- Rev Melissa Fain -
Last Sunday afternoon I found myself scrambling from Fig Tree Christian, to my home to pick up my son, so we could help set up for Cub Scout Day Camp that is happening this week in my district. I'm a tour guide. Behind the scenes we are called Den Leaders. Along with another adult, I've been tasked with guiding fourteen Wolves (Rising 2nd grade) and my one Tiger (Rising 1st grade) through an explosion of fun and learning. It's a blast! These kids, the boys and girls, want to get out there and shoot bows and arrows, and BB guns. They want to stamp leather, and learn about the 6 essentials every Cub needs to go on a hike. They are excited about earning belt loops for their new rank. More than that, I know what they are doing and why they are doing it. For the past four years, I was my son's den leader, walking him through Wolf (2nd grade) to Arrow of Light (5th grade). Now I'm doing it again with my rising 1st grade daughter this Fall, as I step up to be a girl Tiger den leader.
How did I get here? Back at the beginning of my son's second grade year, he had just finished his first and only season of baseball. We were trying to find something for him to do on our super slim budget of nothing plus a few bucks. This was during the time I was counting pennies to purchase groceries. We couldn't afford expensive equipment, and neither of us could take off for crazy schedules or travelling. That's when Cub Scouts came in, and boldly stated: Your boy can have a full experience for only $12 a month. We had to look at our finances and figure what we had to move to make that work, but somehow we did. My son was in. Then, during orientation, the Committee Chair said something else: We are short a few den leaders. We have a new wolf den in need of a leader.
Have you ever been called to something secular in nature? I'm sure there are tons of Christians that are called to secular positions and jobs. I felt I needed to take on that leadership position, but I approached it as Jonah approached Ninivah, in the most Eeyore tone possible, I told the Committee chair I'd take on a leadership position. Part of me was relieved when a month or so afterwards, the den turned out to be too small and we were melded with another den. Relieved because rank advancement was serious business even for the Cubs, and it was like looking at a foreign language I had to learn and teach!
But then, that summer, the Cub Master sat me down, with my son's Den Leader and asked the question: "Will you take over this den?" The current Den Leader was moving over to the den where all of her son's friends were. It left a hole that no one wanted to fill. (There was that call again.) I said yes, and the next thing I knew I was in charge of eight boys and their advancement.
Now, as I walk around with those little kids at Day Camp, something has been given to me that I didn't think I'd see in this setting. Honest to goodness community. I was starting conversations with people I haven't met in months, like I just saw them last week. I feel a core connection with those who I don't even know around me, as we all understand the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and try to live by it. I get the other Wolf leaders, and understand the wide eyed terror as it's like they've been thrown in the deep end without a life vest. These are my people. I am there's. It frankly scared me, and I had to step away to reflect.
I was scared because Scouts is giving me something vital that church has stopped supplying. (At least the physical brick and mortar churches.) Real community in Churches is quickly becoming the spiritual source that is drying out and disappearing. Just like one doesn't consider finding an oasis in the desert, even if they yearn for one, Scouts have quenched my need for communal relationship. Realizing I was getting that from a secular institution caused me to recall a scripture: "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also." (Matt 18:20)
Church is made for a communal connection with God. It's necessary, and I submit, primary to being called a Church. When two or more gather, it's not good enough just to put two Christians in the same room. I've been in a room with fellow Christians where I would not call that interaction, "Church." It's the "in my name," part that has to stand for something. Are you gathering because you are trying to keep people inside a building or because you are worshiping God? I believe the prior becomes like a millstone around all the congregant's necks, dragging them down into the abyss..
I know BSA has been in the news recently with their inclusion of girls. No matter what you think about their choices for Cub Scouts and BSA, they get community. As my Tiger Daughter begins her journey in Cub Scouting, I know exactly what she will be taught, I know the BSA has some of the best rules for boundaries and safe spaces, I know myself and the leaders around me are well trained. I am connected in a visceral way to those around me, and that connection will be for the rest of my life.
Why is it so hard now to say the same of church?