How Important Is Having Fun in Youth Ministry?

How important is having fun in youth ministry

My seminary didn’t teach any courses about how to help students have fun at church.

New Testament Survey? Yes.

Theology? Yes.

Fun? No.

Fun isn’t usually on the Bible college or Seminary course list.


Last Sunday, you looked out across your students and you saw bored faces.

You started a new message series that you thought would get your students excited. It didn’t. You got blank, disengaged stares looking back at you. To make it worse, you just ran into a family at the store who recently left your church and started going to a different church down the road.

You’re not having fun. Your students aren’t having fun. But what can you do about it?

How important is having fun in your ministry?

I was recently at a youth ministry conference where I overheard a youth pastor talking with one of the speakers. The youth pastor described his situation: blank stares, bored faces.

The speaker candidly asked if they were doing anything fun that would attract students to their program. After a few seconds of silence, the youth pastor quietly responded, “Well, no. I didn’t think it was that important.”

Don’t make that mistake.

Let me assure you:
Helping students have fun at church is one of your highest priorities as a youth pastor.

There are 3 reasons why that’s true:

1. Students want to have fun.

In his book, Playing for KeepsReggie Joiner says, “We were made to have fun.”

I became a Christian through the ministry of Young Life. The churches I’d visited with friends and girlfriends through my middle school and high school years weren’t what I’d describe as fun. But Young Life was. So I went back. Week after week.

It’s what led me to go on a weekend retreat with them. As I describe in my book, Varsity Faith:
“I could tolerate all the talking about Jesus because the games and activities were fun enough to make it worthwhile.”

That was the weekend that I became a Christian.

Fun matters.

There’s no distinction between Christian and non-Christian students when it comes to fun: every student wants to have fun.

2. Students will come back for fun.

We tend to assume that students today are like we were when we were their age. It’s not true. Times have changed; students have changed. Even so, fun is still a high priority for students. And when they find it, they’ll come back for more.

We all know the story: a guy spends the night with a friend. He wakes up Sunday morning and goes to another church with his friend. That church was fun. More fun than yours. Next thing you know, the guy is begging his parents to go to the new church. He wants to go to the new, fun church with his friend every Sunday. That family eventually leaves your church.

Oh by the way, that’s the family of Dan Cathy, President and CEO of Chick-fil-A. I led a small group of students alongside him a few years ago, and that’s how he said he’d arrived at that church: his son liked it better because it was more fun than the church they were at before.

Students will come back for fun.

3. Students will invite their friends to something fun.

Because students want to have fun and will come back for fun, they will also invite their friends to something fun. Students are like pack animals: they don’t ever want to be alone. They will invite their friends to something they think is worth being at. They won’t invite their friends to something they think isn’t worth being at.

If they think you’ll embarrass them, they won’t invite their friends.

If they think your program isn’t good, they won’t invite their friends.

If they think something fun is happening, they will invite their friends.

Instead of pleading with students to invite their friends, what if you take the time to create some fun things they think are actually worth inviting their friends to?

Kenny Campbell says it well: “We build trust with fun, we build relationships with fun, and we build engagement with fun.”

He’s right. Fun builds trust, relationships, and engagement.

At the end of the day, here’s the equation that you need to understand:


It’s that simple.

Your seminary professor didn’t tell you, but helping students have fun at church is one of your highest priorities as a youth pastor.

Question: Are students having fun at your church?

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Trevor Hamaker (DMin, McAfee School of Theology) is an author, adjunct professor, and youth ministry coach. He helps youth pastors see their potential, develop their skills, and reach their goals.

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