Why You Need a Theology of Fun

Fun is both a spiritual gift and a spiritual discipline.

I’m convinced the blessings of God require discipline and the spiritual disciplines double as spiritual blessings.

For instance, confession is a spiritual discipline, but we find when we practice it that we receive the gift of healing (James 5:16).

Reading the Word is a spiritual discipline—it takes intentionality, practice and energy—but it also brings spiritual blessing (Joshua 1:8).

Likewise, leadership and prophecy and mercy are all spiritual gifts, but we are instructed to nurture them, grow them and steward our leadership in them with the discipline of an athlete, patience of a farmer and focus of a soldier (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Timothy 4:15, 2 Timothy 2:3-6).

Fun is no different.

Sometimes fun overwhelms us. We laugh until we hurt, we worship until our words dry up, we play until we are sore and we are returned to childhood in the magic of Disney World. Fun comes naturally and without effort.

Sometimes, fun is more like a discipline.

We have to plan for it, prepare for it and be intentional with it. I don’t want to stretch the idea too far, but I see parallels with the practice of Sabbath. Sabbath was given to the children of Israel as both a discipline (to reflect the character and ways of God—Exodus 20) and as a blessing (to celebrate their freedom from slavery—Deuteronomy 5).

I’ve made a conscious decision that fun will be a part of my life.

I love the times it just happens, but other times I have to be intentional and strategic about pursuing it, recognizing it and living in it. Jenilee and I will often plan adventures and schedule fun because we know the joy of the Lord is not just something we drift into but a reality we are called to search out and discover.

Recently, we wanted to surprise some friends in Chicago. Great idea. Except the details and planning of such an adventure threatened to spin out of control.

How do you schedule the flight and connect to the train to arrange to be at just the right spot at precisely the right time to bump into your two friends in downtown Chicago when they walked by? It was a logistical nightmare, but the hard work paid off in fun.

Another time, we planned a midnight scavenger hunt birthday party for our friend, Maegan, complete with video clues, surprise visits from friends, a video greeting from the boyfriend on mission trip in Ethiopia, and breakfast on the roof of Ebenezers Coffeehouse. It was scheduled and intentional fun.

This week, plan some fun. Put it into the schedule and into the budget. It’s both a spiritual discipline and a spiritual gift. Let’s practice it.  

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Heather Zempel
After working as an environmental engineer for a few years and a policy advisor on Capitol Hill for a few years, Heather finally landed as the Pastor of Discipleship at National Community Church in Washington, DC.

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