By Felicia Fox
Associate Pastor for Youth, Children and Discipleship at FBC Gastonia
At the beginning of the pandemic I started doing a lot of on-line shopping. Not only did I end up with a lot of new random things, I also ended up with a lot of cardboard boxes. My cat loved this new pandemic playground. Watching her joy while she explored all the boxes provided hours of entertainment for both of us. It has also inspired a new outlook on ministry.
This new outlook is the “spirit of playfulness.” God has created us to be creative and playful. It is how children learn and experience the world. Sadly, some adults lose some of this playfulness as we get older. We get busy and comfortable and it becomes easy to just cruise along, planning, and doing the same things we’ve been doing for years. This is also true for some churches.
Sometimes churches and ministers need something to wake them up from the comfortable box of doing ministry the way it has always been done. We are in that moment now. For many churches everything about how we do church was changed practically over night. We moved from in person meetings and worship to new and creative ways of being together. We are learning how to adapt and I hope embrace a spirit of playfulness in this uncertainty.
At First Baptist, Gastonia, we have been embracing our playful side. We turned our road trip themed VBS into a church wide event where our adults joined in by making car pool karaoke videos, painting toy cars, and doing a community scavenger hunt, while sharing photos on our social media pages. We even did a virtual mission trip as we Zoomed with Marc and Kim Wyatt, CBF field personnel in Raleigh.
Our playfulness carried over into our fellowship and worship. We’ve had a drive-in movie, a parking lot ice cream social hymn sing, and weekly youth picnics. We are planning a tailgate party and game night this fall. During our drive-in worship services we have tried creative ways to pray together like texting praises to be read during prayer. We even use a fishing net to take up offering from the cars as they drive in. We also set up a Kids’ Zone to allow our children a space to make a craft while they hear worship in the background.
So often in churches we box people and events off from each other. It has been really fun to watch a deeper sense of community grow among our members as we’ve learned to play and experiment together. The way we do church has been turned upside down. I am grateful that the old boxes of church have been put away for awhile and I can play with my brothers and sisters as we experience God and community in new and fun ways. I hope you are able to embrace the spirit of playfulness in your own faith community.