A few years ago, my computer froze about an hour before I was going to preach. I lost all my sermon notes. For about 30 minutes, I panicked. Fortunately, a computer whiz on my staff saved about a third of my message. Although not the entire sermon, it was quite helpful.
But my computer had been sluggish for a while before this emergency. Finally, it just stopped working because too many programs were clogging up the system. At that point, all I could do was hit the reset button. My computer needed a fresh start.
Our churches need a fresh start sometimes, too. We live in a complicated world. Our ministries can get more complicated than we intended. When that happens, we need a clean slate.
January 1 isn’t a magical date on the calendar that makes your reset easier, but it can be a natural time to begin. But you have some prep work to do before you get started. Here are four actions every church needs to take before making a reset.
- Start asking God to do something new in your ministry. When you ask God to do something new in your church, rest assured that new is a part of Jesus’ job description: “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5 NIV). Jesus transforms lives and churches by doing something new all the time.
Spend some time praying with other leaders in your church for Jesus to change your church. Any change you want God to do in your church starts with prayer. Pray it repeatedly so God knows you’re serious about the change.
- Pinpoint specifically what needs to change. Nothing becomes transformational until it becomes specific. You don’t just say, “God, I want you to change our church.” The next question from God will be, “Change what?” You can’t change a generality.
Do you want God to change your church culture? Do you want him to give your congregants a passion to reach your neighbors? Does your worship service need to better reflect the people you’re trying to reach?
The more specific you are about what you want God to change in your church, the easier it will be for God to help you do it.
By the way, every church has something new that Jesus needs to do in their midst. No perfect churches exist.
- Find some people to support the reset. You can’t make important changes in your church on your own. Of course, you need the support of other leaders in your church and your congregation as a whole. But you also need support from leaders outside of your church.
God has wired us so that we need the support of other people. That requires humility. As long as you think you can do it on your own, you’ll struggle. The Bible tells us why in Ecclesiastes 4:12—“An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break” (NCV).
When you’re trying to tackle a major change in your church, it’s easy to feel defeated. You need other leaders who can encourage you when you feel like giving up. Community is God’s antidote to discouragement, defeat, and failure.
- Get rid of anything that gets in your way. Eliminate anything unhelpful or unhealthy. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back” (Hebrews 12:1 NCV). Your church may have many things that get in the way of the reset you need.
Maybe there’s an attitude you should repent of. Or maybe it’s just a bunch of extra programs that don’t move you forward in the mission God has called you to embrace. Neither is easy to eliminate. But you won’t have the reset God calls you toward until you take the step of getting rid of what’s in the way.
January 2024 could mark a monumental moment in the story God is telling through your church. Follow these four steps to prepare for your crucial reset.