Here's a rather intersting statement I came across the other day on one of my forums:
"We have kind of an odd problem here at our church. Our traditional service is stuck in a rut. We would like to spice it up somehow, and do something different once in a while, but we just don't know how to do it without making it Contemporary. It's just the same thing every week."
I've come across this statement (not exactly this statement, but several just like it) many times. For some reason, this time it really struck me as odd.
My first thought was, this really is not an odd problem...it's a problem that I consider to be prevelant in most US churches.
My second thought was, isn't this statement, "Our traditional service is stuck in a rut" a bit repetitive? I mean, the whole purpose of a tradition is to surround people with the things that they are familiar with, make them comfortable, keep them from experiencing things fresh and new...that's what I would define as a rut. Let's face it, the moment you start doing something different and new, it becomes something untraditional.
I've decided that I don't like the term "traditional" when refering to a worship service, and I will never use the term "traditional service" again in our church. If we ever do a "traditional service" again, we will call it something like "vintage" or "old school". There's nothing wrong with having traditions and using them to worship God...every church has traditions, and in fact, I would argue that if your church does something more than 2 or 3 times in a short period of time, it will become a tradition in the mind of somebody in your church. The problem comes in when we begin to allow our traditions to dictate our worship.
But, to have a "traditional service" is basically setting yourself up for having rutty worship. In most people's (Christians) minds, "traditional" means that you're going to do things the way you've always done them, or at least the way you used to do them before you went all "contemporary" on them. Traditional gives people the expectation that you're not going to force anything new or out-of-the-box on them. Traditional assures people that they can come to church knowing what is going to happen (which IMO means that most people come to churchsimply ready to go through the motions).
The person who made the statement above finished be asking, "Any interesting call to worships, prayers, or other suggestions (to help us spice things up)?
My only suggestion was to drop "traditional" from the title of the service.
Read Isaiah 29, esp. vs 13-14 to get an idea of what God says about traditions and rituals in worship.