Scouting for new believers

Published 6:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Entwined amongst lessons on canoeing and starting fires, Scouts around Shelby County are learning more about God and values through church-sponsored Scouting units.

“Parents get their kids involved in Scouting because they want them to learn values. That is what the church is all about — building in Christian character,” said A.J. Smith, whose son, James, is a Webelo II with Pack 540 of Concord Baptist Church.

Smith was recently elected the executive vice-president for the Association of Baptists for Scouting during a trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. He said the ABS wants to entice more Baptist churches to look into Scouting as a valuable ministry.

“The first aspect of Scouting is to do your duty to God,” said A.J. Smith of Alabaster, who recently took over as. “That is the first order of business.”

He said not only do boys learn how to tie ropes, they also learn morals parallel to those in the Bible. He said they aim to be trustworthy, loyal, brave and thrifty.

“You can look at the Bible and all of those character traits can be found. It’s a natural fit,” Smith said.

Smith said one of the most important things for churches that host Cub Scouts is to truly take ownership. He said when the church’s pastor or youth pastor are visible, it gives kids insight into the people that make up the congregation. He said it also shows them what faith looks like.

“Getting to know those key people goes a long way to connect the scouts and their families with the church,” Smith said. “It’s not pressuring them, but showing them that people within the church are just like them. They get to see what a relationship with Christ looks like.”

Scouting ministries start out each gathering in prayer. When they are away on a trip that falls on a Sunday, they make a point of having the Scouts lead a Sunday service. They also offer the Boy Scouts of America’s Religious Emblems program to allow Scouts to advance in rank.

The ABS plans to use a wide variety of technology to get the word out. Smith said any church interested in chartering a scout unit can request a DVD with information.

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