firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
“relations have to be built on trust” – Oxford Languages Dictionary
  • Trust in God comes first
  • Trust in those who serve is required and diligence needed
  • Without trust, there is no Ministry
  • A Scout is Trustworthy, and So is Methodist Scouting

Trusting God can be difficult. Looking at the waters or the fire we are called to travel through brings natural fear. How can God prevail? People drown. People get burned. But God has done the miraculous so many times. God continues to bring us through. We must trust God first and walk down to the riverside. Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Trusting those who serve is important. God uses people for God’s will. Sometimes it is a direct path and others very indirect. These are all kinds of servants. Bishops, conference leaders, church leaders, and Scout leaders. The paths of thought may diverge but the desire for the good is the foundation. Not everyone has the same level of understanding. When you administer a large organization, the vision is different from the “walking with” that happens at the local level. Both are about caring. We need both. Trust requires diligence to watch each other’s back and know ours is being watched too.

Without trust, there is no ministry. Trust brings collaboration, innovation, and the invitation to the table. Without trust, we divide. Churches divide from each other and from century-old ministries which have blessed generations. Without trust, we hold to our own for fear of loss. When we trust, we hold to God knowing all is God’s to begin and end with. Trust makes needed changes into new ministry instead of abandonment.

Trustworthy is the first law of the Boy Scout Law. Honest and Fair are the first two commitments of the Girl Scout Law. We stand by these qualities and those who instill them in youth. Scouting is a trustworthy ministry. Methodist Scouting is Trustworthy. We have been at the table since the beginning. We have your back and will for the future.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

A Ministry for Christmas

עִמָּנוּאֵל Emmanouël or Εμμανουήλ Īmmānū’ēl Immanu El

Immanuel – God is with us.

Have you ever stopped to think deeply about the power of the statement made by an angel of the Lord to Joseph? The angel went back to scripture. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the sign and a name some 700 years before Jesus was to be born.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 NRSV

God would take on earthly form that we might learn. Miracles were performed that we might see. Life was given that we might live. God is with us.

Where is God among us today?

If we are to be salt and light, the body of Christ, a living testimony, why are so many hungry? Why are we so fearful? Why do we hide from the challenge of ministry?

I encourage you to take time this Christmas season to find and live in ministry. Find a way to love as Jesus and live with others. Be, for a moment, a reflection of God that gives hope.

How about a ministry for Christmas? It requires us to be with others. God did it. God asks us to follow.

Merry Christmas!


I get asked that question all the time. Why is someone who loves Scouting, serves in it, and wants it to grow, making changes? Why should we not recharter? Why are some Councils not accepting the BSA National Council and United Methodist agreement? Why is often the most challenging question to answer. Change is difficult for most people if they do not understand why.

For a Future

The Updated Affiliation Agreement is a negotiated agreement designed to provide Scouting with the most stable footing for the future. After the first round, the question was asked to legal counsel, “What can we not do?” There were only two things: Provide the EIN for banking and sign approvals for adults. The Updated Affiliation Agreement reflects that answer. We are committing to do everything we can do safely. We want Scouting to succeed.

Many Scout Executives recognize the need for an agreement that provides this structure. Bankruptcy is only one of two kinds: liquidation or restructuring. Just as the BSA Youth Protection Rules have changed dramatically, partner relationships need to change so we can be true partners.

A Few Things to Consider

There are some unique factors we are dealing with that most people have not thought about but are critical when considering the charter document.

Adults Approvals

BSA does not share the Ineligible Volunteer File. BSA asks charter partners to approve and monitor adults yet will not let the charter partner know if BSA has had previous problems with an adult. The Ineligible Volunteer File goes beyond the legal background check and into reported violations of YPT that may not be illegal. BSA has the ultimate knowledge and decision on membership regardless of any charter input. So why would a BSA Council not be willing to approve adults? That remains a requirement in the traditional charter that ended up being a liability within the BSA bankruptcy. It will continue to be a liability if we return to the old charter.

Conduct The Program

Traditional Chartering requires the church to conduct the program of Scouting. In effect, the Scouting program becomes a curriculum for the youth and adults participating. Many of our churches are getting older and smaller. While I wish for the 1970s for church and Scouting membership, I am glad we are far from that same peak season of abuse. Why would a Council want to go back? People who care for kids cannot go back to the good old days when abuse was more frequent and chartering was the thing. It is near impossible for most churches to have a presence at every activity. Yet this is a minimum requirement for conducting the program. Churches can be actively involved in the ministry without taking the liability to provide direct oversight of the program. (If you believe what Councils have said, they know this oversight is not being done anyway. Why would a Council want partners to sign a contract that they believe and express is not being fulfilled? It is not Trustworthy, loyal, or brave. We are being honest in the relationship.)


The not-for-profit insurance market is hardening. Multiple insurance groups will not allow a church to charter and still receive its church insurance. The church has many missions. BSA is a highly valued one of those missions. If the United Methodist Church puts Scouting Ministries above all others and charters, we set the other ministries at risk of not being insured. The BSA bankruptcy is taking more the $1.2 Billion out of the insurance market assets. It makes sense that this motivates changes in the market. We can use the Affiliation Agreement or Facilities Use Agreement to stay in ministry without risking it all. 

A Long Term Commitment

These are the three most compelling challenges. We are not walking away from Scouting but walking toward the next generation of Scouting. A Scouting where BSA, who approves every membership and writes the rules for all activities, will take the responsibility that comes with these two privileges. A Scouting where the church will have contracts that fit our society and our church. The church will be free to engage with whole heart and depth of conviction, without risking every ministry. Some churches have kept the contract and the promise of Scouting. For these, I am deeply grateful. Our current work is to make Scouting strong for the vast majority that wants Scouting but honestly cannot keep the old contract.

Moving Forward

Charter extensions run through Dec. 31. This allows for dealing with any hiccups that might come up before the charter grace period is over.

If your Council is unwilling to accept the Updated Affiliation Agreement for stronger Scouting, then the Scout unit will need to identify another charter partner to provide the EIN. The church can hold/insure the physical property simplifying any changes. This is an opportunity to build community. Look for a charter partner with whom the unit and the church have contact. Examples are the Lions, VFW, Kiwanis, Moose Lodges, and many others. 

A Resource Page

All the documents are for download. 

Scouting is Worth Making Stronger Partnerships

Most importantly, no youth read these agreements. They should not have to either. It is the adult part of us setting the path for them to enjoy Scouting. Change can be hard, but these few changes are worth it!

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.

Two to Tango?

There is an old saying, “It takes two to tango.” I got curious and searched for the origins of the expression. In 1952, a song titled “Takes Two to Tango” was released by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning. One of my favorite musicians of all time, Louis Armstrong, recorded it on a 45 rpm record. Take a moment and enjoy listening. A link is below.

There are all kinds of things we can do solo. But if we want to be in the dance together, it will take two. The dancers that make Scouting work are local churches and local councils. The BSA would never have grown into such an amazing organization without partners who embraced their steps for the last 100 years. The dance was a concerted effort of movements. Each partner moved with the other, sometimes in tandem and sometimes in opposition. Each brought richness to the movements.

The music has changed. The irony of dance partners is that they dance to the music but they don’t play the music. The music comes from others. In our case, the music comes from legislatures changing laws, courts making rulings, and lawyers engaging in legal battles. The music has not stopped. The movements have changed to a new tune.

I agree that “our ability to serve kids is paramount.” I also agree that the solo dance is not the way. We love Scouting. We want to stay in partnership. Maybe it is time to learn the Waltz or to Swing Dance together, please.

We are ready. Councils, may we have this dance?