May 6, 2011

Friday Is The New Thursday

Sometimes tradition trumps usefulness. Actually I suspect that happens more than 'sometimes'. This is a common enough criticism of churches. That even the most innovative churches quickly fall in to a traditional, whatever the tradition. That phenomenon is no ones fault, it just seems to happen that way.

A lot.

Truth is tradition is just easier. It is like slipping on a well worn shirt, or broken in slippers for the brain. Knowing more or less what to expect, and how to proceed is just comfortable. Our minds seem hardwired for this kind of easy thinking.

I realized I fell in to this kind of easy thinking even though it was driving me somewhat nuts. When I decided to start blogging one of the things I knew I wanted to do was to lock myself into a schedule. If I didn't I thought I would quickly give up.

So I thought twice a week schedule would give me a good feel for the craft without overwhelming me. I also figured it would be best if I not only decided on how many days I updated but which days. And when you decide you are going to do something twice a week, what days do you choose?

Tuesday and Thursday of course!

It is, tradition. Every one knows how the week is broken up; Monday/Wednesday/Friday are grouped together for the three day a week set, Tuesday/Thursday is your set of two, with Saturday/Sunday reserved for time off. Some variation is allowable for A Friday/Saturday/Sunday grouping but that really seems more for trips and vacations.

So I went with the obvious choice. I wanted to blog two days a week, and the most common two day pair is Tuesday and Thursday, Therefore I set out to blog every Tuesday and Thursday.

Never mind that Tuesday is by far my busiest day of the week for youth ministry. And never mind that Thursday is my night to help organize a small group. Such concerns were secondary to the traditional pairing of Tuesday's and Thursday's for twice a week events.

Call me trapped in tradition, call me short sighted, call me foolish, but every time I felt bogged down with all my work to do on Monday/Tuesday for youth group and write a blog it rarely occurred to me to change my blogging schedule. And on the rare occasion that it did, I always found myself thinking, 'But I blog twice a week, that means Tuesday Thursday, I'm not ready to move to a three day a week Monday, Wednesday Friday schedule!'

Now you can see the solution can't you. Had we talked about it you would have said, Christopher your being foolish just blog on Wednesday and Friday on your lightest days. Had we had that conversation I am not sure if I would have looked at you like you were crazy or brilliant.

But that is what tradition can do to us, it can blind us to obvious solutions for systemic problems. One of our deacons has the habit of reminding us that; 'the seven last words of every church is, we've never done it that way before'.

A wise reflection.

Many of us are trapped in boxes we made ourselves. Our leadership, our churches, and our ministries is locked into a tradition that is both easy and comfortable and ineffective and frustrating. We are caught in the cycle of thinking something can only be one way even though there are any number of solutions staring us in the face.

Change is never easy, rarely desirable, but it is often necessary.

Treat change like going to the dentist. Work hard a little each day, so when the big reviews come they are much less painful.

In case I was not clear enough, this blogs update schedule has
switched from every Tuesday Thursday to Every Wednesday Friday