Friday, April 20, 2012

Scouting a a tool for Church growth (Part 3)

In Part one, I talked about how a scouting program can bring young families into the church building itself every week. Remember, odds are 50% or more of those families do not have a church home right now.

In part 2, I talked about getting congregation volunteers who could help within the scouting program. This allows the scouts and their families to get to know members of the congregation.

I'd like to emphasize here, that there will be quite a few families that do already have a home church. If so, that's great. I don't think any of us want to try to pull people away from other churches where they already attend. But we do still want to make people welcome, both those with and those without a church they call home.

Part 3: Work with leaders inside the scout unit to emphasize the Religious Emblem programs.  The BSA and GSUSA both recognize a number of different recognition programs from various faiths. These programs are administered by the local churches, and not by the scouting unit itself.

I'm most familiar with the PRAY (God and Country) Series of awards, because I am in a Methodist Church. A number of Protestant Churches utilize these awards.

To see some of the awards used by other faiths or other Christian denominations, view one of the following lists.
Boy Scout Recognized Religious Emblems
Girl Scout Recognized Religious Emblems
Encourage your scouts of all faiths to work on the religious award program that their particular church follows. Give them information about the programs available based on their faith. Make a big deal about recognizing scouts who complete these programs.

And if they don't happen to have a home church they attend... Conveniently enough, your own church is already planning to hold classes for youth who want to earn those Religious Emblem awards. I would advise involving the non-scouting youth from the congregation as well for these programs, while also inviting non-members from the scouting programs.

Again, this will require some time from congregation volunteers, and also some time from the pastor of the church to run these programs. It's not a trivial task, and does require significant preparation and planning.

Ok, so you have young families, you have gotten to know them well, and they have even asked the church to lead their kids in a religious education class outside of scouts. I can't think of a better time to invite them to church on Sunday, Vacation Bible School, Church Youth Group, or any other church related activity you can think of.

A few words of caution:

Religious Emblem classes should NOT be done as part of regular scout meetings.    This should be done outside of those meetings, because a number of boys will want to attend the class of their own faith at their own church.

There's a distinction here between Outreach and Evangelism. While the scouting program is an outreach into the community, it is essentially non-denominational and non-sectarian. The Religious Emblem program however is specific to the faith of your church. Make sure the parents understand the distinction, even if the kids may not.

(Note: I borrowed heavily from Mark Hazelwood's Webinar Presentation for PRAY program for this.)

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