A friend of mine was investigating his home heating system. It was making a terrible squeaking noise. Fearing a fan motor that was going bad he dissected the necessary components, cleaned them, put them back together and then hit the power switch.
Pilot would not lite. Fan would not come on. No hum. No noise. Nothing.
Concerned that he must have missed some detail he repeated the cleaning process another time or two. Same result: nothing.
In the dead of winter this is not good; so, he called a technician to diagnose the problem and offer a solution. When the technician arrived he reached around the side of the fan motor where the reset button was located. He pushed the button. Suddenly, everything fired up. Problem solved…except he was still needing a new motor. The terrible noise was back.
With computers we call them reboots: “If all else fails, reboot!”
Modems and routers, power tools and electric motors…many appliances have reset or reboot buttons. Why? Well, sometimes commands get crossed, power brown-outs or surges occur and the engineers build in a simple mechanism that shorts out before the motor or appliance is destroyed; the computer reboots to straighten out software conflicts or memory overloads. It is a means of putting everything back on track and to protect more expensive components from destructive overloads.
Life is filled with resets or reboots as well. Personally, we need new year resolutions to help kick us off the couch and into healthier living. New days offer new opportunities to change routines, alter bad behavior patterns, create new opportunities or to simply settle down and center our lives to face new challenges.
Many changes we can do on our own, privately. Other changes may require another friend with whom to confide, to hold us accountable, to give us alternative ideas or suggestions or to just listen as we work through our own thoughts and feelings to get motivated. Some changes are best made in a group setting with others to cheer us on as we reboot aspects of our lives to lose weight, stop a bad habit or instill a new value that changes the priorities of our lives.
The truth is that rebooting or resetting seems to be a consistent reality in all areas of life. From the changing of the seasons to the circle of life there are times when it is good to start over, to refresh and to give it another shot.
So, it shouldn’t surprise us that churches must reboot as well. Patterns that once held great meaning can become cold, formalized traditions devoid of the life that once inspired them. In the Bible the church is often referred to the ‘body of Christ’ (e.g., Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12) which, in itself, implies that change is not only important but also critical to life. A body that does not grow or repair itself or that cannot adapt to environmental changes will eventually fail. What is needed is an occasional ‘reboot’ to assess, change and launch.
Carrying the body metaphor a little further, there are some things that a body must have to survive such as oxygen, water, nutrition, etc. Securing those necessities according to the simple Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs opens the door to change and adaptation; i.e., growth. So also, the church. The basic needs of the church include an anchoring in Scripture and devoting to the centrality of Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).
Secured in these necessities churches must necessarily pause and reboot occasionally to change as needed to both internal and external challenges and opportunities. This is as it should be. Indeed, this imperative in the life of the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 9:22) must also be present in the church. This is where followers of the Jesus Christ of the Scriptures come together to reboot as the body of Christ to worship and to encourage each other to obey His commands in ever-changing ways.