No cause for celebration
I was running a quick errand to our local Boy Scout Council office this morning, where I met up with a fellow Council Board member. He informed me happily that he had a Troop in his District that was going to be dropped by their chartering organization -- a conservative church -- because of BSA's new membership policy, but that the leaders had already contacted a United Methodist congregation and were going to transfer to that organization.
We chatted a bit about the hit BSA is going to take in members and units as some people and organizations withdraw their support. There will be a fair number of people who are mad now, but who will calm down and continue -- though I'm guessing their level of volunteering and giving will drop significantly. And there are others, of course, who will let their membership expire or who will drop their charters and sever their orgs' connections to the Scouts. Nobody knows quite how big the hit will be, or how quickly BSA will recover from it.
But I gotta tell ya, to be seen as the go-to charter partner of last resort doesn't make me all kinds of happy. If I had some Scouters come to me, a UM pastor, asking for my church to assume their charter, I'd be asking some tough questions of them. When I ask, how do you see us in partnership,
I'd be expecting the typical answer, "all you have to do is give us a place to meet," etc. To which I would reply, I know what you expect of me; I want to know what I can expect from YOU. In what sense will your Troop/Pack/Crew be
OUR Scouting ministry?
From my point of view, merely re-flagging the ship so that a Liberian tanker becomes a Panamanian tanker is not any kind of improvement. If you don't understand the church's goals and want to advance them, why do you think we want you to be acting on our behalf?
I find that too many Scouters (even church-related ones) find it impossible to think in those terms. I sit on our Council Board and try to remind my fellows what the "charter partner concept" actually means. I am singing to the tone-deaf.
Of course, when I go to Annual Conference and talk to my fellow clergy, I am like a man doing shadow puppetry for the blind. *sigh*