Connecting with groups that serve youth
5 agencies comprise 'Scouting Ministries'
United Methodists use the term "Scouting Ministries" to refer to five civic youth agencies and programs—Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire USA, 4-H, Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Each of these offers distinct programming and organizational features. And they are valuable as outreach ministries for a church, explained Richard Grosshans of Oklahoma City. He has served as the volunteer Scouting Ministries coordinator for the Conference.
Coordinators now have been named in each district, as well as the Conference’s first-ever "Scouting Ministry Specialist," Marvin White of Moore.
Grosshans pointed out that coordinators and specialists can help congregations expand their connections to civic groups that serve young people. A church can do more than provide meeting space.
"Many mission opportunities are made available through these agencies," Grosshans said. Each youth organization has inherent building blocks that can transform young people for Christ. For example, the "Religious Activities with Youth" series focuses on discipleship, family, and service. (This series was formerly named "God and Country.")
"Scouting is one potential entry point for persons to join the church. Reach out through these five programs," Grosshans said. He cited statistics that indicate 50 percent of the young people involved in such civic programs at churches are from families without any faith affiliation.
"We the Church are endowed with certain responsibilities that allow civic youth-serving programs to become ministry. This is what differentiates us from a community-based club," he said.
Grosshans logged more than 3,000 miles in 2009 as he met with groups across the state. He encourages churches to consider honoring the adults who support such ministries within their congregations.
In 2009, he said, 16 churches presented the Cross-and-Flame Award to such leaders.
"The real honor is 10-15 years down the road, when you see those youths who are now young men and women," Grosshans said.