The United Methodist Church is endowed with certain responsibilities that allow scouting and civic youth serving programs to become a ministry. This is what differentiates us from a civic or community-based club. This Guideline will help explain the Office of Civic Youth Serving Agencies/Scouting (OCYSAS), the five chosen programs, and how to lead in this ministry area.
This is one of the twenty-six Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation 2017-2020 that cover church leadership areas including Church Council and Small Membership Church; the administrative areas of Finance and Trustees; and ministry areas focused on nurture, outreach, and witness including Worship, Evangelism, Stewardship, Christian Education, age-level ministries, Communications, and more.
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Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation 2017-2020 Scouting & Civic
Build Effective Scouting Ministry in Your Church
By Larry W. Coppock
CokesburyCopyright © 2016 Cokesbury
All rights reserved.
The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. For almost a century, scouting ministries has been part of our concern for the spiritual formation of children in the Christian faith.
Scouting has been part of our reach to children and youth within the church and community since 1920, according to Scouting in Methodist Episcopal Sunday Schools, published by The Board of Sunday Schools of the Methodist Episcopal Church. This publication states: "Scouting is presented to the church as a proved and approved week-day program for the boys of the Sunday School." Throughout the years, scouting ministry grew to include other youth-serving agencies. The 1948 Book of Discipline, ¶182 states, "Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and similar organizations and clubs may be included in the church school."
In the early 1980s, in an effort to strengthen our reach to children and youth, the United Methodist Men along with concerned Methodist scouters set a goal to establish an Office of Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting Ministries with a full-time director. This goal was achieved through a significant fundraising campaign that established an endowment through the United Methodist Men Foundation.
Since its inception in 1996, the General Commission on United Methodist Men has continued its historic purpose as a lay movement "to win men and boys to Christ and the Church," as stated in the 1948 Book of Discipline, ¶1514.3. Today, scouting ministries in The United Methodist Church include Boy Scouts of America (BSA), Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), Camp Fire, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
An estimated total of 1.5 million participants and family members are impacted by scouting ministries in The United Methodist Church.
Scouting ministries provide local congregations with an opportunity to mentor the spiritual and character development of children and youth in their communities through work on service projects, studying Bible-based resources like Religious Emblems through Programs of Religious Activities with Youth,,, learning and exploring new skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Scouting also connects children to nature, provides leadership opportunities and citizenship training, and builds healthy peer and intergenerational relationships.CHAPTER 2
Ten Reasons to Consider Scouting and Civic Youth-Serving Agencies as a Ministry of the Local Church
1. Outreach. The ministry of Christ revolved around the profound concept of reaching out to others. Modeling Christ's example, scouting and civic/youth-serving agencies seek to touch lives with the compassion of Christ. We have found that when we reach out to others, the blessings of God are returned to us.
2. Evangelism. Statistics indicate that of all the youth who join scouting through the church, 25 percent are United Methodists, 25 percent are members of other denominations or faiths, and 50 percent come from families with no church affiliation. Reaching out to families that do not have a church home is not a new concept. Scouting is one potential entry point for persons to join the church.. The church then has the opportunity to introduce, nurture, and strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ. Scouting provides a great way for the local church to serve its local community and, in the process, offer new and exciting programs that the church may transform into ministry to, with, and through youth.
3. Intergenerational. Scouting and civic youth ministry offer opportunities for older adults as well as youth. Church members may become isolated from one another because we tend to spend time with people of similar age groups. Scouting offers older adults a chance to become merit-badge counselors, mentors, or committee members who plan activities with and for youth. In these ways, and more, older adults can become an integral part of a youth's life. The experiences will be cherished for a lifetime.
4. Coeducational. Some scouting programs exist for both girls and boys. Camp Fire is coeducational for ages 1 to 21, while Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) Venturing division is for boys and girls ages 13 to 20. These programs are a great complement to any church's United Methodist youth ministry and also serve to encourage older Boy Scouts to participate in scouting for a longer period of time. Girls may participate in the same high-adventure activities that boys do.
BSA Venturing crews offer a high degree of flexibility for their members. Some crews focus on helping others through activities like building homes for Habitat for Humanity; other crews enjoy the benefits of camping, hiking, and high adventure. Local BSA councils offer the use of their youth-protection training and leadership training in addition to low-cost liability and accident insurance for their members.
5. United Methodist Men. United Methodist Men's groups have traditionally been the "standard bearers" of scouting and civic-youth ministry. United Methodist Men's units have been a source of manpower and volunteer leadership as well as a link between the congregation and the youth agency. United Methodist Men have assisted in fundraising events, work days, special events, and a variety of mentoring opportunities.
