Editorial Note: The following article first appeared on Pathfindersonline.org but has many points also applicable to Adventurer ministry, so we are sharing it here as well.
It seems that every August and parts of September, our churches start anew with a bundle of activities. Summer is over and school is starting. Brand new dreams, brand new ideas for the year and it seems that in the church, children’s and youth ministries start anew also. With all that activity going on, parents seem overwhelmed as to what to choose for their children. There are many plans for activities and in those activities you have Club ministries: Adventurers, Pathfinders and Master Guides!
Many of you know about two of these ministries, which are targeted towards children and youth from ages 4 through high school. Master Guide ministry is recently nascent in North America, but is growing. These ministries are a staple in many churches and some churches exist because of the life that these ministries bring into them. Yes, they bring life into the church…let me explain:
At my first pastoral assignment as a lead pastor, I was given the opportunity to serve in a small 2 church district in south Texas. When we arrived at the district, there were some signs of discouragement, but the churches were a solid group. They were looking for ways to impact the community yet it seemed that any effort did not bring much in results. As I analyzed the situation, I became aware that we did not have much at all for our young people (it never happens that way in our churches right?). We had a few teens, and a few children under the age of 10, but there was no specific ministry that would get them excited. AY programs were not as productive as we wanted them to be. That is where club ministries came into my mind, so I decided to ask the question, “What about Pathfinders?"
I grew up camping, enjoying the activities of Adventurers, Pathfinders and Master Guides. How many times was I in a camp where it rained? Too many to count, but oh so much fun! Friendships were made, and memories were formed that I will never forget. Yes, I definitely learned some things (I still know a few knots and how to make a fire with 3 matches). What I also learned was a lot of Bible knowledge and SDA church history. My time in Club ministries made an impact in my life forever!
When I asked the question, “What about Pathfinders?” in my two churches, the response was not what I was expecting. Nobody wanted to, or knew exactly how to go about it. They had not had Pathfinders in close to 7 years and people had good memories of that but did not have the courage to go ahead and do something with that ministry. Since nobody said much about starting it, I decided that this ministry was worth my time and that I was going to be the Pathfinder Director for the club. We would have 1 club for both churches and we would start working towards going to Oshkosh for the International Camporee the following year. Most of the 10 newrecruits did not know what Pathfinders was nor know about the Camporee coming up, so we set out in faith to fundraise all the money needed to buy tents, equipment, the tickets for the camporee, as well as rent the bus to take us there (30+ hours up and 30+ hours down) -- all in basically a year.
The focus on ministry started to shift in both churches as they started to support the fundraisers, the families and the Pathfinders that were trying to go to camporee. Suddenly, there was a purpose and more families became involved in Pathfinders. Parents and family members started to come to church activities that included Pathfinders. Needless to say, when we arrived at Oshkosh, we had 31 people in the bus from our club and 21 from another club from South Texas. 16 Pathfinders and 15 staff members all the way from Texas to Wisconsin.
When the Pathfinders saw that there were thousands of other Pathfinders like them, they started to feel different. They were not just the small church club that had not much going on, but they were part of a big worldwide family and that made them feel proud!
After camporee, the following month of September, we restarted our Pathfinder year and the impact of that focus brought close to 20 Pathfinders for the second year, with kids from the community that started to come because of the Pathfinders that recruited them. Even the parents started to be more involved in not only the Pathfinder club but also in church activities. An Adventurer club started to take form in the minds of some members that had small children.
It all started with a Pathfinder club in a small district where nothing much was happening. Today, both churches are still in the Pathfinder ministry together, and not only that, the Adventurer club was formed and is a ministry that is also beneficial to both churches. More families are attending the church, and Adventurers and Pathfinders offer a program, for their children, that was not there before.
Do you want to bring new life into your church? Start an Adventurer Club, a Pathfinder club and if you have enough people, you can even start a Master Guide club. If you still don’t know what all these are, I invite you to check the following websites:
Also, contact your local Conference Youth Department to see how you can start or restart a club in your church. Believe me, it is one of the best ways to restart a church and bring life to it!