By Donald P. Ames
Recently I sat down in the study to spend an afternoon getting out our weekly bulletin. I selected the material I thought would be effective to put therein, typed the stencils, justified the margins, proof-read them, made any necessary corrections, and then finished them to be ready to run off. I proceeded downstairs to the mimeograph room and ran off pages I and 4. 1 then flipped the pages over, changed the stencil, and proceeded with pages 2 and 3. About half way through, I glanced down and was shocked to see only white, blank pages coming out! (It seems I must have been about half asleep and had put the cover on the machine rather than the stencil, so naturally nothing was coming out. Sheepishly, I changed back to the stencil, and did the job correctly.)
As I rebuked myself for my stupidity, it also got me to thinking about this very article, and how much of our time and effort is for naught because we don’t really put forth the full effort necessary. For instance, how many congregations will decide to have a gospel meeting, select a “good preacher,” print up announcements to be passed out, run an ad in the local paper, etc. Then when the meeting gets here, members fail to mention it to their friends, fail to even bother to support it themselves, and maybe even complain about how “tired” they are? All that good effort, study, preaching, and expense for naught because we really weren’t that interested in a good meeting in the first place!
Some congregations mail out their bulletin (sorry, we at Emerson Ave. do not). The permit, mailing costs, work and effort amount to quite a bit. Still, some of the bulletins that cross my desk are so sloppy, crowded and poorly laid out that they simply slide into the trash, hardly even being looked at. Some are completely full of nothing but local assignments for the day’s activities (i.e., who’s to wait on the Lord’s table, who is the usher, etc.). Really now, why spend all that time and money to mail all that out to people who aren’t even going to be there, or maybe don’t even live anywhere around there? It takes up a lot of space, fills the pages; but is of no benefit to any but those in attendance. Why not fix an insert instead, then mail out a bulletin that can teach. Don’t make a lot of effort for naught. (And some bulletins are excellent – I can’t hardly wait to get them!)
Sadly, I still see many churches selecting good tracts and then not bothering to stamp the church’s address on them before putting them in the tract rack. So, after they have been removed, taken to work (school or some other location), read and set down, it is “anybody’s guess” where they came from. Someone picking one up and getting interested, could speculate for days as to where it came from and who is teaching such great truths, and never even come close to finding out. A lot of good teaching, expense, and opportunities gone for naught, because we fail to look beyond our tract rack or building.
But there are other things “for naught” to be considered also. Many times a class teacher will be busy planning the lesson all week for Sunday morning. Class begins, and some can’t “remember” where in the Bible the lesson was. Class books haven’t even been read, much less been filled out or being prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion about the class lesson. And then the late-comers trickle in and “don’t know where we are” or “what you are talking about.” And so we again review for their benefit. Yes, it is sad that all the work done to prepare a good lesson was for naught. So much more could be accomplished if we all tried to plan and cooperate better.
The preacher studies and plans his lessons to try to teach God’s word. He selects what he feels is needed and will help them in their studies and growth. And some will listen thank God for such. Some sleep or nod throughout the lesson. Some will whisper, visit, draw, or play with the kids (distracting often the very ones the preacher is trying to reach). The lesson is finished, and few may even remember the major points – a lot of work for naught.
I’m sure you also get the idea, can can make a lot of other applications of your own (and by the way this is not true of Emerson Ave., but I am speaking in generalities). If we are going to put forth the effort, let’s all join in and do our best to do it right so the intended goal may be achieved (Rom. 12:7-8). Let’s not let all the effort be “much ado for naught”!
Then again, as I think about it, another good lesson to come out of this incident might be one of inattention, or one on over-confidence. Now let me see. Hmm.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 12, p. 372
June 21, 1990