I have no idea how many congregations I've worshiped with over the years. It's a lot. I've also worshiped with a lot college faith communities in San Diego and LA, in Las Vegas and Phoenix, from Georgetown to southern Maryland and now in different parts of Texas.
I have to be honest, I enjoy worshiping with college communities much more than I do most congregations.
Last Sunday, I had the privilege of worshiping with the Episcopal community at UT Austin. They have a great community there and I really enjoyed being with them. As I was on the long drive back to Houston, I started thinking about why it was that these communities felt so good to be with as opposed to others.
I don't have much in common with most college students. It's not affinity. The students all grew up on Pokémon and Harry Potter, not G.I. Joe and Star Wars (ahem, the original trilogy--thank you very much). I usually feel old when I'm with them! As I was driving it dawned on me what it was: Fun!
The follow the same template for worship. Many of them have leadership teams or vestries that assist their chaplain in organizing, administrating and leading the community. Honestly, the form is not that different... but they have fun.
My friend Jane Gerdsen, whom I deeply respect as a Christian leader, talked about the need for a sense of play in church in my interview with her awhile back. I think this falls in line with a sense of fun. This doesn't mean we should be sloppy or not do things well. What it does mean is that we actually believe that when we come together to worship, we are intended to enjoy being together and worshiping. And I have to be honest, somber faces and drab music delivery ... not enjoyable.
One of the most steadily growing congregations I worked with in DC regularly put slip 'n slides and jump houses in the church's front yard. Fun is contagious.
St. Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is a man fully alive." Be alive! Have some fun at church. A fun faith community is an attractive faith community.
By the way, a sign of silliness and fun in the Episcopal community at UT Austin was jamming to 4 Non Blondes, "What's Up" after the dismissal. As we walked to dinner, I reflected to a student, "Man, I remember when that song came out!" To which he replied, "Wasn't that like the '80's or something?!" ... I'm so old.