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Churches, not Boris, must decide to be open or closed

December 2020 | by Mike Judge

As this editorial went to press, the closure of churches in England was still in force. Our sincere hope and prayer is that, by the time you read this, they will be open again. Regardless of where you may stand on the justification for the second coronavirus lockdown, as evangelicals we must surely all agree that Christ, not Boris, is head of the church.

Whether your church thought it necessary to close its doors or not, it ought to be a decision that is taken by churches themselves. Elders are the ones who will ultimately give an account to Christ for how they have led the church. If they closed, they must be clear in their own minds it was the right thing to do. They cannot simply say, ‘we were following the government guidance.’

We must also be mindful of the trouble we may be creating for ourselves in future years. As the former Prime Minister Theresa May so rightly said, this government may have the best of intentions, but we must take care not to set a precedent that could be used by future governments with the worst of intentions.

The closure of churches in the second lockdown certainly shows just how irrelevant we are to the ruling elites. Yes, Downing Street can see our worth if we are proving a foodbank. But not if we are preaching the bread of life. The chief scientists, when asked by a committee of MPs whether worship was an essential service, smirked and said that is a theological question. Indeed it is. But the smirk spoke volumes.

Churches in England will, no doubt, come to different decisions about the second lockdown. Sincere believers may hold various views with good conscience. But each church must make that decision for themselves, not allow the government to make it for them.