I often hear pastors and theologians disparaging new expressions of faith. They push back against new songs, new prayers, and new church structures. The sentiment is that being relevant or new compromises the gospel, which is rooted in the time-tested way of doing things. With that in mind, I found this quote about heuristic bias (that tendency to think the way we’ve always thought or do things the way we’ve always done them) fascinating:
I read a fascinating study a few years ago that suggested people stop thinking about the lyrics of a song after singing it thirty times…
“These people say they are mine,” God complained. “They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” God doesn’t want to be lip-synced. He wants to be worshiped.
When we worship out of memory, it must sound to God like a broken record. Maybe that’s why the psalms exhort us no fewer than six times to sing a new song. We need new words, new postures, new thoughts, and new feelings. pg. 59 Batterson, Wild Goose Chase
This makes sense to me. When I engage in worship, I want to mean what I’m doing, and sometimes singing the same song over and over again inhibits that. I also think the same sermon with the same application point can have the same effect. Changing things up in intentionally fresh ways can enhance our worship.
At the moment, I have ironically found this new expression of worship through praying really old prayers. For a long time, I’ve prayed extemporaneously — this is the evangelical way. Praying rote ‘traditional’ prayers has been a refreshing new faith experience for me. These old prayers have provided a powerfully new faith encounter for me. I affirm the desire for new expressions of the faith, and I encourage those who feel likewise to look at some of the old traditions of the church for new ways of doing things.