6. Mission. A variety of mission opportunities are made available through the four youth agencies. Camp Fire — through Gift of Giving, Teens in Action, and Extending Our Reach — educate and nurture children in projects that encourage their participation and commitment to volunteerism in a uniquely spiritual atmosphere. Similar opportunities exist within the various programs of the BSA, GSUSA, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
7. PRAY Program. Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY) offers age-appropriate studies that focus on discipleship, family, and service. Young people are drawn closer to Christ and invited to become better acquainted with their church and pastor. The PRAY series is a Bible-based resource that emphasizes service to others and brings recognition and increased self-esteem to the youth and teenagers who work closely with adult counselors and/or mentors. The PRAY program also serves as an effective outreach tool to youth agency members in the community.
8. Develop Servant Leaders. Each youth organization that we work with has inherent "building blocks" that the local church can transform into effective ministry. For example, they require service projects that offer opportunities to begin to cultivate effective servant leaders. By starting as "friends" (members of a troop or club), progressing to "followers" of Christ (older youth who are setting the example), and culminating in "fishermen" (youth who do service projects to meet requirements), we can envision how this is a true beginning for servant leadership in the church, community, state, and nation.
9. Intentionality. The scouting program can be an effective, intentional outreach ministry of the local church. Through intentional planning, the church has the ability to transform these scouting programs into important youth ministries similar to other important ministries and initiatives. As a result, scouting always should be on a level with other church ministries. It has the potential to be a far-reaching, positive outreach youth ministry for the immediate community.
10. Make Disciples. By considering one or a combination of the previous reasons, a local church may develop a consistent list of prospects for the Lord. Nurturing children, teens, and families through outreach and evangelism and incorporating them into the life of the church may have tremendous, eternal results for the youth, their families, and the church.CHAPTER 3
Child and Youth Protection
The United Methodist Church and our partner civic youth-serving agencies have the goal of keeping every child safe. This is the job of everyone involved in Scouting Ministry.
A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the United States according to the Tennyson Center for Children. The problem of child abuse has become one of the most significant social problems facing our nation. Recent public opinion polls rank the problem of child abuse second only to drug abuse as a national concern. The depth and breadth of this problem is great, but our churches can be proactive in prevention of abuse and uphold the teachings of Jesus.
Child abuse is the injury of a child by an adult or older child. The abuse that might not be intentional but is not accidental. Abuse can be physical, emotional, neglect, sexual, and/or ritual.
Safe Sanctuaries® is the name commonly given by United Methodist annual conferences and local churches to their individual efforts to make conference, district and local church programs welcoming and safe for children, youth, and vulnerable adults. Safe Sanctuaries® is more than implementing guidelines, policies, and procedures. Safe Sanctuaries® creates an environment with boundaries of safe space for children, youth, and vulnerable adults, and the adults who work with them. United Methodist Church resources are available at the following websites:
Congregations should require not only training but also the practice of youth protection policies within their units. The civic youth-serving agencies require all adults to complete their youth protection training. In addition to the required youth agency youth protection training, leaders involved in scouting ministries within your congregation should be familiar with the current Safe Sanctuaries® policy of your church. If these policies vary, the strictest policy takes precedence within your unit.
Report all suspected child abuse, neglect, or violation of youth protection policies immediately to the appropriate leader or legal authority following the procedures prescribed by the Safe Sanctuaries®/Youth Protection policies governing the unit and the congregation.
Safe Sanctuaries provide churches and leaders accountability while providing a safe haven for ministry with children and youth. Youth protection begins with you!CHAPTER 4
Your Ministry as Coordinator for Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting
All local churches should elect or appoint a coordinator to see that young people involved in the agencies' programs are recognized. An effective coordinator
affirms Christian values by lifestyle,
understands The United Methodist Church and is encouraged to be a member,
understands faith role modeling,
leads and works well with volunteer groups,
desires to grow and improve in the position,
delegates work to others with sensitivity and understanding,
has planning skills,
communicates well with others through writing and speaking,
supports people and their need to grow and improve,
believes in service to young people,
is elected or appointed by the appropriate conference (charge, district, annual, and jurisdictional) within which the coordinator serves.
Responsibilities of the Local Church Coordinator
1. Interprets scouting ministry as an intentional ministry of the church, providing nurture, service, mission, and outreach.
2. Coordinates scouting ministries with other programs in the church and publicizes those programs.
3. Encourages dialogue and understanding between the pastor or church leaders and adult leaders in the scouting ministry.
4. Serves as a member of the church council and reports monthly to that body.
5. Ensures that there is a signed charter or partnership agreement with the agencies.
6. Promotes the P.R.A.Y. religious education program for all youth in the church and provides information about the programs available for those of other faiths who are in our United Methodist Church youth agencies.
7. Works with the pastor in planning and observing Scouting Ministries Sunday or separate special Sundays for each of the agencies that are represented in the churches.
