Battalion Meeting Tonight!

Rangers, Junior Rangers and Boys in grades 7-12 are welcome to come to our kickoff meeting tonight.

From 7 PM to 7:30 PM we will conduct a planning and organization workshop for our Monday night Stockade ministry.  We will discuss what’s been going well, what we can do better, and we’ll be introducing our new workbook materials which have just arrived from CSB Ministries.

su20event20kitFrom 7:30 to 9 PM we will cover the first session in our study called “Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood” which is a DVD and workbook program produced by Family Life Ministries.  Workbooks are essential to the study, and we have a very limited supply of workbooks for the first session.  Workbooks cost $12 each so please bring cash or a check, or you can purchase your own online at any number of suppliers (Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, et.al.)

Generally, the video session runs about 35 minutes and the remainder of time is engaged in group discussion about the video topic and questions from the workbook.  In between group meeting sessions, there are workbook exercises for individuals to complete.

Hope to see you tonight.  Lower Auditorium.

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Battalion Meetings (grades 7-12)

ALTERNATING FRIDAY NIGHT PROGRAM LAUNCHES OCTOBER 7th:
This year, we are trying an experiment by relaunching a modified Battalion program for boys in grades 7-12.  This program will meet on alternating Friday nights from 7 to 9 PM in the lower auditorium: 
  • First 30 minutes reserved for planning for Monday night meetings (arrive by 7), and
  • the second block of time (arrive by 7:30), is for a video, workbook and discussion based bible study called “Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood” (Preview videos:
The bible study is suitable for teens thru all adult ages, and I’d encourage Battalion cadets / Junior Rangers to invite their dad to attend if possible (not a requirement, but they may find it highly engaging to walk through the program side-by-side with their sons) Our church will require each adult to fill out a youth volunteer application and submit to a background check (but it’s pretty painless!)
The schedule for Friday Night meetings is:
  • October 7
  • October 21
  • November 4
  • November 18
  • December 2

The Stepping Up series is 10 segments long, this group of five meeting nights carries us halfway through the program, allowing us to finish it in the Spring.

There is a cost for the workbook – I’m shopping around the internet to find the lowest possible price now, and will send an update (It’s likely to be about $6-$7).  I’m not planning refreshments on Fridays at this time, but would be open to bringing coffee/juice/tea with an offering basket to offset costs, etc.  If we want to do something more, we’ll discuss at the first meeting and perhaps someone can take charge of that part of the meeting planning, etc.

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Brigade Experience 2016

Today, we had the opportunity to receive regional training and a National update on what’s happening with the ministry.

Offering a total of ten different workshops over the course of three time periods, we found that there was “something for everyone” — whether very experienced or brand new to the program.

Peter Westerman offered a three part series to enable adult leaders to become “certified” with basic training on: “Brigade Principles”; “Brigade Ministries Overview”; and “Leadership Skills”.

Joel Fiscus, from our National support team, offered a pair of workshops:  “Fatherless No More” (delving into ways leaders can better support boys from single parent homes) and “leaving a legacy” (looking at ways to build up bench strength in adult leaders so that the program will continue at your church).

Ron Rynd offered two sessions: “Why Achievement?” (promoting the value of the achievement program for boys to feel a sense of accomplishment and goal setting); “Brigade Chairman” (covering the distinct mission of the Brigade Chairman position and how it is different from the role of Chief Ranger)

Duanne Moeller from Rutherford Bible Chapel offered a workshop designed to help familiarize leaders on the various stockade booklets, leaders guides and other deliverables.

Andy Puttbach had a seminar on getting your unit ready for a Shape N Race event (pinewood derby).

Paul Farrell covered how to leverage social media to better connect with parents, church supporters and the local community.

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Article on Christian Service Brigade

Occasionally, a news magazine or newsletter will offer a profile story on various youth development programs.  Recently, Christian Today offered an article on CSB.  To see the full article, click here.

