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My Flyfishing club

John Knowles playing a beautiful brown trout at Double Lagoon

I joined a fly fishing club about 18 months ago as I unraveled and knew intuitively that I needed something outside of church and family as a refuge that would help me deal with the seething emotions and backlog of mind bending gymnastics I was going through. The big spin off, is that the longer I’ve been involved, the more impressed I am at this club and how much of a metaphor it is for the church. Oddly, it operates more like I think the church should be than the church I operated!

It’s one of the largest clubs in the country, yet it’s in the least populated state. It runs the largest fly fishing school in the country, pulling people from thousands of miles away who make the trek every year. None of the club members get any financial support for what they do, it is 100% voluntary. I’ve met fishers from other clubs nearby, who are envious of the way the club is run, the relationships and camaraderie and of course, our success.

Oddly, I didn’t meet the club president for some 14 months after joining despite attending two schools (which he didn’t attend) and several other events. He has an amazing team that seems to keep everything rolling sweetly. He obviously delegates well, but at the same time provides enough direction and leadership for the rest of the team to function well.

Everyone who helps out with the events, meetings, training, newsletter, comps etc. are passionate about helping others. They actually serve faithfully and passionately, doing everything they can to pass on their knowledge and take time out to do it well. One such individual, Athol, spent quite a bit of time helping my nine year old with his casting technique when we enrolled together. I was impressed. Another individual, Martin, took it upon himself to organize kids games from 5.30-6.30pm on each day of the camp to entertain the kids so the parents could have a break and get some supper together.

Financially, this club is the bomb. They only have one fundraiser per year, and that’s at the summer fly fishing school. Businesses donate thousands of dollars worth of prizes and these are raffled off on the last night seated in the big marquis over biscuits, cheese and wine amidst a whole lot of laughter and fun. Thousands of dollars are raised. The camp only costs some $120 to attend and you receive access to fishing experts, guides, casting instructors, and international fishers for a whole week worth probably one thousands dollars of tuition. The club have built a lodge without going into debt in the highlands surround by world class trout fishing waters that I can stay at for $7 per night. Yes that’s right, an almost new lodge for $7 per night in the middle of world class trout fishing. What’s more, they have tens of thousands still in the bank.

The servanthood is amazing. One individual inducted as a life member of the club, George, is at virtually every event cooking or catering for everyone else. At the camp he takes care of all the sanitation. He empties and cleans the portable toilets twice a day and does a water run also twice daily for all the campers. The amazing thing is, George is in his seventies and is badly in need of a hip replacement as indicated by his swaying gait. He’s too old to fish now, so he just serves people. In his spare time he serves the community by doing hospital runs for invalids and a myriad of other things to help people.

I’ve realized how it works. It works on passion. Every member who serves, teaches, instructs, hosts, cooks, guides, encourages, photographs, travels and befriends, is totally passionate about flyfishing and helping others experience the joy they have experienced. They’re giving something back to a cause that has given so much to them. It’s the ultimate motivator – passion. No-one is grudging, it doesn’t eat into their time, they’re not too busy, they’re not tired and “meetinged out”, they’re not being cajoled or put on guilt trips, they aren’t operating under “shoulds”, they just love what they do and they love imparting it to others. Simple. But effective.

I can honestly say, I love to hang around with these guys. It’s so easy going. It’s not strained, or forced. It’s bliss.

If only the church could learn something from this club.


9 Responses

  1. I knew a church like that once…..

  2. Serious? I wish it was nearby!
    You only know of one????

  3. You ask a big and very disturbing question of the church and all of us as followers of Christ. Where is our passion? Is it the work of the devil that makes my church so passionless compared to the fly fishing club.

    I’ve been involved in kart racing and seen the same passionate servanthood from hundreds of people for no reward or recognition just a love for their sport and the participants. Many working every single spare hour for the sport, some choosing to give up work or work part time to dedicates more time to the sport.

    This is probably more important than sacking the pastor, if we had a abundant passion for Christ it wouldn’t matter whether we had a pastor or not. We simply wouldn’t want to place all the work on the pastors shoulders; we’d be scrambling to do his work.

