My wife loves to tell the soccer ball story. We both remember being around Christian communities in college that were really intense. They were intense because of a view that Christianity was about being serious, after all we were on mission and if we “wasted time” having fun, we would miss the mission of God.
One of the men we knew in these communities would pray for countless hours, read his bible as often as he could and sought to evangelize as much as possible. These are things that are honorable and we need more of this pursuit God in our day, but he also refused to have fun, there was too much to do and he was serious about making sure he avoided wasting time. This prevented him from engaging with people as friends, extending his life in Christ to them along with his doctrine.
On one of his prayer walks there was a soccer ball and he haphazardly kicked it and in kicking it he remembered how much fun and awakened the joy he had while playing soccer with friends. It was a liberating moment for him because he realized that joy in soccer was not incompatible with joy in God. He could participate in activities that weren’t designated as “Christian” as a means to enjoy God and extend his joy in God to others.
I’ve watched many similarly minded people grow weary from this duty based and serious-all-the-time focus on living the Christian life. By no means am I saying that Christians shouldn’t take God and His mission seriously, but a joyless, duty-based Christianity is not the picture of Jesus or the Christian faith the scriptures present.
In fact, it could be argued that missional communities should have the most fun. They should be communities that enjoy life to its fullest because in Christ they can enjoy life as it was intended to be enjoyed.
Why can’t Mission be Fun?
The word mission often brings to mind this idea of being on duty or an activity that requires intense focus, but to view the mission of God like this would be to highjack God’s desires.
Jesus healed, fed thousands, ate with many, and taught challenging and beautiful truths. All of these were the mission of God and you never get the sense that he was a joyless individual going through the motions.
A missional community can enjoy the recreations of this life and have fun in them while extending their great joy in Christ. When we think of fun events in our lives, the nostalgia alone can bring us joy because the moments themselves were so joyful. It’s in these moments where mission can flourish alongside of fun.
A Fun Community Displays Jesus Best
Jesus described salvation as the place of greatest joy. He used parables to describe how people would be willing to sell everything to experience the joy of knowing God. Jesus Himself feasted and attended parties while he was on earth, even blessing a wedding tremendously with his first miracle of turning water into wine.
[pullquote position=”right”]Salvation is the place of greatest joy and mission with a community is merely the expression of this great joy to the world.[/pullquote] A community full of Christ followers will truly display the joy of Christ when they have fun and enjoy one another. This is the freedom of the gospel. Jesus saving us into a community that places value on each other not based on personality types, Myers-Briggs tests, wealth or lack thereof, or even life stage. Our value is based on the dignity and love bestowed on us from God that is proclaimed through the perfect life, forgiving death, and life-giving resurrection of Jesus.
It’s impossible to have fun and extend the gospel when we are self-focused. We are consumed with how others think of us, enslaved by approval and concern of others’ opinions. In the gospel, we are now free to love others knowing we are and will always be fully loved in Christ. Gospel freedom opening up our lives to great joy and fun.
Tweet this: “Salvation is the place of greatest joy and mission is merely the expression of this great joy.” @logangentry
Making Your Missional Community Fun
Beyond that, as much as we’d like a missional community to be fun organically, there must be an intention to display the joy of God through formal and informal meals, recreation, and random get togethers.
A leader of a missional community can create this culture through inviting people into their life and pursuing others in the community. Over time there will be people in the community that stand out among the core committed to building the relationships of the community through social events. The leader of the missional community can empower these people while they continue to cast vision for gospel enjoyment and gospel mission.
[pullquote position=”right”]A missional community can throw the best parties and be the ones that every party wants to invite. [/pullquote]This is the freedom of the gospel, that it shapes Christ followers to be a blessing in every situation, as opposed to a killjoy.
The gospel accounts show that Jesus would always breathe life and ignite joy into every situation because He isn’t concerned with himself, but concerned with loving others.
A missional community shaped by the gospel can now be the most hospitable because they have received hospitality from Jesus, being invited to His table of salvation and they hope to experience his great hospitality in heaven. Christ followers did not receive a pre-requisite list of characteristics from Jesus in order to be accepted and we have no need to make a list of our own in welcoming people into our homes and to our celebrations.
We don’t often think this way, but the grace of Christ in the gospel confronts our false ideas and invites us into a new way of life.
Tweet this: “Missional communities breathe life & ignite joy in every situation, focused less on themselves & most on loving others.” @logangentry
A kingdom demonstrated through joy
Jesus often described His people as a new kingdom not marked by borders, but by lifestyle. When God’s people form a missional community that displays Jesus through enjoying God’s creation and recreation while on mission, we display the kingdom of the most joyful King.
This is also the greatest invitation to the world, receive our joyful salvation and experience the community set free by Jesus to enjoy life as God intended.
Tweet this: “The grace of Christ in the gospel confronts our false ideas & ways while inviting us into a new way of life and joy.” @logangentry