8. Sees that leaders become fully trained, by the agencies for their positions and by the church for youth protection.
9. Ensures that recognitions are awarded as appropriate, including the Bishop's Award of Excellence for units, the Cross and Flame, and Torch Awards for leadership, the Good Samaritan for youth who have provided service to the church or community, and other recognitions as needed, including public gratitude and agency awards.
10. Cultivates resources to support the organization's programs, recruits Boy Scout leaders, assists in recruiting leaders for other agencies, and assists in recruiting young people.
11. Assists the pastor in preparing a report of unit designation numbers, the number of young people registered, and the names and contact information of the leadership.
12. Represents the church on the district scouting committee.
Link with the Local Church
In order for any of these programs or approaches to be effective within the ministry of the church, the congregation must become intentional in its use of the youth-serving programs. All too often civic youth-serving agency ministries simply exist within the physical facilities of the church, while the leadership of the church has little or nothing to do with either the program or its leaders.
The church should give the same prayerful and careful preparation to the planning of its civic youth-serving agency ministries as it gives to its church school or vacation Bible school. Properly used, these programs can provide an arena in which young people can have wholesome experiences with their peers. This seldom takes place without planning and preparation. In short, the church must plan and operate the programs intentionally.
As the coordinator, you are the link between the church and the troop or club. You may be a scout or club leader who relates to the church that sponsors your group, or you may be a representative from the church who relates to the troop or club. In this coordinating position, you will find that meeting regularly with the church council and the troop or club ensures that leaders of each group are aware of each other's concerns and needs. This Guideline will help you understand how you, as coordinator, relate to the church. Direction and instruction on relating to the troop or club will come from the youth-serving agency.CHAPTER 5
Faith Modeling and Servant Leadership
There is a difference between faith modeling and faith teaching. Faith teaching is instruction about a particular faith (for example, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and so forth) or a specific doctrinal stance (such as one's beliefs about God or Holy Scriptures). The Office of Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting emphasizes faith modeling, while clearly stating that faith teaching is the responsibility of the home or the religious institution or organization.
Jesus constantly provided a faith model for his followers. When the disciples asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, called a child into their midst and talked about becoming like children. Then he said, "As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake" (Matthew 18:16). This passage conveys the high calling of those who inspire youth by modeling their faith.
As a servant leader and scouting leader, you are entrusted with the precious gift of young lives. Parents, who have experienced the miracle of a new life, are sharing that miracle with you. They are expecting you to model your faith and to help their children grow. Civic youth-serving agency programs stress citizenship, character development, and physical fitness. These programs encourage you as a servant leader and are designed to promote these values.
Young people learn a great deal about lifestyle by observing others and by practicing the behaviors they witness. Most parents can tell stories of how and when their children imitated them. Just as you have learned that personal skills are better taught by demonstration, followed by a chance to practice the skills, so faith development is encouraged by demonstration, with encouragement and opportunities to practice faith skills. As a servant leader, you are expected to abide by the policy that specific religious instruction is the responsibility of the home or the religious institution. However, you can let young people know that God is important in your life by the way you live in their midst. You can live a faith-oriented lifestyle.
If you are a scouting leader in The United Methodist Church, you have committed yourself to holding a belief in God. You have committed yourself to a principle that says, "No person can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his or her obligation to God." You have committed yourself to teaching young people both the words and meaning of the Girl Scout Promise, the Boy Scout Oath, or the Camp Fire Code. The best way to teach the words and meaning is to make them real in your life! If you are a member of and representative from the church to the troop or club, you have also declared in your membership vows to uphold your beliefs through prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
Excerpted from Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation 2017-2020 Scouting & Civic by Larry W. Coppock. Copyright © 2016 Cokesbury. Excerpted by permission of Cokesbury.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsBlessed to Be a Blessing,
Youth Agency Programs at a Glance,
Ten Reasons to Consider Scouting and Civic Youth-Serving Agencies as a Ministry of the Local Church,
Child and Youth Protection,
Your Ministry as Coordinator for Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting,
Responsibilities of the Local Church Coordinator,
Link with the Local Church,
Faith Modeling and Servant Leadership,
A Good Leader,
You Are the Salt of the Earth,
Positive Peer Pressure,
Relate to the Church Council,
Events and Programs,
Bishop's Dinner for Scouting,
P.R.A.Y. Mentor Program,
Recognitions and Awards,
The Bishop's Award of Excellence,
The Cross and Flame Award,
The Torch Award,
The Silver Torch Award,
The Good Samaritan Award,
The Shepherd Church Charter Recognition,
Supportive Organizations and Training,
United Methodist Men Foundation,
Training at BSA High Adventure Centers,
Other Training Programs,
Scouting Ministry Specialists,
Big Brothers Big Sisters Amachi Partnership,
Resources from the Office of Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting,
Brochures and Packets,
Resources from Cokesbury,
Resources from the General Commission on United Methodist Men,
UMC Agencies & Helpful Links,