Friday, February 23, 2007

Do I have to turn in my Rebel credentials?

I've been invited to join the local chapter of a Respectable International organization. I was invited to several of their meetings, then two members of the church who are also part of this group took me to lunch to give me the full court press on joining. It appears that every Pastor but one from our congregation has been a member.

I'm inclined to say yes. Not because of the sales pitch, but because I know this organization somewhat. Fifteen years ago, another chapter sent me on a young professional adult exchange to Europe for a whole month. I know they do good stuff in local communities and internationally. I also figure I'll meet people from our town that I would never meet at church or on the soccer field sidelines, the two places I seem to be spending 90% of my time lately.

Still. It feels very middle class. Like I'll need to forge a secret identity as a nude punk-rocker or something just to counter-balance the stodginess factor.

How about you all? Any of you done the Kiwanas, Rotarian, Lions Club, Optimists thing? How has it been for you? A good thing ministry-wise? Personally?


cheesehead said...

I was informed by my session recently that I WILL be a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. They hold meetings on Fridays during happy hour at various watering holes in the area.

Gee, too bad Friday is my day off and I don't do churchy things that day. (sarcasm)

They can make me join, but they can't make me go to their little parties. Nobody has been able to explain to my satisfaction why a church should be in the CoC, anyway.

SpookyRach said...

The Chamber of Freakin' Commerce? How weird - what with all that drivin' of money-changers out of temples and stuff.

I've often thought about joining the Lions Club. Came close once. I hate meetings, though, so I never actually darkened their door.

Songbird said...

I spoke at a Rotary breakfast recently. I guess I could see a reason for being present in such an organization if you are a settled pastor in a town/city that is not enormous. No one would have cared about having me do it at Small Church, because they weren't involved in those organizations themselves. (Some of the older members were Masons.)

Presbyterian Gal said...

Any organization's membership that requires you to be who you're not, even if you discover this after joining, warrants the following response: "I'm sorry, this isn't working for me. And as a result, you either. Good luck and God bless your endeavors", followed by a pitcher of Margaritas with best buds.

Bag Lady said...

Okay--I'm presuming much here. From what you said, I'm infering that you're talking about Rotary.

I worked at Rotary International headquarters for seven and a half years, producing printed materials. Despite my reservations about what happens at the top levels (which is pretty much what occurs in so many associations) and my gut-level reaction to some of the tenets, I can say that Rotary has done some amazing things.

First, the minuses. I thought the weekly meeting requirement akin to a spiritual discipline no longer required by many Christian denominations. And some of the presidents, to me, appeared to confuse Rotary with religion. I also had a problem with the fact that one had to be invited (deemed worthy) to join.

The pluses. Rotary works extremely well on a grass-root (okay, an elite grass-root) level. The interactions between chapters in different countries have produced some amazing, transforming results.

I recall the heated discussion on whether Rotary should become involved in (some of the then) Communist countries. The concern was if helping develop Rotary Clubs in, say, China, would be helping the regime to thrive.

What developing clubs in such countries did was to open up avenues/resources for people who demonstrated their willingness and ability to work, to make very real differences in their communities.

And the scholarship/fellowship exchanges are tremendously valuable, especially in a world where communication is ever more necessary. The Rotary Foundation scholarships long ago surpassed the Fulbright scholarships in scope.

Having never attended a Rotary Club meeting, I don't know what it's like. My sense is that it varies a whole lot depending on the community. And maybe being a rebel in that setting would be trying.

But is ridding the world of polio middle-class? Is providing a safe source of water in African countries, so that people don't have to deal with incredibly ucky huge parasite worms that chew their way out of the body, middle-class? Is building schools or hospitals, or procuring ambulances, for communities that have no other option, middle-class?

I don't know what your local club is like--and that really does determine effectiveness--but you can always quit if none of the above happens.

Anonymous said...

I'm not much of a joiner, but my local Kiwanis group does a lot of good stuff -- serving food to poor people, raising money for scholarships, etc. I think I'm going to join.

But then again, I've always been way too staid to have rebel credentials, so the notion doesn't seem terribly troubling to me.

Sophzilla said...

If you join, perhaps some body piercing will help balance the psychological load? :)

hipastorzwife2B said...

I was in the Jaycees for a while...but it was a dying organization. Pomp and Circumstance was worse than the highest church. Took themselves and their rules far to seriously. Did some stuff in the community. I wouldn't rule out being a member in a more functional org in the future.