Two considerations are essential if you are to understand my spirit in the following statements. First, I truly appreciate this truth: no one's life is ideal. Everyone, you included, can list factually a number of legitimate frustrations that frequently are a part of your life. You can do that with no intent of being negative. You can do that merely by sharing facts truthfully. The matter I ask you to consider is not in the spirit of griping or complaining. I am merely sharing a fact that too often is hurtful to us all as a congregation.

Second, I have no desire to be self-serving. This is not a call to "please humor me." I want us as the body of Christ, as a community of believers to encourage our congregation's growth toward Christ's dream for us.

The concern: it is extremely difficult to keep Christians in this body informed. That challenge certainly is not unique to this congregation. Most active groups (business, social, non-profit, or religious) struggle with the challenge of keeping its employees, supporters, members, or volunteers informed.

Within congregations, this challenge increases for many reasons. (1) Congregations are primarily volunteer associations. (2) Some within congregations make artificial separations between the "secular" and "spiritual." Some function on this motivation: "I go to church to be religious, not to be informed or to be involved." (3) Some have this primary attitude: "When something fails to meet my approval, I will go somewhere else." (4) The concept of "church" is too often associated with an institution, not a whole life existence. (5) Some stay so busy with "life" they do not have time to "keep up with what is going on at church." For those reasons (and others) some choose to be uninformed.

We make a lot of effort to inform members. Among those efforts are written announcements on the screen, family meetings, a web site, e-mailings, newsletters, mailouts, and group meetings dedicated to particular works and events. Yet, many remain poorly informed.

In some ways, we have trained and encouraged many to be uninformed. Unless we hear a verbal announcement on Sunday morning, too many do not "hear." A congregation that is constantly growing closer to God's ideal and Jesus' dream is composed of members who want to be informed. They understand that God's family of believers, from the beginning, functioned as a community who cared about each other.

Make a promise to yourself, and keep your promise to you. Do the things only you can do to be informed, not as a gossip, but a living, caring member of God's community. The better informed each of us is, the more blessed our congregation is. We are committed to improving the sharing of information. Commit yourself to staying informed. And when you know things we need to know, please, please call us.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 13 January 2002

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