Why is it that we in the Church, especially we in the Church who are young, are so opposed to the word, “habit,” as it applies to worship and service to God. It seems to me that we often speak ill of habit where it exists within the Church. When our worship style is too similar too often we deem it habitual and therefore in need of change. As we mature in life and in the faith and don’t get the same emotional “tingly” responses as when we were younger we feel like worship or Bible study has become a habit and feel that something is wrong.
Now, don’t misunderstand the direction of this. Anyone who knows me well knows how I feel churches in general and in specificity are in need of great changes. I believe change and growth should be part of the culture of a church. Churches should change and grow in order to meet the needs of their members, their community, and their world.
But, there is merit to habit. In our desire to be missional and in our tendency to want to change all that was and is and isn’t to come, we must not neglect the positive aspects of habits.
My contingency is that we need more habit within the church. There is the general knowledge that is easy enough to observe for yourself that habits are hard to form and easy to break. If any aspect of worshipping and serving has become habitual; then praise God this instant, for that means that you have expended some good deal of time and energy worshipping and serving God. If these things have truly become habitual then it means you have progressed to a point in the faith where service and worship are a natural outflow of your life! Even if you may feel bored, even if you don’t feel the same visceral responses to worship and service, be encouraged, you are growing, you are maturing! If anything your complacency with your habit of service and worship is a call to even greater service and worship!
So many are not in the habit of the most simple aspects of obedient faith, such as just attending Church, participating in the life of the body, reading the Bible, praying, reaching out to the lost and needy, etc.
Sometimes it is the established habit of these spiritual and church disciplines that helps us persevere when we least feel like it. If we do not have the good habits of showing up on Sunday mornings, serving in the body of Christ, doing devotionals, praying, serving the needs of others, then all too often when we feel tired, or sick, or get busy it is exactly these things that get lost in the shuffle. Sunday football games, work, kids’ activities, community commitments, all get their allotted time, but these spiritual habits get left behind, to be pursued when things are less hectic or stressful or tiring. Truly, too few followers of Christ have habits that reflect their belief.
We need more people who are in the habit of worship and service who are dependable and can be counted on to serve the church and the kingdom. We need more followers of Christ who show up to Church every Sunday to worship and who habitually live life on mission and who habitually live out spiritual disciplines. Over time, in the life of the true believer, these habits lead not to boredom or dull, lifeless repetition but to a dynamic faith.
Maybe a differentiation needs to be made between lifeless habits and dynamic habits. There are those within the church who go about lifeless habits. They go to church and serve a little, but there is little life to their actions. Real habits of faith lead to dynamic lives which truly affect the Kingdom of God.
May we be about the formation of dynamic habits. Truly, life with Christ is habit forming. Once you experience its incommunicable depth, you keep coming back. May we be people who worship and serve in such quantity and quality that to worship and serve is habitual.
Reflect today upon what is habitual in your life. What does it reflect? What spiritual and church habits are you passing to your family and friends?