While the article begins with a premise that leads to a question;

A 77-year-old Christian organisation is offering an alternative to scouting after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided to allow openly gay adult leaders and employees into its ranks.

The CSB Ministries, the parent organisation of Christian Service Brigade, said in a statement that with the BSA’s decision, “churches that host Boy Scout troops are faced with an important and difficult decision.”

“Do they keep their affiliation with the Scouts and support this change or find biblical alternatives for their boys and men?” it asked.

IMGP6935Many former scouters left BSA to join CSB (and, arguably, other youth development programs) for deeper reasons than the change in membership policy at BSA.  For many parents and volunteers, it was BSA’s steady movement towards promoting a pluralistic view of religion — that all religions are equally valid (or equally invalid) at fulfilling spiritual growth within individuals which runs contrary to John 14:6.  All may come to the Father by Jesus, His Son, but allowing BSA to teach my sons that God could be a rock, a babbling brook or the spirit of the East Wind ran counter to our efforts at religious instruction at home (if you are interested, see my article “Boy Scouts Compromise Happened Long Ago“)

The Christian Today article does provide a nice overview of the CSB program:

The Christian Service Brigade has been hosting programmes for boys and young men in local churches since 1938. The programmes it offers include scripture and leadership skills, focusing on the spiritual, physical, mental and social development of boys.

“Brigade empowers men in the local church to disciple and mentor boys and young men, through action-based programmes and resources,” said Scott Haima, president of CSB Ministries. “We encourage and equip strong Christian men to model and teach biblical manhood. We have refined our approach for 77 years, and we understand the needs and unique challenges that churches face.”

The article also provides a unique connection that should captivate youth pastors and senior pastors, alike:

A Barna Research revealed that 59 percent of Christians leave their church by age 30, thus draining the future leadership pool of churches.

The CSB Ministries said programs that teach leadership and service to Christ are a way of preventing this.

The inclusion of both service projects and ministry projects in many units (especially at the Battalion level of junior-senior high aged boys) helps build bonds between young and CSB imageold and show the need for young men to participate actively and consistently in their local church (as opposed to becoming a Sunday morning absentee).

In our church, we have a mix of boys from church member families, and boys from the community at large (either attending other churches or not attending other churches).  This provides opportunities for offering the gospel message during our story circle time, and to provide a positive role-model testimony to these boys.

We are beginning to plan our 2016-2017 season now.  It’s a good program that provides boys with helpful mentoring and that’s important.  As Rick Bundschuh, author of Passed Through Fire, has been quoted, 

The men of the church will have to get deeply involved in order for boys to become men through watching and emulating them. The imprinter of manhood that every boy seeks comes from one place only: other men.

To view a CSB Ministries comparison table, click here.

Pass The Torch Training Conference

On March 11th, my sons and I drove six hours to Buffalo, NY to participate in certified leader’s training with CSB Ministries – the team that provides the Christian Service Brigade Curriculum for boys in grades 1 thru 12 AND works to support “Iron Sharpens Iron” men’s conferences.

We’ve been involved in supporting our local Stockade group (3rd grade to 6th grade) and having a scouting background, we were itching to “get fully trained” (a big push in scouting – a trained leader is someone who is equipped to make things happen).

This session was titled “Pass the Torch” which emphasizes our need to be role models in our own church and community. We carry a fire within us and need to share that fire with others. Passing the torch isn’t like passing a baton in a relay race – for in that instance, the runner has completed his leg of the race and race is done for him – in our case, we each have our own unique race to run, but part of that mission is to share our light, help others catch fire, and continue to run our race until we finish and attain our tangible laurels (life everlasting).IMGP6812 (2)

The Apostle Paul said “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:22) We Group Effort for Firehave a mandate to pass the torch to other men of all ages – we do that in many ways: service to others, mentoring, accountability groups, bible study, attending events and conferences, being a strong leader in our home, raising our sons and daughters with deep knowledge and reverence of God and His Word.

