by Luke Trouten
Fun is fun.
Volkswagen recently launched an ad campaign called The Fun Theory. They state their idea quite simply by explaining: “We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The Fun Theory.”
In that spirit they tried a few different experiments. One of my favorites is the “World’s Deepest Garbage Bin” bit, where they hooked up a sensor and speaker to a trash bin in a public park. Have a look for youself, just click the big picture.
This seems like a very Jesus-ish idea to me. In Luke 11, Jesus picks a bone with the religious leaders for weighing down their followers with burdens they can barely carry. In Matthew 11 he states pretty clearly that he intends to the opposite with a “yoke that is easy and burden that is light.” I can’t help but think part of what Jesus was trying to get at was, “This can be more fun.”
A lot of the things we should do we don’t do because they don’t seem fun. I don’t enjoy cleaning the bathrooms at our house, and often put it off, because it isn’t fun. However, I was a maitenance guy at a camp one summer and cleaning the bathroom with the other guys on the crew was a blast! Same task, different attitude.
And Jesus doesn’t say, “my yoke is so easy that life will be a breeze.” He still fits you with a yoke, and yokes are made for one thing… work. Following Christ is going to be work. Good, honest, hard work. But that work can be fun. In fact, I think the most fun you have has to involve work, the rewarding feeling of accomplishment combined with the playful nature of teamwork is the perfect recipe for pure fun.
This plays out in youth ministry as well. One of the most successful events we do each year is 30 Hour Famine. I’m always surprised by the number of students who get excited for manual labor, sleeping on the floor, and not eating for two days. It’s one of the best events in terms of new friends joining us as well. And you know what, it is some of the most fun we have all year.
The fun theory is a great principle for student ministry. And it isn’t that we just put things on the calendar that are “fun” like ski trips, bowling, and the like. In the video, the goal is something that’s good for everyone… picking up trash. People are actively looking for trash they can throw away. But I bet if you had asked them all when they started on their walks, “Hey, do you want to go pick up other people’s trash? It’ll be fun, I promise!” they would laughed you right out of there.
So it isn’t picking “fun” events, but bringing fun into the things we’re already teaching. Spiritual disciplines (prayer, bible reading, quiet time) could benefit in huge ways by applying the Fun Theory. What about Bible reading that encourages finding the oddest name (Tilgathpilneser, hands down), or prayer time where you write down your prayers for a person and then give it to them.
Using “fun” as an instrument of change is a brilliant idea. I often get frustrated trying to “make them get it” when I could better spend that energy dreaming up a way to add more fun to the “it” I want students to experience.
Following Jesus is not about beating ourselves up until we get it right. That’s exactly what he came to rescue us from. And the things he said and lessons he shared all had one big thing in common. If you stick to them, life is going to be a lot more fun.