The above title came to mind after watching a recent “Ask Pastor John” installment over at Desiring God regarding the question, “Does John Piper hate Fun?” Apparently, some people believe he does indeed hate “fun.” And the question, in general, peeked my interest since “fun” is often advertized as a key component in many children’s and youth ministry resources.
In looking over our stated mission, vision, philosophy, and distinctions of our children’s and youth resources, I noticed that the word “fun” is completely absent. So, one might ask, “Is CDG opposed to children and youth having fun in the classroom? Are our resources written in a manner that is meant to squash fun?” Well, we are not opposed to fun per say, but we more concerned about pursuing something much more satisfying and lasting. There’s something our children need more than fun—serious joy! In pursuing serious joy, “fun” may be a by-product—especially in the younger grades—but it is merely a foretaste meant to point our students to serious joy.
Please listen to or read Pastor John’s response to “Does John Piper Hate Fun?” Here is a portion of his answer that I think we would do well to apply in age-appropriate ways our Sunday school classrooms:
We are all, myself included, infected with the vocabulary of entertainment, the vocabulary of amusement—infected. “Having fun.” “Having a blast.” This is where we are at home. We are at home with entertainment. This is our default vocabulary resource. This is our native air. The vocabulary of earnestness and gravity and depth and weightiness and substance, these are foreign. They make us feel awkward. They are not natural to us. And that is my lament. It is not about words. We have borrowed the language of entertainment to describe sacred, weighty, serious, holy joys. And the best thing we can say to being an ambassador of the King of kings is, “It is a blast.” I regard that as tragic—and not just a vocabulary tragedy, but a spirit tragedy, a life tragedy, a huge loss in the church and in life.
…If anyone thinks that I want ministers to become boring or somber or gloomy or melancholy, let me close like this: Unbroken seriousness of a melodramatic or somber kind will inevitably communicate a sickness of soul to the great mass of people, and rightly so…The real battle in life is to be as happy in God as we can be, and that takes a very special kind of earnestness…
So, my lament is not a lament about the word fun. It is a lament about the loss of the capacity to feel and express the fun of cotton candy and roller coasters at the fair with our kids and the tear-stained joy of soul-saving ministry in the service of a crucified, triumphant King. There is a difference, brothers. There is a difference. And it would be a good thing to use words that help people feel the difference.
(by John Piper, © Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)