One pastor once said that he plans “one habit to stop, and one habit to start every year. So I started doing the same, starting a few years ago.
I’ve always wanted to drink more water, but it still felt like a cumbersome routine. But last year, I decided to drink 2L of water a day, and the thing I did differently was to get a 2L bottle and fill it up every morning. I knew from experience that getting up to get more water in the middle of work was the main friction point preventing me from drinking more water. Except for a few days, I ended up doing it last year. I felt better and more energetic than before, and I can comfortably say it is part of my daily habit now. A small tweak in my routine immensely helped me to experience a significant change.
In the same way, every year, I try to change one or two things in our church service. As service format remains pretty much the same for a year, you can call it a “habit” or “routine” for our communal worship. As it is our routine, one or two tweaks are often necessary and beneficial for people to experience God differently and better understand the message.
What will change this year is “scripture reading.” I had an ambivalent feeling about scripture reading as many modern churches don’t do scripture reading. But watching some other thriving churches that do it and do it well, I am beginning to see greater importance of this practice. Apostle Paul also admonishes his prodigy Timothy to “devote himself to public reading of scripture.” (1 Timothy 4:13) With this change, offering time will move after scripture reading, not before, to avoid me going in and out before the sermon.
I have been leading the scripture reading, but Pastor Anthony will begin to lead the time from this year. I believe having the scripture read through a different voice will add freshness to our service. How we respond will change as well. We will stop saying, “All people said, Amen.” When Pastor Anthony finishes the reading with, “This is the Word of the Lord,” please respond with “Thanks be to God.” Though non-Christians don’t have to believe it is as the Word of God, Christians’ confession of faith and decision is to receive as so, with gratitude.