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.