At the Central East District training Rev. Dr. Lovett Weems asked, “what fruit are these efforts producing?” Furthermore District Superintendent Bob Burns shared that the key message he received from Dr. Weems was to use SO THAT as a means to reflect on everything we do. In this case, consider finishing this statement: We’re hosting/chartering a Scouting troop SO THAT…
How can churches support Scouting SO THAT it becomes a vital part of church life?
Churches who viewed Scouting as a ministry of the church have been the most successful in fostering a mutually-beneficial relationship.
Pastor Teresa Adams of Community UMC in Page, AZ offered a sermon on Scout Sunday centered around the God-based origins of Scouting, and shared pictures of the first troop chartered in 1960 and the current troop on the worship screens. Members launched a Help a Scout Fund which provides financial assistance for Scouts in need to pay for their membership fee and uniform expenses. As a next step, Community UMC plans to host a Thank You dinner for local Scout leaders to recognize their important work with youth.
Cathy Catolfo, a leader at Velda Rose UMC in Mesa, AZ, shared reasons leaders are grateful for church involvement. She said,
“In some cases like ours, the majority of our youth have never been introduced to the Bible, Church, or God. Because Boy Scouts of America is a religious organization, there are programs in place (God and ME, God and Family, and God in Country) that the Pastor or a member of the church can use to counsel our youth. The church is also a place to call home, where we receive love and support from the members of the church, and is more than just a place to hold our meetings.”
Some churches invite Scouts to read scripture during worship allowing the uniformed Scout to experience sharing the Good News from the pulpit. Churches can also:
- Offer annual merit badge clinics that are open to all troops in the area
- Pray for the scout leaders, scouts, and their families
- Display pictures of the troop in action throughout the campus
- Invite troops to sell their Girl Scout Cookies or Scout-O-Rama tickets on campus
- Identify potential Scout leaders and charter a new troop
- Find out which troops in the area do not have a free meeting space and offer to host their meetings
Part of the advancement work that scouts perform requires learning and participation in various areas such as community and organization administration and service.
For example, Communications is a merit badge for Boy Scouts. What if Scouts joined the church Communications team and provided ideas and instruction on improving outreach with people their age?
What would happen if Scouts were members of the Church/Ad Council? Is their voice needed during idea/planning phases of annual programming? If they were seated at that table, would they have an opportunity to offer ways that their troop could serve at events?
This past winter Girls Scouts near Scottsdale UMC hung door hangers for the church promoting the Christmas Eve worship service. This effort resulted in increased attendance. Boy Scouts meeting at Community UMC will be performing a fire safety building analysis prior to an upcoming inspection from the local Fire Department. At Velda Rose UMC, Scouts will be camping on church grounds while providing overnight security for an annual rummage sale. Scouts have been volunteers for VBS and completed service projects and Eagle projects at multiple churches because someone from their leadership who was involved in the church was able to connect the groups’ needs.
Is it too late to foster a transformational relationship?
Scout Sunday happens every year in February and Girl Scout Sunday is March 8, 2015. But it’s not too late to start implementing some of these ideas into an existing cohabitant agreement. You have a whole year to work on the relationship. Be present at Scout functions and offer some leadership development opportunities that are mutually beneficial.
Cathy from Velda Rose UMC stated,
“I believe the church sees how Boy Scouts teaches our young men to be men of character”
and with a bit of nurturing, the church can be a part of that development SO THAT together we can create new leaders for our country and new disciples for the transformation of the world.
For more information about Scouting, Boys & Girls Club, 4H, etc. at the Desert Southwest Conference contact Doug Wright, Conference Scouting Coordinator, at email@example.com or visit http://desertsouthwestconference.org/scouting-ministries .
To find out more about Scouting and The United Methodist Church check out the following links: