A Theology of Fun


This past weekend we had one of the most highly anticipated events of our youth ministry calendar—our All-Nighter. The anticipation works two ways: 1) The joy of fun times and a night of random crazy antics coming your way 2) The trepidation that sinks in when you realize you get a night of no sleep. The latter becomes especially obvious the older you get.

But we do all-nighters, just like we do other fun type events, because we believe in the power of fun. Further, we might go as far as to say we believe in developing a theology of fun.

If you really stop to think about it, the church should be a place where we not only have moments of deep reflection and contemplation, but also a place where we celebrate often.

Jesus talked endlessly about a concept called ‘life to the full’ or ‘life of the ages,’ or ‘eternal life.’

Jesus talked about how there was another way to order your life. He taught there is a way of living out of the depths of God’s goodness and character, a way of love, joy, and peace.

He said this new way to live–which was the best way to live– was found in him.

We’ve often taken his words and applied them to a time after our journey on this earth. We concluded he was talking about heaven. Which he was of course, but this best life Jesus was talking of, this life that touches heaven, is not something that happens just when you die. It actually happens now.

As we approach Easter, we remember this fullness of life available to us through the resurrection of Christ. Easter is an event that reveals God is concerned with life here and now. The whole point of the Resurrection is that God didn’t create us to be escape artists that flee this life; rather, he reminds us that this life is coming back around, that we will be made brand new.  What happens now matters greatly.

Having fun reminds us of this life to the full we’ve been given.

The late great youth ministry guru Mike Yaconelli wrote a book called Dangerous Wonder  in which he said part of our evangelism strategy should be to ‘play people into the kingdom of God.” I thought that was brilliant.

It brings up important questions.

What if fun is a doorway by which we meet the joyful, exuberant, rapturous Father of heaven?

What if in a world and culture that is overly-worked, overly-stressed, and overly-anxious, the church offers a fresh perspective that allows for a place of comfort and laughter?

It’s important to note that fun doesn’t mean shallow; nor does fun always mean laughter and games. Fun is not an emotion or a reaction per say, but rather a way of ordering your life.

We have to ask ourselves, “Are we having fun for the sake of the kingdom?” Moreover, “Do we have fun because we know we’ve found life, the beautiful, grace-filled, truth-revealing life?

That’s the kind of life I want to find.

To be certain, there will be times when we mourn and grieve. There will be moments of sadness and despair. We’d be foolish to overlook the evil and darkness present around us. Indeed, the world is a place where we share both laughter and tears. However, it is also a place where we take time to celebrate because we know a new world is being born.

God came to rescue us from a fallen and broken world. He came to restore us, to transform us. We know in Christ, death has lost its sting. The shadows of a dark and bland world roll away, as we approach the one who gives life itself.

It might be a good question every now and then to ask ourselves, “Are we having fun?”

Because maybe, just maybe, having fun is a sign of life in God’s kingdom.

And maybe, developing a theology of fun enables us to embrace this life to the full, and to share this life with others.

Leave a Reply


  1. Kiol Zemog

    It’s one of my favorite things about grace too. Now that there aren’t a bunch of rules to follow, or rituals to attend, or days that are more special than other days, we can just LIVE our lives in grace and forgiveness instead of always trying to earn it all the time, or worrying about whether we stand in God’s favor. THAT, for me, allows me to actually have fun in life without inhibitions or hinderances!

    • Stephen Pate

      So true! To live in grace and through grace, allows us to be ourselves and to truly embrace life with all we have. Brennan Manning taught me about that kind of grace that lives to living freely.

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