We value fun.
Yes, we want to spend time seriously discussing meaningful topics and applying scripture to our lives in order to see personal and church growth, but we also want to have fun while doing it.
This is one of the reasons that half of our scheduled time is spent in an unstructured environment where students are not only able, but encouraged to play. We utilize ping-pong tables, spike ball, mini basketball goals, giant jenga, and other games students can play. We create intentional spaces where they can come and do nothing, sitting around a table or in a nook of the parish hall.
Even in the hour that we have structured and planned things to do as a group, we spend a good deal of time playing. Whether it is shooting the impossible shot, participating in a screen game, or doing something messy. We do fun things because it's hard (but not impossible) to play and be guarded.
I heard another youth worker, Frank Gill, put it this way;
"Fun is the equity to be able to speak into the lives of students. When you make the environment fun...when you give opportunities for students to be able to relax and let their walls down, and laugh, and be able to enjoy themselves, then, that is when you get the ability to speak into the lives of kids and ask deep questions..."
We spend so much of our structured and unstructured time encouraging kids to play because we think it will allow them to be open and receptive to the message of love that we try to give each week.
Even our message tonight was about playing. Our theme for the week was Jerseys/team gear and we talked about how wearing a jersey shows your support. How if you are wearing a jersey and meet a stranger wearing the same one there is a connection that exists immediately. Despite whatever differences exist between you, you are connected by this thing. I think that is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 12.
Even though there may be real things that make us different, we are united in the Spirit through baptism. Pauls reminder to the Corinthian church, and to us, is to remember that our differences are gifts of God that help us play our part in the Body of Christ.
When we play our parts we not only benefit ourselves but the whole of the body as well. So play on, and play well.