I recently attended my church’s Christmas services with my wife, my parents, and my wife’s mother.  We were very excited about it because we had heard that our church had prepared some great music, musical numbers, and an interactive thing using our phones.
Now, you might be thinking ”interactive thing using our phones?”  “Musical numbers?”  Sounds like a show more than a church service.
Well, there was a family sitting right in front of us that was visiting the church I attend that I am pretty sure was thinking the same thing.  In fact, I saw the older son lean over to his father during one of the electric guitar solos and say, “This is ridiculous. This isn’t church. It’s just a show.  They’re just up there having fun!”  Needless to say, they were not happy.
Now, I have to admit, I was a little puzzled about how visibly appalled and angry they were.  Yes, it was fun. Yes, there was a lot of laughter.  But, eventually, there was a very compelling message about the fact that the story that the Son of God came to this earth as a baby. It isn’t JUST a Christmas-time fable, but an actual event. A Fact.
But, the family in front of me didn’t seem to hear that part. They were bent out of shape at some of the “fun” we were having and, I suppose, were upset that the service wasn’t something to “their” liking. Maybe something more–“Reverent”.
Now, cut to the end of the service. We are all filing out of our rows, and as I watched this openly disgruntled family exiting the row, I heard someone else talking over my shoulder.
It was a young couple. They were dressed casually. Didn’t have a Bible in their hands.  But, I over heard them saying something that sent chills down my spine. They were saying, ”That was awesome. Didn’t I tell you we needed to come here?” And then, the next phrase that came out of the guy’s mouth rocked me.  He said, ”Yeah. You know, I think I have always thought about Christmas like it was a fairy tale.  I mean, what if it is all real?”
What if it is all real?
This guy just asked the million-dollar question.  All because he showed up.
So, what’s my point? Here’s the point. When we create environments for our children and for our parents that use a lot of “fun,” we are going to get flack. We are. It’s inevitable.  There are people who will not like how much fun we have. There will be people who will not like how much time we spend laughing.  There will be people who will feel like cracking a smile or doing something silly in church detracts from the message of Christ.  And usually, they are very vocal about it.
But when that happens, remember the family who hasn’t stepped foot in a church in years, the family who doesn’t even own a Bible. Remember that family who has ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH within its pages.  Because I believe the “fun” (also referred to as JOY by more scholarly folk) might be what prepares that family to hear something that makes them ask, “What if this is all real?”
If I may go out on a limb, it’s those people whose opinions matter more.   The people who are walking into your church and are expecting, well . . . whatever it was that scared them or made them leave the last time they tried to come to a church. Their opinion matters most. I’m pretty sure that family that was sitting in front of me already have a relationship with Christ. But the other young couple may have just started a journey because they heard the Truth while having a good time.
What are some of the struggles you have overcome when it comes to incorporating “fun” into your environments?  Do you have any helpful ideas on how to talk with detractors?