Participation in “Christian Education” ministries is often neglected or under served by men. Sunday school teaching, small group leading, and even coming to “men’s outings” tends to be declining over the past decade or two. Men can encourage others by simply showing up, and accomplish more by sharing a vision for the growth of the church.

IMGP6935Christian Service Brigade and Iron Sharpens Iron ministries help with all of that. The keynote speaker also reminded us that man’s torch that isn’t lit, is simply a stick he carries for no good purpose. It’s designed to give light and heat, but if it’s just another stick then the man can do nothing valuable with it to serve others. We all need to be “BRIGHT AND KEEN FOR CHRIST” all the time.

At this training event, there were five time slots for training and 16 topics presented (listed below). Stephen attended the certification sessions and my son Joshua and I attended a mix of other topics.

We’re trying to figure out how to pass our torches to the other men in our church by sharing our experience.

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Topic: How To Tell A Story (A Story Paints A Picture)

Presenter: Peter Westerman, Denville, NJ – CSB Ministries Staff Associate

Everyone likes a good story! Storytelling is a terrific way to teach spiritual lessons. It has a universal appeal. There’s not one young man in your Stockade or Battalion who doesn’t like a good story. A good story commands attention. It sticks in the mind. A boy will tell the story he heard at a Stockade meeting to his parents when he gets home. He’ll tell it to his friends. Some stories he will remember for a lifetime. Just think how many stories you heard as a child that you could still remember. That’s why the Brigade encourages storytelling. Storytelling is a challenging skill that demands some time, effort, and a bit of courage to develop. This skill can be developed and you can be a more effective storyteller.

Topic: The Certified CSB Leader Experience (Part 1 of 3)

Presenter: Ron Rynd, Rutherford, NJ – CSB Ministries Regional Director

Why each Church needs to build Godly men of Today and Tomorrow. Examining the foundational principles and rationale for a church-based Christ-centered ministry to men and boys.

Topic: Fatherless No More

Presenter: Joel Fiscus, Christiana, PA – CSB Ministries Vice President of Field Staff

We will examine the unique needs and challenges in effectively reachng the fatherless boys in your unit. You will leave with proven strategies that will empower you in pointing them to the (Heavenly) Father they never had while you model Christian manhood through your leadership and discipleship.

Topic: Gaining and Retaining Leaders

Presenter: Dale Kinkade, Leavittsburg, OH – CSB Ministries Regional Director

Gaining and retaining ministry leaders is no easy task. There is so much to do, but so few step up to the plate. Light the torch of leadership in your ministry by shifting from a task oriented process to a relational experience.

Topic: 3M – Making the Most of the Modules

Presenter: Bill Mellien, Eau Claire, WI – CSB Ministries Regional Director

The new Stockade modules are great but they are a guideline. Straight talk and discussion about how we can enhance our boys experience and point them toward Jesus in each module.

Topic: Everyone Communicates – Few Connect

Presenter: Scott Haima, Hamburg, NY – CSB Ministries President

World-renowned leadership expert John C. Maxwell says if you want to succeed, you must learn how to connect with people. And while it may seem like some folks are just born with it, the fact is anyone can learn how to make every communication an opportunity for a powerful connection.

Topic: Not Easily Broken

Presenter: David Gregg, Oakdale, CA – CSB Ministries Regional Director

The vital need for men to walk alongside one another.

Topic: Be a Battalion Innovator!

