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Perseverance and persistence, keeping the end goal in sight.

2 Timothy 2:3-6

3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.

6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Perseverance Defined

Webster’s Dictionary defines perseverance in the following words: “To persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter-influences, opposition, or discouragement.”

Persistence Defined

Webster’s Dictionary defines persistence in the following words: “To take a stand, stand firm, to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning.

Introduction

Our text calls us to persistence and to perseverance, but it adds a dimension that protects us from falling into the deep chasm of discouragement when our own best human efforts fall short. Paul writes to Timothy, “You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus . . .” (2 Timothy 2:1).

This is what makes all the difference. You and I are called to perseverance, but not that lonely perseverance of one trying to “keep on keeping on” when keeping on no longer makes any sense from a human perspective. This is a call to a life bathed in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which we are motivated by that which goes beyond ourselves to be all God would have us be as we persist, as we persevere as followers of Jesus, empowered by His Holy Spirit.

3 struggles of life

Here are 3 areas where perseverance and persistence in following Christ make our lives more joyful and less stressful.

  1. Human Nature
    When we admit the impossibility of changing ourselves with resolutions and self-improvement plans, He takes control and performs the continuing miracle of making us like Him.
  2. Human Adequacy
    We know we are insufficient for the demands of life, but we also know of His all-sufficient adequacy. I can’t imagine any problem He can’t help us solve, any person He can’t love through us, or any challenge He can’t give us strength to tackle. In spite of our inadequacy, he is more than sufficient.
  3. The Future
    We can relax. Whatever we face today will be an opportunity for new dimensions of His character to be formed in us. Romans 8-28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

A life lived without perseverance is a life that tries to exist by mobilizing what natural talents one happens to have, forgetting that some of the most gifted people in the world are failures because they give up when the going gets tough. In fact, some of them have so much talent, genius and education that they never find their focus.

What our text is saying is that you and I are privileged to take all the gifts of God’s grace, freely given to us, and, with faithfulness, persistence and perseverance, move forward, empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, to accomplish that which He dreams of accomplishing in us.

Any discourses on perseverance are pep talks geared to make you a successful person, to remind us that persistence pays off.  The reality is that the Christian church is always just one generation from extinction. You and I are called to be links in the chain that winds its way through human history from the first century until the return of Jesus Christ.

Someone told you about Jesus. That person was faithful. You are the beneficiary of their faithfulness. Now, in turn, you and I have the responsibility of sharing that Good News with someone else, who also will be faithful. We, in our faithfulness, are to entrust the Good News of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ to other people who will themselves be faithful in conveying that to others.

Paul illustrates the nature of Christian perseverance during difficult times with three practical images.

  1. A Solider
  2. An Athlete
  3. A Farmer

We are going to dig deeper into each one of these examples and try to understand what Paul was telling Timothy.  Tonight we will begin with a solider.

A Soldier

You know what it means to be a soldier. A soldier is called to focused service. Your life is lived set apart from normal civilian pursuits. You wear a uniform, you live in a barracks, and you are deployed to whatever part of the world your nation chooses to send you. And it is a life that requires obedience. You cannot have twenty soldiers heading out in twenty different directions, each declaring their own strategy in battle. They must take orders, whether those orders prove to be wise or unwise on the part of the person in charge, the commander who has the larger view of what is going on.

We only have to observe what happened in Iraq to see the evidence of both focused service and willingness to obey commands. Whether it was securing Baghdad or rooting out the insurgents in Fallujah, our military men and women were called to persevere under the most difficult of circumstances. It is not only the full-time enlisted persons who must function this way, but also those who, much to their surprise, have been called up from the reserves to serve their nation.

Mark Luttrell

Let’s talk about a retired US Navy Seal named Mark Luttrell.  He received the Navy Cross in Operation Red Wing for his actions in combat.
On June 28, 2005, Luttrell and SEAL Team 10 were assigned to a mission to kill or capture Ahmad Shah (nom de guerre Mohammad Ismail), a high-ranking Taliban leader responsible for killings in eastern Afghanistan and the Hindu-Kush mountains.

