Update 2020-11-22
Listen to this update: Listen to "2020-11-22 Trail Life USA MN & ND Update - Is it time to give up on Trail Life?" on Spreaker.

This update is a bit different than our previous update. Because of the continuing effects of COVID on our communities and troops, and after talking with a number of different troop leaders, I thought it might be more helpful to share some thoughts about what I've been experiencing - with the hope that it might help you when you're dealing with everything that is going on at your troop.

I'll be honest, for the past week or two it has been a bit depressing considering everything that is going on in our world.

We're dealing with an on-going election process that who knows how things will turn out. We continue to have protests, riots, and more and more shootings in the streets (at least here in the metro area). Other states have tried to completely shut-down churches. And this week our Governor 'dialed it back' here in MN.

Some of our charter organizations have or are considering scaling back ministries like Trail Life, and a couple have put 'regular' troop meetings completely on 'pause' for an undetermined amount of time. Other troops are just getting started and are trying to keep enough leaders in place amidst the quarantine periods to cover all the new boys they have.

Campgrounds are closing once again (due to COVID, not the weather). Other activity locations are limiting their availability or completely closed. Schools are going into distance learning mode so many of our boys are stuck at home all day, all week. Even the home school co-ops are pausing their activities.

And we haven't been able to give a Trailman Handshake since March!

It is VERY tempting to just say "lets stop troop ministry and wait until this all 'blows over'". We could just sit in our homes and work from home (if that is possible) and do school at home and not go outside for anything (other than walking the dog).

But that's not at all in keeping with our base goal for Trail Life - raising up Godly men who will be leaders of their families, churches, and communities. Leaders don't sit back and wait for things to happen, they MAKE things happen. They take what skills, opportunities, and limitations that they have and use those to find a way to lead amidst the adversity.

They take seriously the directive ...

"to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another;" (Hebrews 10:24b-25a)

It is important for those of us who are leading our own group of trailmen to not get swept up (or buried under) that long list of 'what we can't do' and to look at the possibilities of what we CAN do.

  • How CAN we meet together?
  • How CAN we encourage one another?
  • What Good Deeds can we do?

I don't think any of us like the restrictions that we have on us right now. We'd all love to just pack up the troop and go camping for a few days without restrictions. But these limitations that we are under right now are not just an evidence of a fallen world, but also permitted to happen by God's sovereign will. And just maybe, he has something for us to learn during this time - something for both our trailmen and us adult leaders.

It's not wrong to express our frustration with this fallen world - Paul did it many times. However, he made a conscious decision to continue to "remain and continue ... for ... progress and joy in the faith" (from Phil 1:25).

We must make that conscious and intentional decision, for the sake of our boys and the church in our own community, so that the next generation will be ready for whatever they face in the years ahead. Allowing the challenges of today to harden us and prepare us for whatever battle we must face in the future.

So I challenge you to talk with the other leaders in your troop. Share the frustrations that you have so that you can bear one another's burdens, BUT move beyond that, just like Paul, and keep your focus on the goal - a new generation of Godly men that will give "ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:26)

How to make it happen

If you're struggling to figure out how you can still 'meet together', 'encourage one another', and do 'good deeds', we're putting together a list of 'creative' ways to continue ministering as a troop. You can CLICK HERE for the List of Meeting Ideas.