"Organized religion" often gets a bad rap. I have even heard many Christians complain about how "organized religion" is not what Jesus intended and turns people off to God rather than into disciples. My usual, admittedly glib, response is that I will take organized religion over disorganized religion anyday.
In the wake of Katrina, Anne Kim at her new blog Heart, Mind, Soul & Strength shows how having "organized religion" allows the Church to fulfill its mission and show God's love to the world. Anne is, like me, a Houstonian. But she has the benefit of still residing in Houston. Anne has stepped forward like many thousands of other church goers, to volunteer in providing relief to the refugees from New Orleans. Most recently, Anne has volunteered at the Astrodome, where she made the following observation about the advantages of organized religion:
After the initial scramble to get everyone situated here in Houston, things have settled into a bit of a routine. The various religious groups within the first few days coordinated the massive volunteer efforts, with each group having a designated day or set of days to staff the volunteer posts. (Mental note: next time someone goes on about how they don't like "organized" religion, tell them how nice it was to have this organized.)
Churches and church members all over the country have poured their money, their facilities, and their time into helping those whose lives have been affected by Katrina. It is organized religion, with the emphasis on organized, that has helped carry the bulk of the volunteer burden.