A Theology of Fun (!): Reflections on Albert Hung’s Sermon “Vision Sunday”

By Juan Zung

Last Sunday, Pastor Albert preached about “Vision Sunday!” A vision where church is a party. Where church is fun!

But what exactly is a fun church?

And how does one make a church fun?

Big questions. I don’t have the answers. But I googled it. And found some interesting stuff.

Fun & Games

Th-End-of-Dance-Dance-Revolution--110375

Here’s something interesting: people don’t often know how to describe what’s fun for them.

So it is often pointless to ask. And sometimes worse than pointless, because you might end up giving them something they say they want. When they don’t actually want that at all. [1]

An example:

Gamers say they like “good graphics,” so video game companies make games with amazing graphics. Yet alotta of the titles in GAMESTOP’s clearance bin have some of the most amazing graphics on the planet, but are not at all fun. Meanwhile, you have a game with decidedly lousy graphics (I recently heard of this thing called the Minecraft) that is like the funnest thing since 12-sided die and a level-6 irresistible dance spell.

And what about church? If we did a survey for church asking people what would make church more fun, my guess is we’d get a list like this [2]:

  1. More trendier music
  2. Funnier sermons
  3. More comfortable pews
  4. Name brand coffee
  5. Cheerleaders

Or something like that.

But, as marketing guru Guy Kawaski says, don’t ask people what they want; just watch what they do. Which is exactly what gaming-&-fun guru (a lot gurus in this post) Nicole Lazzaro has done.

Nicole Lazzaro

Nicole Lazzaro

Her idea of fun comes in four packages:

  1. People Fun (Friendship): People love hanging out with their friends. It’s bonding and addictive.
  2. Hard Fun (Challenge): People love a challenge, something that is hard enough to make us feel accomplished but not so hard that we get lost or frustrated.
  3. Easy Fun (Novelty): People love to explore and imagine without feeling like they’re on time or performance constraints.
  4. Serious Fun (Meaning): People love to be inspired. Inspired to think, feel and act in ways that will change their worlds.

Lazzaro’s research shows that any one of these experiences = a fun time. And three-outta-four in one experience? Well then you got a best-seller. [3]

How does our church stack up? I’m not gonna answer that. But I bet you’re mentally doing a little assessment right now.

So, let’s ask ourselves again: how does one make a church fun?

The Theology of Fun

And now to my plagiarized blog-post-title: “The Theology of Fun” is a blog series by Heather Zempel of National Community Church in DC. Heather, by all appearances, is a warm and fun-loving human being.

And her idea of fun also comes in fours:

  1. Throw Better Parties: “Hospitality is more than teacups, doilies, well set tables, and good manners. It’s a lot more dangerous than that. And a lot more fun.”
  2. The Discipline of Fun: Yes, spontaneous is fun. But most of the time, someone in the background minding the details goes a long way towards a good time.
  3. Take God Seriously… Not Yourself: Sometimes dancing naked in the streets is exactly the kind of foolish humility that God wants from us. Seriously. Look it up. 2 Samuel 6.
  4. Why Fun?: What is humanity’s purpose but to glorify God and enjoy him forever? (C.S. Lewis)

Festivus

Back to Albert’s sermon:

The Gospel of Luke talks about a big party that’s being planned by some important dude. And this big shot wants to invite all his friends. But they’re too busy to come. So, what does he do? He decides to open his doors to the whole rest of the world. This, said Jesus, is what the Kingdom of Heaven is. A place not for the insiders but for the outsiders. Not for people who’ve got something going for them, but for people who aint’ got nothing going for them.

pieter_breugel_the_elder_peasant_wedding_banquet

It’s a party full of human beings. Just plain human beings. Gimpy, limpy, pimply, busted-up and sickly. Simply.

This is the party. Not a place to show off how rich and important we are, or how blissfully married we are, or how funny or successful or intelligent we are. But a place where the qualification is how human we are.

It’s like a Festivus for the Restavus.

—————————–

NOTES

[1] Guy Kawasaki describes a market research experiment for a boombox company. They asked a bunch of teenagers what color boombox they liked: Screaming Yellow of Basic Black. All of them said Yellow. At the end, they gave each kid a free boombox. They could pick Yellow or Black. They all took the Black one.

[2] This list is BS. I didn’t do a survey. I just made up some generic things that some imaginary generic church goers would say.

[3] Nicole’s company, XEODesign, does research on why people play games in order to develop methods to increase gaming engagement. In 2004, they used state of the art facial expression analysis to formulate their “The 4 Keys to Fun” theory, “a model that demystifies how best sellers create captivating play, rich experiences, and strong player re-engagement.”

4_keys_poster3

———————

JPjuly'12.001Juan Zung is a secular Christian, practicing Christianity but remaining atheistic in his beliefs. If this seems completely contradictory, welcome to his world! He writes freelance copy “for a living” and he blogs at Ghozt Writer. His posts on Christianity are found HERE.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “A Theology of Fun (!): Reflections on Albert Hung’s Sermon “Vision Sunday”

  1. Great insights, Juan Zung, as always. Becoming a fun church is not about gimmicks and entertainment, but about embracing our God-given capacity for pleasure. We ought to leave our gatherings feeling a little more alive than when we arrived. And hopefully we brought a few new friends to the Party, and they got to spend some time with the Host while they were there.

  2. Those things listed as what people like to have in a fun church are things I absolutely don’t care about. Which just shows that fun is different for everyone.

    I would like to join your party. I’ll get the pole out of the crawl space.

  3. I love that line: “Gimpy, limpy, pimply, busted-up and sickly.” Just how I imagine Brueghel paintings. Those medievals did some thinking of their own on fun, I bet (ever listen to Carmina Burana?).
    And wasn’t the CS Lewis quote from the Westminister Catechism of English 17th century? This fun stuff goes waaay back.
    Helps me to read about fun, having to keep teenage artists be engaged at my school for 3-hour long stretches. One thing I did with ’em yesterday was watch a couple of Youtube clips (Brain Games promo, Lego Movie trailer) which was very fun and funny.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s