After four decades of ministry primarily focused on youth, young adults and young leaders, I welcomed the invitation to become the director of congregational ministries within Mennonite Church Manitoba.
As congregations walk into the future, they know that the work of reconnecting and reimagining awaits them. What I also want them to know is that this work can be a lot of fun. I suspect this will not be their first thought.
But exercising our creativity and curiosity muscles, and challenging ourselves to stretch our imagination, can be fun. Expanding our vocabulary to include words like experimentation, hibernation, collaboration, dream and scheme, can be fun. Growing into who the Spirit is calling us to be can be fun.
Before I continue building a case for seeing the future of the church as potentially being a lot of fun, let me offer a few words about fun. Although I have always been a fan of fun, my attention was caught by the book Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again by Catherine Price. Rather than seeing fun as frivolous, she argues that fun helps us thrive, writing that it can be “playful rebellion or euphoric connection . . . true fun makes us feel alive.” It was in reading this that I began to connect the dots between following Jesus and fun.
I hold volumes of memories of engaging in radical acts of faithfulness with young people: serving vulnerable people, showing up for occasions of solidarity, offering lengthy prayers for global suffering and calling our congregations to join with us.
This is serious Spirit work, but almost always the youth walked away saying, “That was fun.” Why would they call that fun? Because they were feeling alive, their heart was pulsing with purpose and they understood that we were embodying the way of Jesus. In my theological language, I would say they were coming alive in the Spirit.
Walking into our future, our congregational ministries—worship, formation, congregational care and community life—will continue to be guided by our embrace of the call to “love God with all we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves.” Post-pandemic, paying attention to and giving energy to our relationships within (and beyond) our congregation will be priority No. 1. This will be our good work and, yes, this will be fun!
When I became director of congregational ministries, I received a new sign on my door, signalling that the ministry that flowed from my office was now taking a new direction. Tempting me now is the urge to make a colourful handmade sign declaring my office the “Office of Fun” because truly that is what I anticipate having.
I am holding a strong hope that reimagining our congregational ministries will include drafting experiments, lively conversations around bonfires, prayer walks in the forest and curiosity about why we do the things we do. And is it time to have some fun together?
Known as “Kathyg” within MC Manitoba, the writer has spent the last four decades in a variety of ministry settings, including neighborhood centres, youth institutions and drop-ins, congregational youth ministry, and the last decade serving the regional church as associate director of leadership ministries.