I had an intriguing conversation with someone about lockdown this morning. As readers will know, I’ve argued that it makes little sense to require even stricter lockdown measures for those already under strict measures whilst those not under the same level of restriction continue without any change. I’ve particular focused on the way that schools have very little by way of social distancing in place whilst churches and shops do.
This led to someone insisting that schools needed to stay open because education is essential whilst churches and religion don’t belong in the 21st Century. Now, I’m not so interested in the apologetic questions raised here although it slightly amused me that they as an atheist were insisting on the importance of opening a special building as the necessary place for the essential activity. Nor am I planning to rehearse the arguments in favour and against the specific lockdown approach. However this does get us thinking about an important issue.
You see, over the past few months, we’ve heard about the importance of getting our schools open. Having them open and having all children back has become so important that it overrides other concerns. Yet, is that what really needs to happen? Surely the priority is not to keep school buildings open but to ensure that children receive an effective education. If the latter, then we will think about innovate ways in which students can receive a high quality education.
So often we lose sight of what really matters. We focus on keeping our traditions going whilst forgetting the purpose they serve. We worry about our buildings and our organisational structures and we measure how well we are doing by how many ministries we run, how many employees we have, how much money we have in the bank and how many people attend our churches. If we are church planting, we measure how many churches we have started. Yet all of those are negotiable inputs. Just as what really matters when it comes to schools is whether or not children are receiving the quality of education they need, what really matters in the Church is whether or not we are seeing disciples made.
Let’s focus less on maintaining our structures and traditions. Let’s stop measuring and seeking to control the wrong things. Instead let’s focus on making disciples.