The SEAL team was made up of Luttrell, Michael P. Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson. Luttrell and Axelson were the team’s snipers; Dietz was in charge of communications and Murphy the team leader. A group of goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs, the four SEALs immediately took control of the situation and discussed what to do with the herders. After taking a vote and basing their decision on ROE, Michael Murphy made the final decision to let them go. The herders were subsequently released and disappeared over the mountain ridge. Luttrell believed they immediately betrayed the team’s location to local Taliban forces and within an hour, the SEALs were engaged in an intense gun battle. In the ensuing battle, the rest of the SEAL team members were killed. Team leader Michael P. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the battle. Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson, and Marcus were awarded the Navy Cross. An MH-47 Chinook helicopter was dispatched with a force consisting of SEALs and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment “Nightstalkers” to rescue the team, but the helicopter was shot down by an RPG. All 16 men on the Chinook were killed.

Luttrell was the only survivor. He was “Shot, Eleven through-and-through [wounds]. Broken pelvis. Broken back. Shoulder was torn out. My knees were destroyed. Pretty severe facial damage. He bit his tongue in half. His right hand was destroyed from his thumb over to his index finger.”

Badly wounded, he managed to walk and crawl to evade capture.  When he couldn’t walk he had to find motivation to keep moving forward.  Most normal people would have given up and died.  Something deep within Luttrell kept him moving forward.  One of the things that he did was use a stone to draw a line in the sand/dirt as far forward as he could reach.  He would then drag himself until his toes had crossed over the line.  He repeated this until he had managed to drag himself over 7 miles to an Afghan tribe, who alerted the Americans of his presence, and American forces finally rescued him six days after the gun battle.

Following his physical recovery from Operation Redwing, Marcus went back and completed one more tour before being medically retired. He then wrote the book, Lone Survivor, to share the amazing story of his brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Conclusion

The Christian is called to focused service and obedience to Jesus Christ. All of this involves the potential of sacrifice. All of this involves loyalty.

The soldier keeps in mind the thought of final victory.  We may lose many battles in our life, but as long as we are persistent in following Christ, we will win the War.

Let me ask you bluntly, is your life as a follower of Jesus one of focused service, obedience, willingness to sacrifice and loyalty to your Savior?  When you are beat up, kicked in the gut, and slammed by the enemy, are you going to be able to drag yourself to the finish line?

An Athlete

Why would Paul choose an Athlete to encourage timothy to persevere in his faith?

What are some things that make and Athlete successful?

  • Preparation … Training and hard work
  • Knowledge … of their sport
  • Practice … practice makes perfect
  • Diet … what sustains you is important

Name some athletes that have persevered through difficult times to finally achieve their goal.

Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph was the twentieth of 22 children. Born prematurely, doctors did not expect Wilma to survive. She did. But, at the age of four, she contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever, leaving her left leg paralyzed. She learned to walk with the aid of a metal brace.

When Wilma was nine years old, she removed the leg brace and began walking without it. By age thirteen, she developed a rhythmic walk. That same year, she decided to begin running. She entered her first race and came in last. For the next three years, Wilma Rudolph came in dead last in every race she entered. But she kept on running, and one day she won. Eventually, the little girl who was not supposed to live, and then who was not supposed to be able to walk, would win three gold medals in Rome’s 1960 Olympic Games. That’s what I call perseverance.

How does this apply to your life?

  • Your words
  • Your environment
  • Your friends
  • The desires of your heart

What does this look like in your daily walk?

  • How are you getting prepared? Prayer and Fasting
  • How are you receiving knowledge? Discipleship
  • How are you practicing? Evangelism
  • How are you being fed? Prayer and Fasting

Conclusion

There is an athletic nature to the Christian life. This involves discipline.  This involves self-denial. You and I are called to stay in spiritual shape, shedding attitudes and actions that would get in the way of successfully completing life’s difficult race.

How are you doing? Are you living with such discipline? Is there in your life that dimension of self-denial that marks the life of the athlete?

A Farmer

Paul says the Christian needs the diligence of a farmer: “It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.”

The emphasis there is upon the word, hard-working. Being a Christian is not just floating through life with God working for you. Rather, it is you working for God, enjoying the privilege of being his faithful servant through whom he does his work today. There is no greater calling than that. Yet, the attitude of many Christians today is, “I’ve become a Christian in order to get God to bless me, and work for me. If he doesn’t do it the way I want, I’m ready to quit. I don’t want anything to do with Christianity when it gets difficult.” That’s the very thing the apostle is warning against in this passage.

Most of us here in the Houston area are at least a generation or two removed from the farm. But imagine with me all of the responsibilities of owning a farm. Someone has to milk the cows. Someone has to plow the fields. Someone has to do the planting, cultivating, weeding and spraying of insecticides and application of fertilizer. Then there is the harvesting. Farmers are tied to the difficult duties of being farmers when it is profitable and also when they farm at a financial loss.

Being a Christian takes long hours of labor. A Christian is called upon to reprogram the computer of his mind to think differently than other people think. That is not accomplished easily. It takes hours of reading the Bible and reading books about the Bible, until you see life the way the Bible sees it. It takes, perhaps, hours of listening to tapes, attending services, sharing and relating with other Christians how they are struggling and letting them see how you are. It takes diligent labor. It is not something that comes automatically because you happen to be a Christian.

Like a farmer, we might have to rise up early and work hard; we do so in expectation of a harvest. Paul always sets before us that life is not the end of the story, that what we may have to give up here is made up for abundantly when we step out of time into eternity. That is the day for which we labor.

Farmers cannot neglect their chores. They are at the mercy of the elements. They can’t just say, “I don’t feel like harvesting today.” They have to focus all their attention on doing those difficult jobs regardless of weather, even late into the evening hours.  Look at a farm where the farmers are delinquent and you see an overgrown mess, which quickly leads to agricultural and financial bankruptcy. The same thing is true in the Christian life.

How about you? Do you have the diligence of the farmer in your Christian life? “But God’s schedule is not always my schedule.”

Thinking Points

The soldier keeps in mind the thought of final victory.  We may lose many battles in our life, but as long as we are persistent in following Christ, we will win the War.

The athlete is upheld by the vision of the winner’s trophy. Though our bodies and minds may ache, we know that by persevering through the pains of this world, one day we will have new bodies, free of pain and suffering.

And the farmer looks forward to the hope for harvest. Day in and day we must be persistent in studying, praying, and witnessing to those around us, because one day the harvest will come and we want to influence as many people as possible for the Lord Jesus Christ.

For the Christian, there is the crown. We look forward to the joy that comes from faithfulness and the anticipation of meeting our Savior in heaven. We must persevere in the face of adversity , and persist in our daily efforts to be more like Him, so that one day we hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your eternal rest.”

Effective Photography for Royal Rangers Leaders

Supercharge your marketing and communications through photography and media by empowering leaders at your next Royal Rangers event using these simple to follow steps and practical advice from an event tested veteran. With the rise of smartphones and wireless networks, our parents and ministry supporters can be closer than ever to the action of our events from the palm of their hands. In fact, it is very likely that most of the leaders at your next event have a smartphone capable of taking professional level photographs and video. Starting with the iPhone 4S, Apple has equipped all of their phones with a camera capable of producing high quality 8 megapixel images or a 1920×1080 pixel image. Samsung has an even better camera in their older phones, boasting a 13 megapixel camera in their Galaxy 4S model. iPhone 6 and newer are capable of 4K images and video! Samsung and others have followed suit and today the most powerful cameras in our homes are typically found on our phones. It is the strong opinion of this author that we must utilize these capabilities to their fullest by helping leaders understand the capabilities that they carry around with them and what to look for to capture top quality photos and video that can be used in social media and printed materials to publicize the events that we are hosting.

File Sharing/Photo Collection
Before you set your leaders lose with their cameras you need to establish an easy way to share all the media that is going to be captured at the event. There is no shortage of cloud based solutions if your leaders have data plans and access to reliable Internet. In the event that Internet access is limited it is always good to have a hard wired solution in place. Below are some easy to setup options that you can use to collect all the media that is produced.

  • USB Cables
    Most phones have a special shared folder that contains the media captured by the phone. In order to successfully copy files from the phone you may have to install special software. It is best to setup a laptop in advance of your event and load it with iTunes and Samsung Kies just to be safe as this should cover the 2 most common types of devices that you will encounter. You will also need to provide a Lighting and a Micro USB cable.
  • DropBox A Dropbox Basic account is free and includes 2 GB of space. You can download free apps to access Dropbox from your computer, phone, or tablet.
  • OneDrive A OneDrive basic account comes with 5GB of free storage and offers a variety of free apps that can be used to access your OneDrive from mobile devices.
  • Text Message As long as you and your leaders have the ability to send and receive multimedia text messages this is a good option. The trick to making this work is to send the photos in high enough quality that they can be repurposed after the event, and ensure that your cell phone plan allows you to do this without incurring cost. Most plans offer some level of all-inclusive texting; however, that could be different for your plan.
  • Bluetooth Transfer This requires some technical knowledge as Bluetooth connectivity can be finicky; however, if you have it and can set it up you can easily pair with phones and transfer photos and videos.
  • AirDrop (iPhone Only)
    This is restricted to iPhones, but makes the process of sending files to another iPhone user seamless.

As you collect the media from your event, make sure to have a common naming and filing scheme in place. I recommend storing photos by day at the very least. If you are running multiple camps simultaneously, it may be a good idea to also store the photos by camp for clarity when you get ready to publish them. Another thing to think about is providing credit to the photographer. To do this you may want to consider also storing by photographer. The bottom line here is to think through how you want to use the media and then build a filing scheme that will suit it.

Photo Modes
The easiest of the two functions is still photography, but as easy as it is to point and shoot, it is perhaps even more important to understand what to look for and how to frame it. There are some universal dos and don’ts that need to be understood to get the best quality shots for reuse. Before we dig too far into that let’s look at photo modes. Each phone vendor will undoubtedly have their own version of these, but for simplicity sake we’re going to look at the newer iPhone models (8+).

The iPhone 8 comes loaded with 4 photo modes that each have a specific purpose.

  • Photo Mode
    This is the best general purpose option as it can be used to capture groups, distant activities, and live action events. This mode has a zoom feature that allows the photographer to zoom in on the action; however, this feature should be used sparingly as the quality of the photo degrades the more zoomed in the camera is.
  • Portrait Mode
    This mode is best for up close photos in which you want to bring out a specific individual or item as the camera changes the field view and generate high quality photos using an array of lighting options. For most shots we want to stick with Natural Light. Portrait Mode applies an arty depth effect to your photos, putting the subject in focus and blurring the background: a sought-after effect known in photographic circles as bokeh.
  • Square Mode
    I don’t use this mode often at all. It functions much like Photo mode, but produces a square photo.
  • Pano Mode
    Great for large group and landscape photos, but requires a steady hand. The panorama mode itself offers some advice on how to take a good shot: you need to move the device continuously (don’t pause or stutter in your movement) and slowly.

If your phone supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos, make sure that it is enabled and lean toward using that when possible. The iPhone presents a message across the camera when HDR is active. HDR melds several exposures to create a single picture with an impressive amount of detail and a broad range of tones and colors. Try using it instead of the flash when you’re faced with tricky lighting conditions.

Photography Basics
Camera phones are amazingly convenient and we tend to carry them everywhere we go; however, there are still some basic photography challenges to content with.

  • Camera Shake
    For example, one reason you may tend to get blurry photos with your iPhone is that it’s light and thin, and hence rather awkward to hold compared to a full-size camera. You can reduce camera shake with some old-fashioned techniques that literally stop your hands from moving as much: pushing the side of your body against a vertical surface to steady it, resting your elbows on a low wall, or even simply bracing your iPhone by holding it in both hands and tucking your elbows into your body.
  • Lock Focus and Exposure If you are wanting to capture crisp photos of a face or specific object, tap on your phone display to lock the focus and exposure. This help the camera focus in on your subject, especially if there are objects in front of the field of vision between you and the target.
  • Rules of Thirds Grid
    Although shots can look great with their subject dead center, you can usually make your shots look better, more dynamic and flat-out more professional if instead you embrace the “Rule of Thirds” – and you can easily do this if you switch on the grid in Settings > Photos & Camera.
  • Background Check!
    Check your background If possible avoid unsightly backdrops such as portable bathroom units, electrical lines, and vehicles. This may require that you shoot from a specific angle to avoid these items, but the end result will be worth it. This is specifically important if you are having any type of ceremony in which you would like to capture special moments. When staging the ceremony location keep photography needs in mind, including backdrop, lighting, and space.
  • Brand Visibility
    Is the brand visible? Be on the lookout for boys and leaders with Royal Rangers uniforms or shirts participating in your event. Anytime you are able to capture the Royal Rangers emblem during an activity, you can utilize that to increase the appeal of the brand.
  • Capture the action.
    Royal Rangers is a high energy, highly relational program, and your photographs should be proof of that in action.
  • Be mindful of the moment
    Photography is great, and marketing is necessary; however, DO NOT let the desire to photograph the moment ruin an altar service or mentoring opportunity. A boys spiritual well being is more important than any photo we will capture from the event, and we need to ensure that all of our leaders are aware. Photos during service time are acceptable as long as they are not distracting from the service.

Photography is such a universal tool for sharing your vision that we should be using it to the fullest extent possible.  In order for us to do this, we need to empower our leaders and equip them to be successful in capturing moments that will resonate with our intended audiences.  Use photography to your advantage, and let the world know about the great works that you and your team are doing.

Preparing Your Outpost for Generation Next

One of the greatest challenges facing our churches today is finding and equipping leaders to accept the challenge of mentoring our boys and young men. This lack of leadership and mentoring for our younger generation is increasingly placing established Royal Rangers Outposts at risk as older leaders retire and move out of day-to-day ministry creating a void in the rank and file. The good news is, there are specific, actionable items that your Outpost can undertake today that will not only help to preserve a healthy, well equipped team of leaders, but also raise up new leaders from the young men that are being mentored.

Leader Training
It has often been said that a trained leader is a committed leader. It is noticeable in Royal Rangers that leaders who receive training are more likely to feel equipped to lead their boys in weekly outpost meetings. Experiencing successful outpost meetings brings with it longevity as opposed to leaders who are left to “figure it out” on their own. Training is a critical component in the leadership development process because it enforces successful mentoring methods, such as “hear, see, do, teach”. The National Royal Rangers Ministry is an adult facilitated, boy-led ministry that is most effective when leaders are not heavily involved in directing all the boys on every aspect of the outpost meeting. It is very easy for an adult leader to take a an assertive role in managing an outpost; however, the best results are found in fostering the adult-facilitated, boy-led environment.

A Royal Rangers Leader’s training does not end with the basic courses offered through the local district. While challenging, it is important that leaders continue to grow once they’ve completed the Organizational Leaders Advancement Levels, and the National Office offers multiple options for continuous learning including learning electives such as Discipleship, Mentoring Special Needs Boys, and others.

Outpost Pride
Outpost pride is not the type of pride that is held in vein; rather, it is a sense of wanting to belong and participate with the Outpost inside and outside of the church. Leaders carry a good deal of responsibility for helping to establish outpost pride, and that is fostered through regular Royal Rangers training for both adults and boys. Pride can also be extended beyond your outpost meetings and into other church ministries such as Men’s Ministries, Mpact Girls, and others. Royal Rangers should support other ministries and be viewed as a resource. Rather than feeling like a ministry that is taken advantage of, leaders would be well served feeling pride in the fact that they are regularly called upon to serve other ministries, after all, we are all on the same team, and the victories of the one benefit the greater good.

Some practical first steps to establishing outpost pride are publicly recognizing the accomplishments of your leaders by posting their certificates in a public area that the entire congregation can see. Maintain a regular method of communicating with your pastor the events and accomplishments of the boys and leaders in your outpost. By sharing the good news happening in your ministry with the leadership in your church, you not only have an opportunity to share your accomplishments, but also the plans you have to further the mission of the church.

Junior Training
Royal Rangers is built to be an adult-facilitated, boy-led ministry. In order to accomplish the boy-led portion of the ministry, we have to train up our boys. This cannot be accomplished by using Bible Merits alone. The most effective way to task new junior leaders is by utilizing the complete array of material available to Royal Ranger Leaders. These include skill merits, leadership merits, and district facilitated training events.

Skill merits and leadership merits are available as part of a TracKClub subscription. The biggest challenge in conducting a skill or leadership merit is planning and preparation. Leaders must plan to have the proper supplies in place to conduct the merit, and involve other men or women from within the church to help facilitate them. If there are people within the church with special skills, who are passionate about what they do, it would be good to try to involve them in the training of the boys. This serves as a double opportunity to attract new leaders, either full-time or part-time.

District facilitated training is a great opportunity to introduce your boys to the framework of the Royal Rangers mentoring ministry, and have them bring that leadership back into the outpost. The biggest challenge to district facilitated training is often times related to the cost of the event. This requires some creative work by the leaders to offset the costs incurred by parents. This can be done through fundraising, scholarships, or advanced planning. For example, collecting regular outpost dues allows outposts to offset event costs by drawing down from the dues that are collected. Engaging other ministries for scholarships allows families to have some “skin” in the game, while still providing a discount. District facilitated training is highly recommended because boys are able to get outside of their comfort zone and learn from other trained and tested leaders.

Whichever method(s) you choose to employ, it is important to identify, activate, and resource young leaders to ensure that a continual source of leadership is readily available within the outpost. Outposts will wither away if leadership remains stagnant. Like a body of non-moving water, life ceases to grow without the proper elements. In the case of a Royal Rangers Outpost, it is leadership, but young and old, new and seasoned.

Is Royal Rangers Still Relevant?

The other day I was having a conversation with some friends and fellow Royal Ranger leaders. In the conversation, we were discussing Royal Rangers and perceptions people have of it. Some of the things that have been said are that: Royal Rangers is an ineffective and antiquated ministry, not relevant, costs too much money, requires too much manpower, and is too expensive. I have been pondering: how do we make it more effective and active in more of our churches?

These are the same discussions/objections that I’ve heard for 15+ years. These are the reasons given by churches that don’t have Royal Rangers. The leaders in Rangers that I know are positive that it is relevant. We know that we have helped boys, we know that there’s great spiritual fruit, because we see it all the time. We also know that fatherlessness is one of the biggest problems in our country, in the world probably. We know that there’s a lack of men active in many churches. We know that the Biblical example for mentoring is done in small groups, or one on one. Royal Rangers addresses and provides a male role model and mentoring starting with boys in kindergarten going all the way through high school. Manhood, Christian manhood is relevant! I don’t know how we could make Royal Rangers less expensive than it already is. If you still think it’s expensive, please inquire with your Sectional or District Royal Ranger leadership about how to do Royal Rangers and not spend a lot. You can also send me a message and I will help. Antiquated, I’m not sure what they mean when they say antiquated, that it is not relevant to boys “in this day and age”. A Royal Rangers outpost can center its activities on anything music, drama, camping, hiking, missions, trades, outreach…. anything. It’s not just an outdoor program. Manpower is a long-term problem, if you start mentoring boys (Royal Rangers), it will help you build (or build more) Godly men. If you start mentoring boys to be Godly men in your church, you will have Royal Ranger leaders, and more men active in the church. If we want to change the world and affect churches, then more men is a very good way to do it. Royal Rangers is a set of tools, that you can choose from to help you mentor boys. You pick the tools you want to use in your church. You don’t have to do everything the platform offers. Every Royal Ranger group is not the same… not even close.

