Mary Bradley, Director of District 5, has been blogging her thoughts about the wfla and the fraternal system. Read one of her first entries, “Finding the void and filling it,” below. What are your thoughts on how we fill the void?
A few things have caught my attention in the last couple weeks that reminded me of the reasons why community organizations exist–to fill a void. On my typical drive home from work last week, I noticed an older church with three sand volleyball courts and about 50+ out there enjoying the night. Their strategy was clear and simple, provide recreation and an attraction for young families and they will come.
It may not be a large void in your community so don’t think that looking for the void and trying to fill it will be unreachable, it may just require a little research and creativity. They provided an environment, invited people and my guess is that they gained substantial membership from this one summer activity. I am sure the next seasons events are well known to all those people as well.
It’s interesting to see new churches pop up all over the place. They are in non-traditional type buildings and are targeting young families. They use billboards with modern teenagers on them, advertise at the movie theater while people are waiting for their movie to start and have activities available that every member of a young family will enjoy. The key is to have a suitable environment prepped and ready for when those people come, it cannot be an after thought. They are not filling the void of religion necessarily but the sense of community with a welcoming environment.
Interesting enough, I have a friend who is agnostic but he never minded going to church. Why? Because it provided a sense of community. There were activities for the children, groups for adults and a sense that his family belonged to something bigger than their nucleus family. I asked him if a fraternal organization could fill the same need for his family and he agreed that it would as long as it had something to offer his family.
Fraternals could learn something from these new churches popping up all over the place and the revived long standing churches. They are providing something for the community and it isn’t breath taking, just a place and chance for for young individuals and families to be part of a community.
Are you providing this for young people and families in your community?