aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

The United Methodist Church and CYSA/Scouting

Nationwide, The United Methodist Church is the largest user of the programs we call Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting. And CYSA/Scouting is probably, after Sunday School, the largest form of ministry The UMC pursues with children and youth. Somewhere near [two-thirds of a million] kids are members of BSA, GSUSA, 4-H, and Camp Fire groups affiliated with The UMC. Many more UM children and youth are members of CYSA groups affiliated with other community organizations. Yet more participate in the God and Country program in The UMC. Scouting -- in both Boy Scouting and Girl Scouts/Girl Guides forms -- is also an international movement. Our churches in the UM Central Conferences and our sister Methodist Churches around the world also use these programs to disciple their children and youth for Jesus Christ.

Your local church can reach the children and youth of your community -- and their families -- with the love of God and the challenge of following Christ through CYSA/Scouting Ministries. Along the way, you will develop important leadership skills in both the youth and the adults who work with them. You will make the Church of Jesus Christ stronger, and your community better. And you will have fun.

A wise man once said, "Scouting can be spelled in three letters: F - U - N." That's why kids join. To have fun. This is a good thing. Along the way, they learn many things, try out new roles, are shaped by their experiences. They learn to care about the earth, and each other, and their community. For many of them, the trail leads them to Christ. About one in eight boys who enter BSA units have their first encounter with the Church through that experience; similar experiences are to be expected of children in other CYSA programs, especially when the Church operates them. Many adults look back at their experiences in these programs and credit them with making them the adults -- the leaders -- the Christians -- that they are today. Many others say they first had an inkling of their life's work through these programs. And many, many speak of the men and women who modeled integrity, faith, and love for them. Kids need heroes, and they find them here. They find you.

Your local United Methodist congregation has a tremendous opportunity to glorify God and serve the youth of your community by getting involved in the programs of the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of the USA, 4-H, and Camp Fire USA. Some may not see the opportunity; others wonder what the Church has to do with it. But the fields are white unto harvest; pray God may send laborers out to reap it.
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
and daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I wrote this in 1997 for publication by the South Indiana Conference Committee on CYSA/Scouting Ministries. It has been slightly edited for re-publication. Posted to aefenglommung, naums, and methodism.

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