learnin’ fun

As I wrote recently, I’ve been thinkin’ about things the different branches of collegiate ministry can learn from each other. It’s cool to see how God often highlights certain truths through repeated experiences on this trip, and that happened recently in one lil’ area in which campus-based ministries often excel.

I visited the EV Free Fullerton college ministry a few weeks ago. While there was plenty of good stuff that night, one big thing that stuck out to me was the amount of fun that group had together, right there in their weekly “big group Bible study” at the church. They laughed with each other (and at each other) – and even had a 10-minute “Weekend Update”-style comedy routine. And it was really well done (even in the midst of the writer’s strike!).

That church-based college ministry’s “fun level” stuck out to me, so I got to thinkin’. (That’s what I’m supposed to do on this trip, right?)

I wasn’t surprised at all when Jon, EV Free’s college minister, mentioned his past service in Campus Crusade ministry. In fact, I’d already guessed that might be the case. Because I’ve been to enough Cru meetings to know that fun is part of their culture. In getting to interview Jon and other staff members, it’s clear the Crusade thing has stuck with him – and also that he’s pretty big on building relationships among & with the students.

That can happen pretty well through that crazy little thing called fun.

After a later interview, with Ross at Malibu Pres, I put more pieces together. He talked about being impacted in Collegiate Ministry by the high school ministry of Young Life. Specifically, he reminded me, YL pushes the relational thing pretty hard. And if you’re familiar with Young Life at all, you know a big part of that relational emphasis has traditionally been achieved through fun.

Very early in this trip, I wrote a post that noted the amount of fun (or lack thereof) I was seeing within college ministries. But we’ve all seen how relationships can be built through joyful interaction, “inside jokes,” creativity, and even – dare I say it – “frivolous levity.” Or whatever.

And, interestingly, often the level of fun reflects the level of relationship that has been built in our ministries, too.

I think some campus-based ministries offer this strength to the rest of us. Some of those ministries clearly portray the fact that having fun, enjoying each other, enjoying life together – that these are helpful ingredients in college ministry. Even within “serious” events, like Bible studies.

So maybe for some of us in church-based ministries or Christian colleges, having fun together – even beyond pre-planned “fellowship activities” – might be a shot-in-the-arm for our own ministries. And for some of our students, this can be a chance to fulfill their God-given purpose of bringin’ joy to others through humor, creativity, and other applications of their personality.

Can you over-do the “fun thing”? Sure! We’re all trying to fight the caricature of “just-pizza-parties” college ministry.

But you can under-do fun, too, right?

I understand this is all generalization, but that’s the point. I’m not raggin’ on anybody, and I’m sure there are plenty of Christian colleges and church-based college ministries that regularly exude joyful fellowship. I’m just pointing out a small thing in which one of our Collegiate Ministry branches happens to be really strong sometimes.

So when’s the last time you dropped in on your local campus-based ministry? You might just learn something from the way they do ministry – and you might have a little fun!

Written at the Motel 6, San Luis Obispo.

One Comment

  1. Jake

    Ben, Lesley just pointed out an interesting fact. In therapy, especially in family therapy, one of the things that psychologists will do is have the family play a game together. If they are all able to play together there is generally much more hope for them to work through the tougher issues and go deeper in therapy together as well. I think this relates to what you were saying also

Leave a Reply