When our girls were growing up, one of their favorite shows was “The Big Comfy Couch.” As I remember the show, it always started and ended with the main character sitting in an oversized couch. She looked so content and happy. I have a comfy couch, too. I love it because I feel so safe and secure there. I don’t have to deal with challenges or face any struggles when I am sitting on my comfy couch.
But I have to be careful. If I get too settled there on my couch, I won’t be able to keep learning and growing as God’s child. As we serve in our various ministries, we all need to watch out for “comfy couch syndrome”. It comes in various forms, but mainly shows itself in the sameness of how we accomplish our work. Maybe it involves not being open to changing the Sunday morning format because the way we are doing things works just fine. It may mean following the same format for the women’s retreat year after year. Comfy couch syndrome could also involve using the same forms or notices year after year without deciding if any of the information needs to be changed or updated. This sameness feels so safe and comfy. But this sameness also means we might be caught in status quo ministry. Sadly, our ministries will not thrive if we maintain this approach.
To keep ourselves from staying on the comfy couch too long, we need to have healthy habits that help our ministry thrive. Healthy habits can be placed in two broad categories: practicing spiritual disciplines and striving to create a change-friendly community for volunteers, members, and staff.
First, the spiritual disciplines involve deepening our faith through Bible study, prayer, journaling, solitude or quiet time, worship, fellowship, and service. Through the study of God’s Word, we learn more about our God and Savior. While in prayer and stillness, we are able to seek our God and the Holy Spirit’s direction as we serve. As we gather with other Christians for worship, fellowship, and service, we strengthen one another as the Body of Christ. These practices are a critical part of keeping our ministry focused on service to our Savior, not on ourselves or our plans.
Secondly, a healthy habit in ministry is to be welcoming to change. Volunteers, members, and staff should be continually encouraged to dedicate themselves to problem solving, persistence amidst challenging situations, and an openness to new ideas. This also means that we are in the habit of asking tough questions about ourselves and our ministry. This process involves deciding when to keep events and activities that are successful, but also being ready to make changes to them when needed. After successful events and programs, leaders should continue to look for ways to improve knowing that doing things exactly the same year after year is not an option.
So, are you suffering from comfy couch syndrome? To be honest, I know I have to guard myself against status quo ministry because I do like that cozy, secure place. But I also know that exciting growth happens when I go beyond my comfort zone and practice healthy ministry habits.
As the new year begins, I am going to keep working on these healthy habits. What about you?