May 22nd, 2009


Clergy Scouters: Work in progress

At my meeting on Wednesday, I got involved with a new subcommittee whose remit is working on new unit growth in religious charter partners of BSA. I pointed out that unless we taught people the "care and feeding of clergy," we wouldn't get much done. This is a very neglected field. The subcommittee chair and the other committee members were taken with this idea, and developing a document for BSA to use was listed as a priority. Since I was one of only two clergy at the subcommittee meeting, I'm taking it on myself to draft a document. I'll post it in sections here on my LJ, and I invite you to give me feedback on it as we go.

Cultivating the Clergy:
a strategy for Scouters working with religious charter partners

by The Rev. Arthur W. Collins, Ph.D.


In the early days of BSA, a large number of Scoutmasters were members of the clergy. Pastors saw in the Scouting movement a means of discipling boys and young men and they were eager to adopt and use the new program. As time went on, churches and other religious institutions continued to be strong users of BSA programs, but the clergy -- as a body -- largely lost interest. Today, many clergy are, at best, indifferent to Scouting, and many are hostile.

BSA is now attempting to re-invigorate its relationships with religious institutions. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples are seen as more hospitable homes for Cub Packs, Scout Troops, and Venturing Crews than schools and other State-run institutions. Strategies for new unit growth are heavily dependent upon penetrating the religious community.

Standing in the middle of the path are the clergy. At the end of the day, there is no cultivating a healthy relationship with religious institutions that does not also involve cultivating a healthy relationship with the clergy who lead those institutions. Lay members, even highly connected leaders of congregations and denominational agencies, often do not understand what makes the clergy tick; they certainly cannot speak for the clergy, even of their own denomination.

This paper attempts to explain to laypersons what clergy are all about, so that Scouters can work with local clergy more effectively to plant new units, support existing units, and improve the overall program of Scouting.

Clergy and Scouting: Part the Next

I. Attitudes of clergy toward Scouting

A. Back in the day . . .

As stated above, at one time, most clergy -- particularly, Protestant clergy -- were favorably inclined toward Scouting. Many participated personally as Scoutmasters. The impact of the adult male role model upon impressionable boys was fully appreciated. The emphasis upon character formation in Scouting was congruent with the clergy's goals.

What happened?Collapse )

Clergy and Scouting: Still comin'

II. The role of the clergy in the religious institution

Many of those who seek to engage clergy on behalf of Scouting do not understand what the clergy's actual role in the religious institution they lead is. This leads them to seek from the clergy support or services that the clergyperson is unable or disinclined to give.Collapse )