Healthy Outposts in the Smaller Church
The purpose of the Royal Rangers ministry is to reach boys with the gospel of Jesus Christ, connect them with Christlike men, and lead them through a process of growth into Christlike manhood. Our goal is that every boy be introduced to the Savior and brought to an understanding of His purpose for his life. But ministry leaders in smaller churches often face unique challenges that require them to implement their ministries in alternative formats that achieve their ministry objectives while working within the context of their environment.
The Royal Rangers program provides adequate flexibility to enable churches of any size to conduct effective mentoring ministries for boys, even though some aspects of the program may require implementation in unique ways. The following provides a conceptual blueprint for conducting a healthy, effective Royal Rangers program within a smaller church setting.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY OUTPOST?
A healthy outpost may be defined as one that effectively applies the “seven methods” of Royal Rangers to achieve the mission of the program within the unique context of their church and community. The seven methods represent the key components that should be present in every Royal Rangers program in some way, and most of them can be applied in smaller churches in essentially the same way as in larger ones:
- Friendship: bringing men and boys together around activities of common interest
- Activities: providing a diversity of activities that include outdoor events, sports, trade skills, technology, and arts
- Interactive Learning: learning fun things in hands-on, interactive ways
- Group Identity: be part of something “big” and meaningful
- Service: providing opportunities for boys to live out their faith through service to others
But two of the methods—the Patrol System and the Advancement System—may need to be applied in a slightly different way in smaller churches where the entire Royal Rangers program may only consist of a handful of boys. For example, if an outpost were to be comprised of only (1) Ranger Kid, (2) Discovery Rangers, (1) Adventure Ranger, and (1) Expedition Ranger, the traditional application of these two methods may not be feasible. In an outpost like this, it is likely that all the boys would be kept together in one group rather than in four separate age groups. The number of leaders or meeting rooms available in a smaller church may also dictate that all boys be kept together in one group.
In a situation such as this, these two methods – the Patrol System and the Advancement System – could be applied in the following manner.
The purpose of the patrol system is to give boys the opportunity to work together as a team and participate in the leadership of their group. This can be achieved in a smaller, combined group setting as well as a larger group. In a combined group as described above, the entire group can be treated as one patrol with the older boys naturally serving as the patrol leaders. Leadership duties can be shared among the boys according to their abilities with the group leader serving in an advisory role as he would in any outpost.
Advancement within a combined group could be handled in several different ways. The Royal Rangers advancement system consists of a series of four advancement “trails,” one for each age group. Each trail consists of a series of advancement “steps.” Boys earn steps by earning a specified number of “merits” of a specified type and color. Merits are earned by completing a specified set of merit requirements that are unique to that merit.
Although the Royal Rangers advancement system and all award requirements are fixed and not subject to change, the outpost does have the freedom to determine the degree to which the advancement system will be used. Outpost leaders are empowered to apply the advancement system as needed to fit their unique setting and environment.
For example, one outpost may choose to ignore the advancement system altogether and present no awards of any kind, while another outpost may choose to present merits but not advancement steps. Both options have advantages and disadvantages that outpost leaders must evaluate in determining the best plan for their setting, and neither would provide all the benefits of utilizing the full advancement system. However, these options may provide a more suitable solution for smaller outposts with combined groups.
The following table provides additional details on this concept: Advancement System Options
Regardless of the way the methods of the Royal Rangers program are applied, the objectives of the program remain the same—to evangelize boys for Christ, mentor them into true Biblical manhood, and engage them in service to “God, (their) church, and (their) fellowman.” The way in which this is accomplished within an outpost is left to the leadership of the church to determine as they are directed by the Holy Spirit. That’s the ultimate mission of all ministries in all churches, whether large or small.