Fun within family relationships is a precious thing, isn’t it? It is part of expressing who we are and helps us to grow in friendship with each other.
Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants… but friends”. He grew relationships within his Oikos, he didn’t just train them to do ministry. They developed friendships, shared experiences, reclined and ate meals together, walked places together and shared life.
This “sharing life” includes times of rest, fun and relaxation. After all, surely an important part of any significant relationship is the ability to have fun and enjoy spending time together?
Take a moment and think both for yourself and those your community is looking to reach out to –
Would you want to be part of a family that doesn’t know how to have fun?
Sharing life and living in Oikos requires a rhythm of both productivity and rest.
The fact is, how an Oikos comes together to have fun and enjoy being together will depend on the makeup of those in thegroup. This doesn’t mean that you find the perfect formula for “fun” and look to constantly repeat it; rather you look for a balance and rhythm over timethat will work for different types of people.
In our experience, introverts and extroverts will have very different ideas about what fun looks like! For example, is it time to give the introverts a break from all the talking andjust watch a film together? Or would your community enjoy gathering for a BBQ and have an excuse for a good catch up? When you gather, could you incorporate a balance of both styles?
Often, it can be a great opportunity to spend time joining in an activity that one or two people in particular enjoy, placing value on their involvement in your community and giving people a chance to get to know them better. If relationships grow through shared experiences, where could you encourage these to take place?
Knowing how to have fun will come more easily to some groups than others. What we observe in the life of an Oikos is the need to achieve a healthy balance between purpose and play.
Consider the two extremes:
A task-focused Oikos that has a strong ethic of earnest, hard work but doesn’t know how to just have fun and spend time together will result in dryness and burnout in individuals. It can also lead to fractures and a “lone ranger” mentality within the group, as people become more defined by individual agendas than building relationships and working together.
Conversely, an Oikos that seem to be great at hanging out together, laughing and having fun, but struggle to express acommon vision and purpose will ultimately become rather introspective and aimless. Left to its own devices, this kind of group can eventually become stagnant and lifeless.
Alongside the vision that God has called you to, planned and spontaneous times of fun and enjoyment are a key part of the life of an Oikos.
Which comes more naturally to you or those in your community – purpose or play?
Which way do you need to redress the balance?
(Image courtesy of The University of Chicago Magazine February 1996)