, I see inspiring words such as faith, service, love, and giving.

When was the last time you saw a church publicly state they value fun?

Better question: If you did see the word “fun” as a core value of a church, what would you think about that church?

Can Christians have fun? Should Christians seek out fun? Should they value fun?

And, perhaps, the million-dollar question: Was Jesus a fun guy?

There’s no doubt about it — Jesus was 100% human and faced the full spectrum of emotions and experiences we do. He was happy, sad, excited, tired, nervous, overwhelmed, confident, etc. When it came to his relationship with God, he was clearly reverent and submissive, yet intimate and friendly. No doubt, sometimes he experienced boredom in his day-to-day life.

But was he a fun guy? What would he say? Or, better yet, what would his friends and neighbors say?

I believe the second chapter of the Gospel of John offers us an intimate glimpse into Christ’s life that gives us a piece to this puzzle.

The story goes like this: Jesus and his new disciples were invited to a wedding. At some point during the party, the wine ran out. Jewish scholars agree this would’ve been an incredible embarrassment to the host family. Quietly, Jesus instructs servants to fill six stone jars full of water; these were used for ceremonial cleansing and would’ve held 20-30 gallons of water each. He commands them to then fetch drinks from these jars and — voila! — the water miraculously turns into wine, and not just any wine — the best wine!

A couple of things to contemplate surrounding this story as we pursue the connection of Christians and fun.

First, Jesus was invited to a wedding feast. This might seem like a minor detail, but let’s not overlook this. Jewish wedding feasts were extensive parties that involved food, dancing, music, and alcohol. They were fun! Jesus’ whole crew was invited. The bride and groom wanted them there. They didn’t have to invite them, but they did. Although this was at the very beginning of his public ministry (Jesus wasn’t famous yet because he hadn’t performed any miraculous signs up to that point), Jesus wasn’t seen by the Cana locals as a stiff religious guy looking for reasons to look down his nose at people enjoying themselves. Even without his miraculous powers, Jesus was wanted at parties, plain and simple.

Then there’s the actual miracle he performs. The wine runs out. Embarrassing for the host, sure, but not the end of the world. Truthfully, the guests didn’t need more wine; they’d been drinking for a long while already, and water was probably available. And yet, Jesus doesn’t just turn water into wine, but he turns a massive amount of water into wine (probably around 120-180 gallons). Jesus had a clear opportunity to let the fun die down a bit, but he does the exact opposite — he dials it up! And then, in verse 11, John says “and his disciples believed in him.” Faith grew in those around him after he brought more wine to the party. Jesus honored God by continuing the fun.

And while this might be the most blatant story suggesting Jesus was, indeed, a fun guy, there are plenty of other minor examples scattered throughout the Bible. He was always found at dinner parties. Children flocked to him. His storytelling abilities were unmatched. And he constantly hung around the people that religious leaders avoided.

Does that sound like a spiritual curmudgeon? Of course not.

Jesus was a fun guy.

And if Jesus was a fun guy, then his followers aren’t just permitted to have fun; they ought to value fun as a way of honoring God.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to have fun that dishonor God. This should go without saying. I’m not suggesting Christians should do whatever they want in the name of fun because Jesus created fun for our enjoyment. We must have God-honoring fun, something our culture portrays as impossible or, at best, awkward.

But culture has it wrong. God-honoring fun should come natural to us.

The students in my youth ministry get it. We don’t need to do much to have a raucous-good time. Our student room is filled every week with worship, prayer, scripture reading, and reverence. But don’t think those spiritual actions must always be serious and somber. Our students do them with smiles on their faces, loud clapping, laughing, and a sense of real fellowship. And our adults in the church notice with grins that run across their faces.

God is honored by our fun.

Growing up, I hated high school dances. I avoided them at all costs; I’d rather spend an evening with my small group of friends watching a movie and ordering a pizza than sweating on the gym floor attempting to dance to loud music.

When a big school dance rolled around, my mother always tried to make me go.

I’d roll my eyes. “But why?”

“Because Jesus needs more authentic Christians at school dances.”

She was saying I needed to go to the party because I was a Christian.

Our next-door neighbors were also devout Christians. We all went to the same high school. Their mother prohibited them from school dances. Why? Because they were Christians. “You can’t go to that,” she’d say. “You follow Jesus, after all.”

Same dance. Same faith. Same Savior. And yet, two totally opposite ways of viewing fun.

Some Christians look at fun with a worried gaze, unsure of where it might lead. Others view it as an opportunity to honor God and show the world that following Jesus is thrilling and exciting.

Let’s value fun as a tool God has given us for our enjoyment and as a way to draw people into the community of believers.

Let’s honor God with fun.

Afterall, we follow the creator of fun.