GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — Churches hosted and congregational ministers led many of America’s first Boy Scout units. Today, some 100 years later, 70 percent of all Scout units are faith-based.
Whether Cubs for grades one through five, Scouts for post-fifth grade, or high school coed Venturing, Scouting offers churches a unique partnership to positively impact lives. When used in conjunction with the Programs of Religious Activities for Youth (P.R.A.Y) religious emblems program, pastors report discipling entire families for Christ.
Here is a step-by-step process to start a Scouting ministry in your church.
— Begin with the clear understanding that the local church owns the unit. Similar to a franchise rather than a sponsorship, units are intended to support the ongoing mission of the chartering organization, including outreach, evangelism and discipleship.
— Contact the local Boy Scout Council office and express a desire to sponsor a unit. In turn, a Scouting representative or team will make a presentation to your church. The team likely will include a new unit organizer who is committed to being a resource to church leadership throughout the formative process. A new-unit commissioner experienced in operating effective units will be provided for ongoing encouragement and counsel.
— The church should vote to adopt Scouting as an integral ministry and select a unit organizing committee from within the congregation.
— The unit organizing committee selects and recruits key leaders and a standing unit committee. To best ensure that Scouting is a church ministry, key leaders should be active church members who feel this is a fulfillment of their personal mission. The chartered organization representative must be a member of the congregation, and will serve as a link between the church and Scout council.
— The key leadership team will be equipped by the district training team. Much of this basic training is available online. (Districts are geographic subdivisions of the Scout council.)
— The unit committee, assisted by the new-unit organizer, plans and organizes the program and recruits youth members.
— All unit leaders and potential Scouts complete the appropriate registration forms.
— The well-trained leadership team conducts the first unit meeting.
— The leadership team presents to the church family official charter papers, affirming the relationship between the church and Scouting. Churches can support units by including weekly meetings in the church calendar, linking to unit websites, observing Scout Sunday each February, providing service project opportunities at church, attending Scout unit recognition events and providing a unit chaplain, among other initiatives.
Contact information for the Boy Scouts: [email protected], 877-272-1910, http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/BSAFoundation/ContactInformation.aspx
R. Chip Turner is a Southern Baptist who serves as national chairman for Boy Scouts of America religious relationships. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).