By Matt Damico from The Gospel Coalition
Variety may be the spice of life, but it’s not the substance.
And yet, given the way many of us evaluate the worship services at our churches, you’d think novelty was an essential mark of a healthy church.
The pull toward something “fresh” is understandable since your church’s worship service probably looks similar week-to-week. There’s singing, prayer, Scripture reading, a sermon. Throw in the Lord’s Supper, a benediction, a baptism, and maybe a couple other things, and you have the elements of most liturgies. The order may be flexible, but there’s consistency in what happens each week.
So, maybe it’s unavoidable to think on occasion, “Don’t we do this every week? Can we mix it up a little bit? Don’t we want it to stay fresh?”
We would do well in those moments to remember that the weekly routines we repeat in corporate worship by faith are doing far more than we can see or feel. When we know that, as we gather with the church, we may learn to see repetition as something to embrace rather than endure.
Repetition Is the Point
We all recognize the value of repetition in some areas. Consider a few examples.
If you’ve ever learned an instrument, you know that the way to learn it is to practice scales over and over until your fingers know the way. I haven’t played trumpet in almost twelve years, but the fingerings are still engrained in my mind and my hands.
Or, to borrow an illustration from James K.A. Smith, think about learning to drive. When you got your license, you had to think about every little maneuver: the blinker, the pedals, the mirrors, and all the rest. Now you could daydream through your entire commute without once consciously reflecting on your driving (please don’t, though).