Presenter: Arden Musselman, Elverson, PA – CSB Ministries Regional Director

Here’s how you can contribute your Battalion’s experience and share your original activity patch material with many other units. Using the Battalion Developers Kit

Topic: How to love a human being, especially if you are one

Presenter: Kevin De Kam, Byron Center, MI – CSB Ministries Regional Director

Our current perspectives are shaped by our past experiences. Learn how your story affects the way you view yourself, others, the world, even God, then how to accomplish the “superhuman” feat of looking through another person’s lens in order to more effectively care for the boy in your unit, the man in your ministry, your co-worker, spouse…

Topic: The Certified CSB Leader Experience (Part 2 of 3)

Presenter: Ron Rynd, Rutherford, NJ – CSB Ministries Regional Director

How to Build a Ministry for Godly Men of Today and Tomorrow. Developing a sound understanding of inter-generational relationships and the dynamics of male discipleship

Topic: The Certified CSB Leader Experience (3 of 3)

Presenter: Ron Rynd, Rutherford, NJ – CSB Ministries Regional Director

What’s in a program that Builds Godly men of Today and Tomorrow? A. Constructing an effective ministry for active junior-age boys (Stockade) in and through your church. or III-b. What’s in a program that Builds Godly Men of Today and Tomorrow? B.Constructing an effective ministry for active teen young men (Battalion) in and through your church.

Topic: get M.A.D. – Making a Difference

Presenter: Bill Mellien, Eau Claire, WI – CSB Regional Director

A seminar on the need in today’s world for men to “Build Strong Boys”. As dads (as men) what is our Biblical responsibility for discipling boys and young men? Statistics and Biblical truth as related to Mentoring And Discipling.

Topic: Men’s Ministry vs Ministry to Men

Presenter: Wayne Burroughs, Alexander, NY – Man in the Mirror Area Director

An overview of the No Man Left Behind model followed by an interactive discussions on intentional applications of the “all-inclusive mindset”.

Topic: Evangelism in Every Day Life

Presenter: Bishop Maurice Curry, Buffalo, NY – Covenant Brothers Men’s Ministry

Topic: Building Relationships Through Events

Presenter: Keith Clark, Springville, NY – Pastor Springville Crossing Church

Men need time together to build trust and open the communications lines. Providing non-threatening environments to begin to and continue to build such trust is also critical. Discussion of ways to balance meetings and events so that we can more effectively minister to men who might otherwise avoid ministries that could help them.

Topic: Men’s Ministry 101

Presenter: Stuart Burton, Arcade, NY – Pastor, Crosstown Alliance Church

In this session we will look at some of the basics of Men’s Ministry. We will look at things like: Why we need Men’s Ministry? What does an effective Men’s Ministry look like? Why is it different than Women’s Ministry? And then finally how do we get started or even adjust the Men’s Ministry that we already have? In a world that is fighting for the next generation we need to have a battle plan of our own. That battle plan should include an active Men’s Ministry. Let’s see if we can figure out how to make that happen.

Goal of Youth Programs?

monkey bridge 1When I was a Scoutmaster with BSA, our unit would be visited by families who asked how our group ran its meetings, placed its priorities, and what the family could expect from the experience.  All good questions!

Sometimes, the questions became much more specific and it was obvious from conversation that the family was looking for something particular in their experience from scouting.  Questions like;

How many nights of camping per month?

What is the average number of merit badges completed by the scouts during troop meetings, at special workshops, and during summer camp?

How many Eagle Scouts had been produced so far, and what was the ratio of Eagles to non-Eagles?

What was our plan to help their son achieve Eagle rank in the shortest amount of time possible?

These parents meant well for their sons, I’m sure.  Their goals were to help their sons gain a credential of success and achievement – something to put on their resume to help gain admission to a premier college or university, or to get through interviews to get a “better” job at a “good” company.

Everyone approaches youth group participation with their own expectations, and in most cases, families like the ones described above, tended to leave our group after a single visit and never return.  Our focus IMGP7151was on a more wholistic approach to youth leadership and participation.  We wanted the boys to plan, organize and run the meetings and trips.  The adults were there for safety’s sake.

This tended to make meetings more chaotic, and we didn’t accomplish as much (as fast) as many families might have preferred.

Still, our goal was for the boys to learn for themselves so that they would thrive at any job, school or college experience.  The goal wasn’t to do it for them, but for them to figure it out.

