Two weeks ago I asked the question, “Is the vision of Wellspring an ‘elusive dream’?” We are fighting the gravitational pull of a majority culture way of doing church. Similarly in marriage one partner’s consistent insistence on their own way may prevail but will lead to resentment or conflict. These differences must be negotiated with neither compromise (everyone giving up a little to find a happy medium) nor taking turns (we’ll do it your way today and mine tomorrow) but agreement — agreeing on and developing a third way, our way. Similarly at Wellspring we must create our third way, our culture together. The key? Boring repetition.
James K. A. Smith notes:
There is no formation without repetition. Virtue formation takes practice, and there is no practice that isn’t repetitive. We willingly embrace repetition as a good in all kinds of other sectors of our life— to hone our golf swing, our piano prowess, and our mathematical abilities, for example. If the sovereign Lord has created us as creatures of habit, why should we think repetition is inimical to our spiritual growth.*
And what forms us? Boring and repetitive rituals. And for boring and repetitive rituals, we have to show up, day in and day out, week in and week out. Daniel Darling talks about how boring church services changed his life.** We are often looking for dynamic and creative and different, but we are most deeply formed by the ordinary and mundane.
The biggest challenge to boring repetition is our desire for the dynamic and different. Church used to compete with three channels on television and watching the grass grow. Today church competes with three thousand channels on television, 644 million websites, and a partridge in a pear tree! Yet people are lonelier than ever because shared commitment to boring repetition creates community; individual consumption of personal preference destroys community. And I fear that community is destroyed by personal preferences.
Yet a commitment to boring repetition will move the needle in creating culture at Wellspring.
I want us to pay attention to the type of culture that we are creating at Wellspring. A year ago we spent considerable time discerning the values that we are called to at Wellspring:
- God’s Word: we live according to the Word of God
- Prayer: we seek God’s face and see God’s hand at work
- Community: we can be real and belong together in Christ
- Diversity: we love and honor one another in our differences
- Discipleship: we are transformed as we follow Jesus
- Mission: we are all sent on God’s mission to redeem all things
As these values are translated into concrete practices, this will create a current of culture, a whirlpool, that can pull others into the unique work that God is calling us toward at Wellspring.
And culture is created together. In a family one person who opts out of an activity — whether a game night, a movie, a meal, or a vacation — irrevocably changes the dynamic of the entire gathering. Similarly in a church when an individual opts out of a home group, a prayer gathering, or a meeting, then the dynamic for everyone else changes.
But when people opt in with enthusiasm, then the current rises. Let us consider little ways to step in to God’s calling for us at Wellspring, and let us do it together. Instead of reading through the Bible by ourselves, let us share with another how God’s Word is giving insight in the challenges of our lives. Instead of praying alone, let us gather together to pray through to see breakthrough of the power of God together. Instead of wallowing in a feeling of isolation, let us invite someone else to belong. This is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25)
What is one way that you can step into this?
* James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos, 2016), 82.
** Daniel Darling, “Boring Church Services Changed My Life,” https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2017/february-web-exclusives/boring-church-services-changed-my-life.html?utm_source=buildingchurchleaders&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=22379819&utm_content=628910993&utm_campaign=email.