Scouting has been part of the United Methodist Church since forever. My experience with scouting has been limited to sharing space, asking an Eagle Scout to set fires for me to roast marshmallows, writing Eagle Scout recommendation letters for our neighbors, leading a Family Badge Clinic at the invite of another Children’s Ministry Director, and an argument in a past church with a scout leader over his “borrowing” 20 plastic tables from the fellowship hall for a camping trip without notifying the church when I had an event scheduled in that space with those very tables at the same time.
A parent approached me after last February’s Scout Sunday wondering if I could help provide a badge opportunity for their then-4th grader for God and Family. They agreed to partner with me in prayer and serve in a future leadership role because this was out of my wheelhouse. I did some research and heard the heart of a colleague for scouts and the P.R.A.Y. Program. We, too, made it a matter of prayer over the spring and summer. By fall, God provided an outstanding scout leader who ranks high and well in our regional scout council and his son, an Eagle Scout who is in his early 20s with energy and a heart for kids. Both are members of our church. I have the honor of serving as the program coordinator and the spiritual mentor for both groups and my colleague with the heart for scouts is walking alongside me. My wheelhouse just got bigger.
We set up an informational meeting followed by four meetings for the God and Me program for first through third graders and six meetings for the God and Family program for fourth through sixth graders. I ordered books, set up online registration, and we were blown away with the response. Requiring each student to attend with a parent/adult aligned with our vision for partnering with parents in the faith formation of their children and we started last Sunday afternoon. These adults are taking the Adult Mentor program alongside their student.
Word was shared among our community’s troops and packs. Nineteen students started the program last Sunday afternoon realizing their Duty-to-God component of Scouting making up sixteen families. Of the sixteen families, one is not a scout, and only six are regulars in our children’s ministry program. I have now been invited into the lives of sixteen families for a season with a special recognition come the next Scout Sunday in February when we will recognize these students and their families in Sunday services along with a brunch celebration. I’m downright giddy!
Statistics indicate that of all the youth who join Scouting through the church, 25% are United Methodists, 25% are members of other denominations or faiths, and 50% come from unchurched families. (Voice of Scouting) Coordinating and offering these badge clinics invites me to connect with these families in a way that is all Jesus of the Bible and all kids for a season I would not otherwise get to do. When I approached my senior pastor about this last winter, I asked if I could take just-this-part of our scouting ministry. We have a huge scout program, but I needed to stay in my lane. He agreed and gave his blessing. This is an open door and I’m taking it!
How are you helping your scouting community realize their Duty-to-God component of Scouting and building relationships in the process?
“(My word) will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11