We also had a higher purpose to the camping, hiking and pinewood car races.  We wanted to use these fun events as a stage to talk about God and His purposes and plans for our lives.

Look at this statement from Dave Gregg, Regional Director of CSB…

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This perspective is one that we tried to embrace within scouting, but were surrounded by competing ideologies – mainly that moral behavior does not depend on defining the source of those morals, nor does it require a clear definition of who “God” is…

Instead, we found that participation in a God-First youth program enables us to teach boys the good news that:

  • God made them to fulfill a calling or specific plan (Ephesians 2:10);
  • He loves us and wants what is best for us (Rom. 8:28, James 1:16-17, Heb. 13:5, Isaiah 41:10);
  • He’s not “done” with us (Philippians 1:6, Romans 12:1-2);
  • He’s active in our daily lives (Joshua 1:8-9, Isaiah 40:31, 1 Peter 5:7, 1 Cor. 10:13, Matt 11:28)

…and this teaching of good news gives them hope, faith and endurance to run the marathon of life (Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 12:1-17, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, Proverbs 16:3).

What are your family’s goals for youth group participation?  What outcomes are you hoping to recognize from your son’s time at the club meeting?  There’s nothing wrong with learning survival skills, or learning lessons from God’s word, either.  How about getting both from a single program?

“Herald of Christ” Award

CSB Ministries, founded in 1937 by Joe Coughlin as a weekly club program to better challenge his restless Sunday School class of boys, has grown and evolved to be a significant ministry to men and boys in both USA and Canada.  From their website, here’s a little more about their history:

At first, they met for games and Bible study, but the young collegian [Mr. Coughlin] soon added crafts, marching and eventually a set of achievement tests based on a knighthood theme. He took the boys on hikes and cut notches on their walking sticks to indicate their particular accomplishments. More boys came and Coughlin recruited his friend, Warren Wigand, to help him. In the summer of 1938, Coughlin wrote a small handbook that outlined the ranks boys could achieve. A parallel girls’ program, eventually called Pioneer Girls, took root among Wheaton College coeds and became a partner in Coughlin’s mission.

One of the aspects of their program that I admire most is their “Herald of Christ” award.  It really shouldn’t be compared to other youth program’s awards except to say that it represents the pinnacle of advancement within their program.  However, it remains highly distinctive for a number of reasons which ought to be relevant to Christians:

  1. While there is a strong component of youth-led (self-led and group participation) advancement steps, it’s not solely a skills or learning award.
  2. There is a prolonged period of mentorship, bible study, scripture memorization, written reflections on select scriptures and a final 1000 word essay summarizing his personal reflection on his faith.
  3. There are two intensive service projects — one three month community service effort and another three month church ministry effort.

It is a rare event for a boy to complete this award since it requires a solid, focused commitment – especially for someone in their teenage years.

On June 12th, 2014, the 746th “Herald of Christ” award was presented.  This award is far more difficult to complete and represents an amazing challenge as compared to the Hornaday Silver Award (1,100 awarded since 1914) or BSA’s Eagle (more than 2.3 million awarded since 1912).  Admittedly, the CSB program draws fewer members than, say Boy Scouts of America or 4-H Clubs, but that does NOT undermine the genuine respect or admiration of the hard work and discipline needed to complete the award’s requirements.

The Bible talks about believers appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ (aka the Bema Seat Judgment) (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Cor5:10, et.al.) where we might receive reward/award for how we lived our lives.  Paul talks about running a race to receive a prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) and reminds Timothy (2 Tim 2:5) that an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

NLI pic 9How we live our lives, how we choose what to pursue in our work, play and rest times, can directly serve God and fulfill his directives as delivered through scriptures or we can sit idly by (or overindulge in permissive activities that have little to no eternal significance) as time passes.  We have a wide degree of latitude to pursue hobbies and such, but when we’re standing before Jesus (who gave His own life on your behalf) will we have regrets that we could have done more to spread the gospel message to our families, friends, community?  Will we watch as all our vain pursuits are burned up by a consuming fire?

