In his prescription for struggling churches wishing to become “perfectly imperect,” Steve Sjogren has so far stuck with the usual fare. The next path he suggests breaks the mold – Fun. He says, “I have come to the conclusion that people only do something for a prolonged period of time when it’s fun… We are hard-wired by God to do what is enjoyable.”
I confess that I’d rather have fun than not, but I also recognize that when FUN becomes the principle by which I live I (and the people around me) am in trouble. This hedonistic approach seems foreign to the way of Jesus. “So are you saying,” you may ask, “Was Jesus a kill-joy? A many who went around with a somber look on his face? A man who constantly looked like he’d been sucking lemons?” No – I think that’s a false dichotomy.
Surely anyone who has been involved in discipling work for any length of time knows that one of the hardest parts of the job is helping people have the “want to” – the desire to become like Jesus and obey him. “If anyone wants to follow me, let him take up his cross and follow me.” I understand the concept of “cross” and the concept of “fun.” I see no overlap at all.
Of course this can make it hard for us to grow our churches if we’re always talking about taking up crosses – of living a crucified life. There’s no fun in that. No fun perhaps, but there is joy. Consider Paul in Philippians 4. The whole book has dealt with suffering: the willing suffering of Jesus; the willing suffering of Paul; the call of God upon the Philippians to a double imitation (of Jesus and Paul) in taking up their own suffering. Given all this apparently morbid talk, how does Paul close the letter? “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And so on.
I think Sjogren needs to do a little more work on fun.