Does Scouting Work for Your Youth Ministry?

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Scouting provides outreach opportunities for your church

The opening decades of this century have seen a decline in church attendance. Everywhere churches are scrambling to get their message out to their congregations and of course, those not there yet. However, for those same churches’ youth ministries,  Scouting offers an excellent outreach solution. Further, any face-to-face encounter remains the most effective means of outreach to those in your community and Scouting can be that doorway. 

That’s where you and your congregation comes in. After all, your church has a building and it is likely in a neighborhood with kids (both boys and girls), so you are halfway there. Your church governance groups should discuss how to use Scouting to further the church’s aims and values for youth. That group should pick a liaison who will be your Chartered Organization Representative (COR) and select and approve the troop’s leaders. From the parents of Scouts or from your governance group, your troop will need a unit committee(s) made up of three parents or congregants and of course, you will need to make sure the troop has a place to meet, which bring us back to your church building

Scouting stands ready to serve those families and many know that Scouting has a tremendous impact on youth. But for whatever reason, they don’t know where to find it. All you have to do is bring it all together.

Even if your church has a fine youth organization of Bible study, training, and mission education, chances are that program mostly attracts young people already in the congregation. Scouting offers a distinctive outreach element to help extend the church’s ministry to the larger community and it often appeals to unchurched youth.

What is Scouting’s value for outreach?

Scouting is action-packed and skill-oriented but the Scout units are church-owned and church-administered. That means you make it what you want it to be and you will have complete authority to direct your program in your best interests. 

Your unit can be uniquely Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, or whatever faith, but it can also be mixed faith just as long as the stated principles of Duty to God are not violated. Imagine the outreach potential of a unit whose sole purpose is to reach unchurched young people in your community.

Michelle Collins, Scouter Mom

These young people might be hesitant to attend a regular church service but eager to join a Scouting unit. Michelle Collins, for example, says “Scouting truly does make the most of the time that we have with our child.” She continued,  “Scouting provides a family opportunity to be involved in something that makes a difference… We are truly involved as a family and it really does bring us together and capitalize on the little bit of time that we have.” She closed with this, “If you’re out there and you’re on the fence about making a decision to get involved with Scouts, I would love to encourage you to give it a try. Find somebody who is involved and connect with them so that you can begin to experience all that Scouts has to offer for your family.”

What an opportunity for these young people, their families, as well as for your own church members!

Scouting is a constructively competitive program that balances between scholarship and practical application. Conservation skills are learned through outdoor activities, teaching young people about Christian stewardship, which makes them familiar with God’s creative work.

Because Scouting offers fun and adventurous programs, kids want to join. But while they are having fun they grow in character and in citizenship, they develop leadership and fitness, including learning their duty to God.

Rev. Dr. T. S. Pitts, Progressive National Baptist Convention Interim General Secretary, stated: ” Of all the programs that mentor youth, Scouting offers a great opportunity to really transform and change the world.” This means it will fit into your church’s mission and outreach.

Scouting Resources for Your Church

Scouting delivers your youth ministry unparalleled leadership development courses and its camping facilities are among the Nation’s best. Scouting pledges to respect the aims and objectives of your church while they make these resources available:

  • Adult leader training which will be a legacy for your congregation and community.
  • Program resources and other Scouting support services.
  • Criminal background checks on adult leaders approved your church
  • Camping and other outdoor opportunities
  • Administrative support, and professional staff to assist you in developing a successful Scouting program.
  • Provide primary general liability insurance to cover the church, its board, officers, employees, and Scouting members and volunteers for
    authorized Scouting activities, indemnifying your church in accordance with the resolutions and policies of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America

The Most Rev. Gerla Gettelfinger, Episcopal Liaison for the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, said, “I can’t think of any other program or opportunity that gives us the rich resources and availability that Scouting does.”

For the youth themselves, there is fun and adventure as they learn and grow leadership skills. The advancement program offers individual growth and as Thomas S. Monson, past President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “I can’t think of any program or any activity which is better than the merit badge program.” Rev. Jerry Cannon, Pastor C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church says. Scouting “lays a solid foundation for what the church is about, but most importantly for the development of young men” and now young women too as Scouting has moved to serve entire families.

During Scouting activities lead by a volunteer leader of faith, a young person may be helped with personal and spiritual needs. This guidance may range from answering simple questions to guiding discussions, to serving as a role model for the child who needs one. Every youth program in the church has an important role in guiding the development of young people, yet lack of time often hampers the effort. In an average church program that meets weekly, amounts to 45–50 hours a year. But Scouting offers more than 300 hours. This has been credited, in part, as a reason for the number of Christian conversions reported in Scouting units operated by churches

Other Scouting Religious Resources

Among the groups chartering Scouting units, faith communities are the largest program sponsors. BSA offers myriad resources here.


For other articles in this series see:

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