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 – “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

So, as a father of two sons and as an Eagle scout, I find myself pondering what I would do if I could start over and personally pursue a “Herald of Christ” award as a boy.  I believe it’s clear that it would have helped me invest time and energy in my IMGP6811community, church and my personal relationship with God in a much more intimate way that could have had generational and eternal repercussions.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that my time invested in Boy Scouts was a wasted or an ill-conceived effort, or that it’s not a valuable experience — it is! Certainly, a Christian man can live a highly dedicated and highly effective, life accomplishing God’s plans and purposes whether he has ever pursued any sort of recognition award (or none at all), or by having participating in various programs (i.e. sports, clubs, etc.)

However, standing here with clear hindsight (and pondering about future hindsight in heaven) I still wonder if this alternate path would have paid much stronger dividends in my life than even the great experiences of participating in BSA, or other pursuits.

What can we do to encourage boys and men within the church to pursue Herald of Christ (HOC)?  

First, churches need to “own the responsibility” of treating their CSB units as a full fledged ministry of the church, not merely a club that gets “rent-free” space in their building once a week.  Youth pastors and senior pastors should be showing more than a casual interest in this youth discipling and evangelism program.

Second, the church and it’s unit team should recognize that CSB is actually a “Men’s Ministry” to the leaders, fathers and boys who are involved – not just a club that does sports, camps, or does crafty activities.  All of the “fun” is with purpose and design to help shape responsibility, teamwork, self-esteem, self-awareness, leadership and spiritual development.

Third, the church MUST offer Battalion for junior high and senior high ages.

  • This is the timeframe when most of the real work towards fulfilling the HOC award gets accomplished. Yet, many churches abandon CSB after sixth grade in favor of a co-ed youth group that is a bible study.  
  • The co-ed youth group has it’s place firmly established, but offering CSB is neither competitive to that program nor a distraction from it — they serve distinct purposes and may actually draw in greater numbers of participants in aggregate (some preferring one program over the other, but more coming through the doors of the church building than if only one program was presented)
  • The co-ed youth group’s purposes are not defined as a men’s ministry, but teen boys do need this type of direction — to prepare them for becoming adult men, potential husbands, potential fathers.  The time to get them ready is not the night before the wedding nor the night before they take home their first baby from the hospital!

Fourth, the church must support CSB fully. Shoestring budgets will hinder the ability of the team to provide a genuinely exciting program with a mix of activities to build and maintain interest.  Running an effective CSB unit need not be a drain on finances either; however, access to craft supplies, photocopiers, bulletin announcements, etc. can go a long way to helping the leaders focus on the message instead of logistics.

Fifth, CSB’s support of it’s own program needs to continually be revised and expanded.

  • Training and equipping new generations of volunteers builds a strong baseline of knowledge experts “in the field” This may be the responsibility of regional directors, but online presentations can help provide a ready reference throughout the year as volunteers may join at any time
  • Publicizing HOC, it’s value, it’s benefits and equipping local churches to do the same will help attract new people (and more churches) to the ministry.  HOC Award should not be a “best kept secret” from anyone.
  • Adjust marketing efforts to help the local community (of non-church-attenders) recognize the value of getting their sons (and fathers!) involved at a local church. This approach doesn’t go around the local church’s back, but instead helps generate interest in the local church as a community resource.  At the very least, help churches to see the value and provide them with resources that they can use to educate, demonstrate and excite.

As someone new to Christian Service Brigade, I’m sure I’ve left a lot uncovered, but the value of HOC is that it can:

  • change a boy’s heart forever,
  • help a boy become a Godly man ready for BIG challenges and opportunities
  • affect multiple generations to come
  • prepare a boy for eternity
  • help a boy become closer to God in a way that can’t help but positively affect and influence others around him for the remainder of his life.

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