Now That is a Question

While in California, I worked with Scouters, pastors, and a District Executive. We worked through what the challenges for the ministry are from a church perspective. We took an honest look at what we can do contractually and as a ministry.

It can be hard to realize the church has been in decline for decades. It doesn’t feel good. We care about the church. But our church is greying and shrinking. It is even harder for our church to be an honest partner in the local contract that Scouting needs. Conducting the program does mean presence at every campout. The older you get the harder it is to sleep in a tent. The fewer the members the smaller the presence at anything.

We do have a few new options. These free the church to honor the commitments and engage. Many will engage deeply with the community, regardless of the documents, through Scouting. They love to share time with youth and live into that calling. That is ministry!

In all our conversations, there was one question. It nearly took me off my feet. Not for its audacity but for its earnestness. It came from a non-member who has served at a United Methodist Church for a long time. The community the church is in has changed dramatically. The congregation has not. The historic Scout Troop has changed and reflects the community. It is an incredibly visible witness of a church in a community.

He asked, “What can our Scouts do to help the church?” This Troop already donates thousands of dollar to the church, do service projects for and with the church, and support the church fundraisers through service. They are also afraid of the decline of the church. The partnership has been amazing and long. But what happens when the church dies?

I hear Scouting asking, “What can we do to help the church?” at a time when the legal and episcopal strain is extremely high. They want the United Methodist Church to thrive not just survive. Think about that for a bit.

Scouts use Semaphore to spell out S-C-O-U-T.

Published by Steven Scheid

Dir. Center for Scouting Ministries

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