In fifteen-plus years of ministry, I have been in many planning meetings for worship services. In all these years, I have never heard this suggestion.
“Let’s make it identical to last week!”
From the minister’s side of things, there is a desire to keep it interesting. We want the service to be engaging and compelling.
But what if those attempts actually get in the way of true engagement with God?
C.S. Lewis thought this was a real possibility.
In Letters to Malcom, Lewis writes:
Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value. And they don’t go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best – if you like, it “works” best – when, through long familiarity, we don’t have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of it; our attention would have been on God.
But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping.(Lewis, pp. 4-5)
For Lewis, it is the sameness that frees us to engage He who is truly living and dynamic. If the service itself is engaging, then we will engage the service, not God.
I think this input from Lewis should be further nuanced, but nevertheless, nuance aside, I think it is worth pondering.