A professor in seminary told me a story about a teenage sister who took her young brother to church every Sunday. The boy kept fidgeting and distracting others. Finally, exasperated, the older sister chided, “Will you sit still!” The boy responded, “I can’t help it! It’s just so boring!” Without thinking she answered, “Its church, it’s supposed to be boring!”
The church, given a mission by the risen King of the universe, should be many things but boring should not be one of them. Now, before I get into this, let me be clear: I am not saying the Gospel should be watered down, I am not saying that Kingdom work is not serious business and I’m not saying church leaders should not challenge their congregations. What I am saying is that it is a false dichotomy to say that you can’t do all of these things and have fun!
How do we go about making church fun again?
First of all, any who speaks from the stage should incorporate humor. You can make a salient point and do it in a way that makes people laugh AND think. Check out the stand-up comedy of Michael, Jr. or the classic book The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood.
Second, use multimedia. According to the insightful book, Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow, modern men especially zero in when they are “shown rather than told.” In a time when the North American church is approximately 60% female, such an approach should be incorporated in every sermon if possible.
Third, get a team together to brainstorm creative ideas for worship services. I’ve by no means mastered this practice, but I have tried to think outside the box. I’ve preached in my pajamas (there was a point!), I’ve handed out pizza (one smart aleck quipped on Facebook that it was the best sermon I’ve ever delivered), had teens dance to Footloose (the 1984 classic by Kenny Loggins, not the terrible remake), etc.
Fourth, make sure you are as practical as possible. Our church recently finished a sermon series on the Holy Spirit. It was theologically deep and challenging but many of the people sitting there probably forgot half of it before they ordered their Sunday lunch. What are the members of your congregation supposed to do with the information you have given them? Make some suggestions for the week ahead and follow up on social media to remind them. If they put it into practice, they are less likely to forget it.
Finally, if you hit a deep theological point, be sure to make time to explain the why behind the what. Millennials are actually not as opposed to hearing Biblical teaching as long as we explain (to the best of our ability) why God has ordained what He has ordained. When it comes to those born between 1980 and 2000, you cannot just make a point by saying “Thus sayeth the Lord!” You must explain why the Lord doth say it! Thus, apologetic study is a must!
Most mornings, my wife and I will watch the previous evening’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. We like it compared to other television “talk shows” because Fallon goes out of his way to have fun with his guests and the audience. Is it deep? Not especially but he is creative enough to break up routine interviews with inventive games like the human “hungry, hungry hippo.” Who says that a church worship team couldn’t do the same, time to time, in between the clear presentation of the Gospel, the challenge to live holy lives and a practical application.
According to study after study, Christians are attending church less often, find it largely irrelevant to their daily lives and too effeminate. According to Haydn Shaw, the door is slowly closing on the opportunity to reach millennials. We need to move quickly, be creative, repeatedly explain to our congregations why we need to change things up.
Let’s be clear. Let’s be deep. Let’s be challenging but let’s at least try to make church fun again!