    If I knew a church like the fly-fishing club I’d don’t think I’d go – I’d only wreck its passion 🙂


    • Simon, I’m not sure we could credit the devil for making many in the church passionless. It’s interesting that you’ve observed the phenomenon of volunteer sporting groups that run off passion too…

      And mate, you should come fly fishing, you wouldn’t wreck it at all. In fact I think with any group you have a core group of really passionate servants and of course you have those who are just testing the waters. But it doesn’t matter. Those who rock up do so, and the club members help them out and if they don’t turn up we still have tons of fun.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. Sounds like an amazing culture of people displaying the best in human nature.

    I’m curious. Based on your trained discernment, how many of them will you see in heaven? Are they following the form of godliness or are they filled with His Spirit?

    I know a group of guys down at the local tavern who hold fundraisers for kids with cancer, with great joy and passion. They feel they are really doing something good in the world, unlike those church hypocrites. Try to ask them if they know the Savior and you might get shot.

    … for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. Luke 16:8

    Great bunch of guys to hang around in this world. But I don’t know how many will make it into the Kingdom when He comes.

    One thing I know — without the vertical the horizontal is hollow, and vice versa.

    Fascinated by your posts, TW

    • TW, something I learned after exiting the church was that there are individuals and organizations everywhere doing amazing things. I now work in a Family Mental Health Support Service and my co-workers are brilliant at supporting families and children of sufferers. I thought the church was the only answer, but then I realized there was so much going on without the church. You’ve seen similar things happening at the local tavern. John Eldredge would explain it in terms of people made in God’s image doing godly things without necessarily understanding the reason for it.

      A couple of thoughts: one is that when the disciples complained to Jesus about some outsiders driving out demons in Jesus’ name, Jesus told them to leave them alone and let them get on with it, because if they were not against us, they were for us (without necessarily being “us” in any conventional sense). In other words, they didn’t meet the expectations the disciples had for being an “insider” and yet Jesus seemed comfortable with that… which leads me to my second thought.

      I wonder if the kingdom is bigger than the church? Somehow God is “across” everything that is going on, and I wonder if there are kingdom activities going on where the church isn’t yet involved? We know there is an element of mystery to God’s activity on earth, and I wonder if the kingdom is a little more mysterious than we first thought.

      • Alright, I guess the premise is you are wounded or afflicted or something. (I haven’t read so many of your posts). If that’s the case, I’d rather sound like Elihu then Job’s wife or John the Baptist. Better yet, I’d like to have some vague idea where you are at, in case its time for compassion rather than conviction, etc.

        After all, despite the good things that happened in “you’ve got mail,” I think the written word can be a tough way to communicate a lot of things. If you watch to the end, they give it up too, in favor of hanging around in fresh fruit markets on sunny days, wearing drab colored sweaters showing their chastity — despite the lack of Christ in their lives.

        I know, I too might fit in better in a fruit market. … good one.

        But I have to wonder how liberal a guy you are. I mean, no one comes to the father but thru Him. Stay in Him or you can do NOTHING, right? You don’t deny that. … do you?

        So, anyone can be nice and do good. But it takes a real fool to lay it all down for the Lord (INSTEAD OF laying it down for your fellow man.)

        … of course, then, when we are the most thoroughly dead, He wants us out of bed to feed the servants their food at the proper time. Mt 24. But it’s okay, because He is our life. Connected to Him we are in His love and His power to love.

        But how can these folk outside the universal church do anything that matters a hill of beans? He is our life, and we are His hands and feet, if we are good and dead so we can be alive to His Spirit, remaining in Him (via obedience by walking in His Spirit …).

        So, if you are telling me that describes your friends who are ‘outside the church’, then I’m right there with you. The universal church contains all such folk, and not necessarily so many who do good in that building with the steeple.

        But I don’t get impressed with a bunch of good guys just because they prove they can do it without regard to conventional churchianity. If He’s not their life, … their works are dead, even if they feed millions or encourage a burnt out believer. That’s just the way it is.

        Can’t help it Jack. I’ve got that spirit of prophecy thing going on today. tw

  5. That church? I was the pastor….

  6. Of course, I’m probably wrong about all this. tw

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