The business world seems to be more and more obsessed with tracking metadata. Metadata, if you don’t already know, is data about data. For example, a digital image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, the shutter speed, and other data. A text document’s metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document. Metadata within web pages can also contain descriptions of page content, as well as key words linked to the content.
Mostly, these days, though, metadata is used to track how many people have visited a website in a certain period of time, how much time they spent on that website, and whether or not they purchased something.
It is a quick and easy what to discover who your customer is and what they are doing.
It occurs to me that metadata has, in effect, caused us to reduce products and people into numbers. Metadata does not tell us what a product does or what a book says. Metadata does not relate to us the personalities and daily events of a person’s life.
Reducing people down to numbers is scary to me and something we should try to avoid at all costs within the church. Church leaders often bemoan the fact that worship attendance may be down or that fewer children are in Sunday school. But to me looking at the church solely by a downturn in numbers unintentionally can discount the good work of the Lord that is still occurring among those who are still in the pews and are involved in Sunday school classes.
Looking only at spreadsheets in the church is never better than simply spreading the Word.
Accounting for finances alone is never better than accounting for the souls of those who love the Lord.
Keeping track of metadata is important only if it stays in the background and is used as a support system for the metamorphoses that are taking place in the lives of those who are growing in their Christian faith.