The Need for a Spiritual Reset, Part I

“Honey, my computer is doing this weird thing, it’s really slow and this window keeps popping up,” said my lovely wife on the phone. I was 1,600 miles away on a trip, being asked to fix a computer I couldn’t see. At some point my advice was “turn it off and then back on again.”

In other words, reset.

I was doing the preflight inspection on a McDonell Douglas MD-11. We were getting all sorts of strange warnings on cockpit displays and nothing seemed to remedy it. We called the mechanics, they saw all the confusing indications and decided to “take all the power off and then back on again.”

In other words, reset.

Captain Lou looked back at me as we flew together one dark and bumpy December night. We were pounding through some pretty strong turbulence and ice was building up on the windshield wipers. “Best $150 I ever spent Stevo!” I was confused, we hadn’t been talking about buying anything up til that moment. “I’m sorry Lou, what are talking about?” Lou beamed his big toothy grin, “Marriage counseling! Best $150 ever!”

In other words, reset.

The Reset Concepts

Without getting into too much detail on electronics or computers, the reset or reboot is a helpful process. It is often a means of taking something that is out-of-sync and not working well and returning it to its neutral or optimum operating setting. With computers and even newer computerized aircraft, the reset can clear out some unhelpful or cluttered computer language that is causing serious problems. It is a way of returning to what may be called a null or centered position.

For my friend Lou the marriage counseling helped him and his dear sweetheart clear out some anger, misunderstanding, and hurt—it allowed them to get back to the center of their union, loving one another in a meaningful way. It kept them together and brought purpose and joy back into a their relationship.

The reset is often essential to enabling success in any worthwhile endeavor.

The Need for a Spiritual Reset

We live in interesting times. Social media and affordable websites, along with self-publishing, has given a public platform for just about anyone to express their discontent about church, religion, and spirituality. There have been blogs, books, and videos decrying what is “wrong” with the followers of Christ and suggesting fixes.

There are certainly some problems with the church of our Lord—and this is entirely biblical. Much of the writings of the Apostles in the New Testament spend a good portion of time dealing with issues amongst believers. We can take a couple of lessons from this.

First, if you are part of or visit a church family and there seems to be some issues that you perceive are not Christlike (or violate Scriptural principle), then that is potentially the mark of a biblical church. This is not an effort to minimize the errors, but just a way of encouraging all to recognize that the grace of Jesus is not something just needed due to our individual sins, but also for our sins as an ecclesia. I doubt any church family will ever be perfect in their doctrine and manner of living out their faith.

Second, all of us (myself included, as well as the various other people pointing out problem areas) need to be humble in our assessments. Are we daring to suggest that we have all the answers and the capability to produce a perfect church?

A good friend of mine who is a serious student of the Bible shared, “The more we learn about the Bible the humbler we should be.”

My wife and I homeschooled out kids all the way through High School graduation—we saw a number of homeschoolers start churches. Now homeschoolers in our day were a pretty confident lot and believed to an extent that since they were doing school “the right way” that our children would turn out to be awesome followers of God and the best citizens ever seen.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

But that same critical and overconfident attitude led to a few deciding that not only would we engage in perfect schooling but establish a perfect church as well.

It worked about as well as the perfect school idea—none of the churches lasted very long. They failed, I perceive, because of a false conceptualization of what church is to be. We need to reset our hearts about what Yeshua intended his bride to be.

False Church Reset Ideas

My own church leadership did a whole-family survey asking where our members perceived us to be and where we should be. They specifically asked for ideas about how to get us from where we were to where we should be. The participation was substantial—we had respondents from the pre-teen years to senior citizens.

The good side of the responses was that everyone loved each other—our elders, preachers, ministry-leaders, and each other. On the other side, something I also perceived as being very good, we were not content to stay where we were. We wanted to bring more glory to our Lord, and wanted to see our church have more impact and grow.

But much of the suggested change had to do with how we do formal worship and/or how we draw people into our church family.

Many of the “formal worship” ideas (a pretty big concept in my faith tradition—but not biblical. The New Testament doesn’t really delineate a concept of “formal” worship) had to do with making our worship more trendy, exciting, useful, relevant, or upbeat. This was all with the desire to align the worship with what makes some individuals feel more spiritual and also was seen as a way to attract people into our services.

Of course, my time with my church family is not to be centered on making me feel spiritual. I mean heck, I am a spiritual creature in a temporary physical body. Whether or not I feel that is not the problem of my church family, nor is it the purpose of our coming together.

Getting psyched up through exciting music, a light show, or a powerful self-help motivational sermon is not the reality the Bible teaches. Romans 12:1-2 does not say “I appeal to you by the mercies of God to go to a place with a highly enjoyable concert and trendy, authentic-appearing speaker, which is your spiritual worship. Psych yourself up and try to do better after the concert…”.

No, quite the opposite.

Instead of seeking to find a “worship-style” that caters to our preferences, we are called to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice…which is your spiritual worship.” In other words, worship is not “me” sensitive—it is a coming into the presence of God himself along with some of his children. If drawing into a stronger awareness of the indwelling God isn’t enough for you—there is something wrong. You may claim to be worshipping the dread Sovereign Lord of the Universe, but perhaps you are worshipping an idol that looks like you?

Worship is also going out into the world in the place where God has put us and serving him in whatever opportunities he puts in our path (Or, more likely, he puts us on the path to where he is already working.

Also, just so you know, not only is “psyching-up” not biblical—it just doesn’t work. At least not for long. I tried it for many years before I figured out that what Romans 12:2 says about being transformed by the renewing of the mind actually meant. More on that in a later post.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m fine with differing forms of “worship” and I look forward to being with my church family every week to sing, hear something from the Word, pray, and take communion.

But we do need to realize that as church goes that is only one part of our worship. And if that seems surprising, that is why we need a reset.

On the other hand I have visited congregations where the guitar and drums were so loud that I couldn’t hear the words to the song. There was smoke, lights, and the crowd was on their feet the whole time. We were apparently singing along with some spiritual words on a screen—but it was gruelingly loud, and the attention seemed to be not that we were either singing praise to God or encouragement to one another—but the focus was on the show on stage.

I have heard some very stirring sermons that could have been taken out of any secular self-help book—they had little or no Scripture and were basically about using God to improve our lives.

Perhaps that feels good but it isn’t at all transforming us into an image of the Christ.

We need a reset, but from this discussion is it clear where the reset needs to begin?

Reset Me…

It wasn’t long after the church survey I mentioned earlier that I was invited to speak at a church on the topic of “Does the Church Need to Change?”

I actually had a few weeks to prepare—but as I thought about it prayerfully the message from the Spirit was clear—painfully clear.

Yes, my church needs to change.

The very first thing that needs to change is me.


I had spent a lot of time preaching and teaching about how to talk to others, tactics in disarming arguments, sharing your faith—it all was good stuff.

But I realized that when I was at my day job I had ceased actually doing very much of this.

So as I prepared that lesson on what needed to change…I made a vow before God about something I was going to change for the following six weeks before that sermon.

It was amazing, and I share with you my change process in Part II of this series.

(Image by Pazargic Liviu/Shutterstock)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *