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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary

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The BB Company and the Church Strengthening The Partnership

Wednesday 21st August 2019

Steve Dickinson, Chaplain to 7th Northampton Company and former Brigade Secretary shares some ideas that could help Leaders to consider the relationship between the BB Company and the Church.

Challenge 5 – Engage with your church

With a view to strengthening the partnership between the BB Company and the church, make opportunities for the congregation to join in with BB activities, whilst also looking at how the Company can engage with Church events. Consider how you share what you are doing through the Church newsletter, website etc.

Write a sentence or a single word that you are prepared to share that describes the relationship between your Company and your Church.

For the BB to be successful in its mission, then evidently the relationship between Church and Company is critical. As an organisation we declare that we partner Churches to bring the Gospel to children and young people, but if this partnership is weak or strained then the Kingdom suffers. To ensure that there is a partnership, the church has clear responsibilities for its Company:

The Church appoints a Chaplain for the Company – This person, usually the minister, is a member of the Company staff and could be involved in staff meetings and supporting other leaders.

The programme of Christian education – Material is provided by and recommended by The Boys’ Brigade to help with the Spiritual development of children and young people, but ultimately the church determines the materials and methodology used.

That sounds fine in practice, but in reality unfortunately things go awry leading to some of the comments above. So what can we do to strengthen the partnership and whose responsibility is it?

The Minister and Captain have key roles to play and often the relationship between the two individuals sets the tone for the wider relationship. Like all human relationships, there are times when things can be difficult. Lack of communication and understanding on both sides may often be the cause of tension, but it is important to remember that the partnership is bigger than individuals and will continue beyond any temporary challenges.

In the ‘Faith in the Company’ booklet, there are 4 bullet points suggesting things to consider when seeking to develop a more fruitful relationship:

  • Could Church members lead devotions, share a skill, pray regularly for the Company?
  • How often is BB talked about and prayed for at the leadership level of Church life?
  • What avenues are open to communicate successes and concerns?
  • Could the Company contribute in worship, promote church activities, regularly pray for the shared mission?

Faith in the Company

Check out the Faith in the Company booklet which can be a great tool to help support the relationship between the Company and the Church.

Download at: leaders.boys-brigade.org.uk/faithinthecompany.pdf

For many of our young people, Church is an alien culture and there is no connection apart from BB. We have publicised ourselves as a bridge into the community, reaching out to children and young people who otherwise wouldn’t cross the threshold of the building. And that is a strength and provides great opportunities for the Church to access communities and share with families it otherwise wouldn’t touch.

The Company and the Church need to be conscious of this potential and support each other in mission. One way to consider this is to ask, do the BB members see themselves as part of the Church family or are they just BB members. How as BB leaders can you encourage this or is the perception that BB must come first? Does your Church have a Children’s and Youth work policy which is explicit about the role of the BB and how it contributes to the wider youth work of the Church, if there is any? This could be the starting point for a fresh dialogue with the church leadership – if there is a policy in place use this as a basis to reflect on the success of the Company and if there isn’t, why not get together to create one?

BB and church leadership teams need to be clear on what the BB is seeking to achieve and its role in the wider Church mission.

Some Churches seek to measure success with numbers attending worship. In such Churches, groups may be set up solely with the objective of getting more people on a Sunday. This philosophy can lead to negative comments about groups such as BB and leaders are criticised for not getting the young people to attend.

Other Churches may take a different approach and not restrict the concept of Church to a Sunday morning and consider all of its activities as Church for those who attend.

For those who come to BB that is their Church. Which scenario is your Church most like? Would it be useful to discuss this with the Church leadership team and see if there is value in adopting the one Church, many congregations scenario? For this to bear fruit and for a mid-week session to be Church, then it needs to contain the elements of what makes Church, such as prayer time, worship, bible study, fellowship etc. but these are things that are included in BB programmes as a matter of course.

There are lots of practical things that can be done to build the relationship:

  • Invite Church members to BB evenings. Invite the minister to events and not expect him/her to simply lead the devotions. The Minister could have a greater influence by playing table tennis and being seen as a real person.
  • What Church activities could the Company be involved in and support? Attend the regular coffee morning and set the objective of the young people learning Church members’ names and vice-versa.
  • Ask the Church to pray for the Company and its young people. Could you set up prayer partners with whom to share specific concerns?
  • Regularly communicate what the Company is doing? Get Church members to follow your Facebook page. Could you put a monthly update in the Church notices/newsletter? This is something that the Seniors could get involved in.
  • Don’t let finance dictate things. This can be a source of strain with some Companies being expected to pay to use the premises, some making a donation to cover the cost of utilities, whilst others receive financial support from the Church including payment of national capitation fees. Churches find themselves in different financial circumstances and you will be aware of your own situation. An honest discussion rather than moans and grumbles will allow for understanding and an agreed approach.

These are a few quick wins, but the importance of determining and understanding the role the BB in the Church’s youth ministry cannot be over-estimated. By working together with shared objectives then there is a greater chance that those who we are called to serve, may catch a glimpse of the kingdom.

Steve Dickinson
Chaplain, 7th Northampton & Former Brigade Secretary

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