What’s your response to the word routine? For many, the word routine has become a word used synonymously with “boring,” “lame,” or “predictable.”
But let’s not miss the strengths that routine brings to the table.
Now, I’m not one to get stuck anywhere doing anything (ask those I work with about my chronic furniture rearranging). But I also recognize that in ministry, a sense of “sameness” has just an important a place in the lives of our students as changes and newness do. Several months ago, a high school student who had fallen off the map showed up at our student worship service one Sunday morning. As soon as the service concluded, he made a beeline to me and told me emphatically, “Oh man, I’ve so missed this. I’m so glad I came back. I really need this.”
What was the “this” he was referring to?
I’d submit to you that it was at least partly a deep sense of familiarity he was remembering; it was an inner “Aaaah, this feels like home” vibe that he was drawn to. He had been faithful in the past, had disappeared for a number of months and had returned to the “routine” he once knew. And he hasn’t left since. In fact, he’s grown into a powerful influencer among his peers. Other things that routine offers your ministry:
Routine gives us a chance to establish report with students.
Routine forms the basis of a place of comfort and common ground to stand on. It’s from there that we can move, but it’s also from there that we start.
Routine offers students a place where they can feel secure.
I’m all for shaking things up and keeping things fresh, but I also believe that students crave a sense of security, especially when they’re not experiencing it at home, at school, or in other places.
Routine builds our credibility.
I want to be careful here. I’m not advocating simply setting programs in place and letting rigor mortis set in. Of course not. Evaluation of our effectiveness is vital. And if we need to change, we need to change! But as we lead with flexibility mixed with consistency, we grow in students’ (and parents’) perception that we are someone to rely on, and that we’re not going anywhere.
So, two questions to consider:
- Where does routine (the good kind) fit into your ministry context?
- And when the negative routine sets in, how do you most commonly break out of it without abandoning all familiarity?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!