When we have had scandals of late in the UK concerning children being neglected, one of the strong recommendations that has come forth, from any report into the matter, has been that all the relevant authorities should be sharing information so that all know what the situation is in the respect of someone in danger. Also it is normal that when someone transfers from being under one doctor’s practice to another then the relevant medical notes for that person are also to be transferred. In fact I, as a patient, would be significantly concerned if my new doctor did not have a full back history on me.
In both of these cases what would you call a doctor who shares information? A gossip?!?! Surely not!
Let us transfer these perspectives over into the spiritual realm. In one sense this realm is far more important because it involves the care for the spirit/the soul and not just the body. So when someone transfers membership from one church to another or someone moves from being connected with one church to being connected with another what should happen? What would you think if no information is transferred from the leadership of the first church to the other church? How would you consider this? And if information is relayed how would you consider that?
In two cases recently I have relayed information and been called a gossip as a result. So how do I respond? I have to examine my heart as to why I would share information. Two things I mention though:
- Courtesy. There is a courtesy to the other church in giving them full information. They then are prevented from taking actions which might be detrimental to their fellowship because they have full information.
- Fellowship. Fellowship between churches is important. In independent church structures we easily lose sight of this because of the emphasising of “independent” too much. Passing on information to the receiving church means that they know about any relevant situations appertaining to someone who has moved between churches. This communication can help facilitate the churches acting harmoniously together.
- Care. Out of care for the person you want to relay information. The receiving church can find out the gifts of the person. Also any help that the person needs can be given and any appropriate pastoral support provided.