Dear Church Family,
About four years ago, even though I had no personal experience with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), my two oldest sons joined a local Boy Scout troop. I never became an official leader in the Boy Scouts, but I attended and became involved in the troop as much as I could. When my sons were new scouts, they had to memorize and explain the meaning of the Scout Oath. I remember listening in as their scout master asked them the meaning of each part of the oath.
When he finally got to the last phrase of the oath – a promise “to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight” – the scout master asked, “What does it mean to be ‘morally straight’”? One of my sons began to think out loud, “Well, the moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.” If you know the Westminster Shorter Catechism, you’ll recognize this wording from question #41. But he continued, “So, to keep yourself morally straight would probably mean to try and keep the ten commandments.” The scout master readily accepted that answer.
Since that episode about four years ago, some things have changed in the BSA. Effective January 1, 2014, their policy officially changed its stance toward homosexuality stating that “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” On July 10, 2015, the executive committee of the BSA voted unanimously to approve a policy change that would end the national ban on homosexual adult leaders. Today, the definition of ‘morally straight’ which my son gave (in which he was simply affirming the ten commandments as a summary of God’s moral law) would no longer be acceptable in the BSA.
I don’t think that one could say that the Boy Scouts of America was ever a Christian organization, but the organization has certainly changed with the culture and not manifested the kind of leadership that its creed and ethos espouses. But why do I bring all this up? For one thing, I think it’s important that we understand what is going on in the world around us and how the ethics and morality of the world are so very different from that of the Bible and a biblically-based Christian faith.
I also bring it up because last year about this time, I wrote about the importance for Christian men discipling young men in the church and the relatively new ministry that we had begun at Providence Presbyterian Church (PPC) called “Battalion.” As part of a larger national organization called Christian Service Brigade (which has been in existence for over 75 years), Battalion is a ministry of PPC where adult men in the church build relationships with young men (ages 12-18), encouraging and discipling them to grow in Christian maturity.
Christian Service Brigade: Battalion & Stockade
Our Battalion unit at PPC has been in existence for about one and a half years now. It’s been a growing experience for us all (adult and young men, alike), but we have a core group of about ten young men and adult leaders who meet regularly at the church on Wednesday nights (7:00-8:30 pm) during the school year; we have hands-on projects, skill badges, adult-led Bible studies, and games. In about a month, on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, we will begin our new year of Battalion.
Additionally, we are excited to be adding the Stockade unit for boys, ages 8-11. Trey Harper will be leading the Stockade unit at PPC, and we already have a couple of adult men in the church, along with a core group of boys in this age group. They have committed to come together as the fledgling Stockade unit at PPC beginning in September. Both groups (Stockade and Battalion) will meet at the same time on Wednesday nights in the church fellowship hall. The units will begin and end together, but each group will have its own separate activities, agenda, and studies appropriate to their ages.
If you’d like to learn some more about the Battalion and Stockade ministries at PPC, you may find out more at the Christian Service Brigade page on our church website: http://providencemidland.org/ministries/christian-service-brigade. This page has been recently updated to reflect the addition of our Stockade unit, and will continually be refined and updated as we go along.
An Open Invitation
If you are an adult male member of the church who is interested in helping in the leadership of these groups, please let me know. Or, if you know of any boys or young men, ages 8-18 (or parents of boys or young men) who may be interested, please point them in our direction. Encourage them to come visit us when we begin meeting in September. Adult leadership is limited to those who are members of our congregation, but participation is open to boys and young men from the church and the local community.
Our hope is that the Christian Service Brigade units at our church will provide a healthy and effective ongoing discipleship ministry for the men and ‘men in training’ in our congregation. And, we hope that we will be able to reach out to those in our local community, as well – to provide a biblically-based, Christian alternative to what the world has to offer.
Please pray for our Christian Service Brigade units – for the leaders and participants of Battalion and Stockade – as we begin a new year of discipleship this fall!
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch