We normally begin straightway with the Senior Patrol Leader’s Report, since the Patrol Leaders Council meets just before Troop Committee, and we want the youth leadership report first so the SPL can get home on a school night. Last night, we had no PLC and no SPL, so we went on to the next thing, which was Minutes of the last meeting. Then the Treasurer’s report.
Next would come the Scoutmaster’s Report, followed by any Assistant Scoutmasters who had something they wanted to deal with. Our SM was in Virginia on a bear hunt; we had one ASM who didn’t have much to bring to us.
Then, we began to deal with the reports of various sub-chairs, beginning with Advancement. We spent a lot of time on this, as we often do. We keep track of where each Scout is in the advancement system – his Rank, his needed Merit Badges, where he’s falling behind, how close he’s getting to his 18th birthday (‘cause some of these guys really cut it close in finishing their Eagle). In this section of the meeting and in others, too, we talk about who’s new, who’s active, who’s falling off in participation, who needs some help and who needs a challenge.
We didn’t have our fund-raiser Chair there, but when she’s there, we talk about projects we do to raise money. We talk about equipment every meeting – its condition, and quantity. After every department has been given a chance to raise issues, we go on to Old Business, New Business, Future Business. We talk over service projects, relationships with the church, training issues, relationships with the schools and with community organizations. I leave every meeting with a to-do list, and I know others do, too.
Keep in mind that most of us in a Troop Committee meeting aren’t going camping with the Scouts much. Most of the Committee is parents and former first-line leaders. But it takes all of us to make the entire program and all its benefits available for the boys.
After I got home, I remembered a lunch meeting with a colleague I’d had earlier in the day. We talked over the perennial problem of making disciples, and how most churches just don’t have a clue. We do a lot of programs and we hire staff and we report on things, but the church leadership as a whole doesn’t do a very good job of making disciples.
The reason is probably that nobody made them disciples in any organized way, so they don’t know what they should be doing. They’re like a coaching staff, no member of which has ever been part of a winning team. They can diagram plays and run sprints and give pep talks, but nobody knows how to make it all add up to a winning season.
Now imagine if our Church Council were run like our Troop Committee. Let’s say we begin, as soon as possible after Minutes and Treasurer’s Report, with the up-front leaders bringing to the Council what they’ve been doing and what they’re dealing with: the pastor, the lay leader, the presidents of the women’s, men’s, and youth groups. Deal with what they want to deal with first.
Then go through the departments. Instead of “advancement,” we’d have Discipleship or Education (call it what you will). And instead of talking so much about classes and programs, we’d be talking about people. We’d know who’s been baptized, who’s articulated a personal faith, who’s joined the church. We’d talk about who’s comfortable leading prayer, and who’s been on a mission trip. We’d be looking out for those who are falling behind or dropping out, and what it’s going to take to keep them growing.
Then we’d go on to deal with Missions, and Trustees, and Stewardship, and the other departments. And then, we’d do the event stuff: Old Business, New Business, Future Business.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between our making disciples and the Committee developing Scouts is that the whole Troop Committee knows what it takes to make good Scouts: we have explicit and understood standards and an advancement system that keeps kids growing. Meanwhile, church folk largely don't know what-all goes into being a disciple, and what they do know is the remnants of six other pastors' and parachurch orgs' methodologies.
But if we knew what we were doing as regards making disciples with as much confidence as the Troop Committee knows what they’re doing as regards making proper Scouts out of eager boys, then our strokes would not go astray as much, I’d bet. Oh, you never reach everybody; I know that. But I think we’d do a much better job of keeping and making disciples – and developing future leaders for the Church – than we do now.