For the last few weeks I’ve been helping out with the local Scouts and Cubs and I’ve got to admit it’s been fun. The next logical step was to offer to join the movement more formally as an assistant leader. Slightly scary, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m still waiting to hear from the powers that be, but on the assumption that I won’t be turned down I’ve been spending some time looking at the training that’s available.
I was pleased to discover that there are some very good online training resources. These very much attracted my ‘professional’ (if I dare use the word!) attention, because a part of my job that I haven’t really got to yet is the development of online learning materials for the Methodists of Wales. Looking at how the scouts have done it has been very instructive at several different levels.
Two things have struck me as having particular relevance for the Methodist Church. First, while the history of Scouting gets a mention in the training, it does not feature heavily. Instead, what are strongly emphasized are those things that make Scouting distinctive as a youth movement. While the course is carefully ‘ecumenical’, recognizing and affirming the contribution that other youth organisations make, Scouting is upfront about its uniqueness. The course materials continually refer back to Scouting’s principles and methods. There is definitely food for thought there.
Secondly, very early in the training materials there is a module headed “Growing the Movement’. A Christian reads that and thinks “evangelism”! New members are encouraged (and expected) to think about how they can contribute to telling others about the movement. ‘Evangelism’ isn’t something for specialists: it is regarded as a core activity for the whole movement.
That makes me think too. Pick out an average ‘Methodist in the pew’: I wonder if they’d be able to articulate the core principles of Methodism? Equally, how many have received even a basic introduction to evangelism?
As I start to pull together my thoughts for online courses, I feel like Scouting has offered me some timely reminders.