Friday, May 04, 2012

A Glut of Organizations

Americans are distinctive for voluntary organizations (Tocqueville) that promote a favored cause. They are wonderful, do a lot of good. But can it be that more is always better?  Not necessarily.

I have been members of various voluntary groups usually devoted to social justice causes and religion. I can think of several examples in which I doubt that it could be shown that anyone actually benefited from our work.

One was a Theological Advisory Committee for the denomination. We met at wonderful places, had a great time with each other, prepared papers, interviewed guest experts and  made reports. If anyone were saved, sanctified, or inspired to do good works increasing love of God and neighbor, I was not aware of it.

I was once on the board of an interfaith organization. We spent thousands of hours making a video on local poverty to be shown in local churches. We had a big community gathering to celebrate our video and had some success in getting churches to show it. Was even  one poor person helped by all this? Not that I know of.

I and a friend accepted an assignment by our local church when we were exploring future ministries. We took on housing for low and moderate income families. We interviewed town and city officials, investigated the issue as best we could. The most astounding discovery was that in the city and county there were a huge number of organizations working on this issue. Our message to the church was to urge members to join one of these, not to form another organization! Too many already.

I could go listing many other groups  I have belonged to that I doubt ever actually helped anybody.

Emerging needs may call for a new voluntary organization. But this should be resorted to only after it has been determined no existing group is effective or relevant to present circumstances.

No comments: