Here are four realities for almost every church:
1. During COVID, you lost some families.
2. During COVID, some families drifted away in terms of commitment and involvement.
3. During COVID, you gained many new families, but they remain largely online.
4. After COVID, your current in-person attendance is running at about half or less than it was pre-COVID.
All of which means there is a fifth reality for almost every church:
5. Here, at the end of COVID and the reopening of the world, you need to reboot your church.
I chose the term “reboot” purposefully as I believe it really is the most appropriate word. A reboot is different than just returning to in-person events. That’s just turning on the lights and opening the doors as if nothing happened. But during the last 15 months, some things did happen. No church just reopened their doors and went right back to the way things were before. Why? Because we need a lot more than a reopening.
We need a reboot.
A reboot is more purposeful, more intentional, more systemic than a reopening. In computing terms, rebooting is:
“The process by which a running computer system is restarted, either intentionally or unintentionally. Reboots can be either cold (alternatively known as hard), in which the power to the system is physically turned off and back on again causing an initial boot of the machine, or warm (or soft) in which the system restarts without the need to interrupt the power. The term restart is used to refer to a reboot when the operating system closes all programs and finalizes all pending input and output operating before initiating a soft reboot.”
Or think of it this way: A hard reboot “means that the system is not shut down in an orderly manner, skipping file system synchronization and other activities that would occur on an orderly shutdown.” A soft reboot, or restart, is when “the operating system ensures that all pending I/O operations are gracefully ended before commencing a reboot.”
There was nothing graceful about the onset of COVID, just as there is nothing as simple or easy as a soft restart at its end. It was a hard, cold shutdown, and we now face a hard, cold reboot.