Knowing all of this, maybe the problem is not what they say it is or was, the problem may be communications. We, as Royal Ranger leaders are not communicating well. Just maybe they’re saying those things because some of them used to be true, but no longer are. We need to own this communication problem or opportunity. We’re not communicating the wins, victories and all the positive things that we see in and because of Royal Rangers. I think, that maybe we need to do a better job of sharing what has happened not just at the events like camps and retreats and not just with other Ranger leaders. We need to share the mentoring things, we need the share relationship things, we need to communicate with the other ministries, we need to be involved with and helping with our Pastor’s vision for the church he is leading. Sharing with him what is going on with individual boys, and how they are growing. I think that that will help us. Communication is one of the keys.

The Importance of Investing in People and Practical Steps in the Process

The Importance of Investing in People and Practical Steps in the Process

Where does one start on this subject? Great question! This has been a life-long pursuit for the Ole Sarge.

I tell people all the time, “It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, at the end of the day, we’re all in the people business.” – Sarge Summers

Think about that quote for just a moment. Truth or fiction? It depends a lot on one’s attitude doesn’t it? You see, your perception of me is in fact, my reality! If you perceive someone to be a good person, then in your mind it is so…

Let’s explore how one invests in the life of another…

Step 1: Pray about it!
Sounds simple enough, right? The Bible instructs us to pray for one another and so we do. I believe, God wants us to pray in “specific” terms. In order to do this we have to do some research about the other person. Get to know them and show genuine concern for them and their respective needs.

Step 2: Know your own limitations.
Do not exceed these limitations. In other words, if you’re not a certified counselor, don’t try to give the impression that you are. You’ll find that most folks, just want someone to listen to them. Be willing to do this, but never assume that because someone says, “I’d like your advice,” that they really mean it. Be careful because many have fallen into this trap.

Step 3: Try your best to have and display the “Mind of Christ.”
The question, What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? Well, what would He do? If we keep this thought/question at the fore-front of our thinking, it will save us a lot of heartache and grief.

Step 4: Respect the other person’s opinions.
You don’t have to necessarily agree with them, but understand that their opinions are important to them and have been formed over time and that we are in fact, “a product of our own environment.” Give them space…

Step 5: Be the “genuine” article.
In other words, don’t try to be something that you’re not. People are drawn to you for who you truly are and they don’t want to find out later that you are not who you portrayed yourself to be. Be yourself and align yourself with the Word of God. Too spiritual? I hope not…

Step 6: Be cautious!
We can’t be all things to all people. Many have tried and many have failed in this role. Again, know your limitations and never over-sell. Don’t over promise and under deliver!

Step 7: Take inventory.
This is a necessity! Where are you in the process of investing in people and what do you have in the way of resources.

This is a short article and not an exhaustive study on the subject. The intent is to stimulate some thought and ideas on the topic.

My encouragement to each of you is to enjoy the process (journey) and be a “Difference Maker” in this world.

One more thought… You will need to allow yourself to be vulnerable. That’s a bonus statement! Jeremiah 29:11

Respectfully,

Sarge Summers
God’s Faithful Servant-Leader
Director of Development, Royal Rangers International (RRI)
Joshua 1:9

Answering the Call

In 1962, God called upon a man from North Texas to establish a ministry that over time would minister to untold numbers of boys and men.  At the time, single parent households were on the rise, and it seems as though God had placed this prophetic message within the hearts of Johnny Barnes and the Assemblies of God that a forthcoming explosion of single parent households would soon grip the country and add a strain on the youth of the United States.  Between 1960 and 1975 the number of single parent households more than doubled with 4.9 million single parent homes recorded.  Fast-forward 40+ years to 2016 and the problem has grown significantly.  During the last census over 17 million children under the age of 18 (or roughly 1 in 4) in nearly 12,000,000 families were reported as being raised in a single parent home, of which over 80% were headed by single women.

There are many reasons why we see over 80% of these homes led by women, but above and beyond any specific reason we clearly see a significant gap in male leadership within these homes.  This has led to significant and serious issues within our society, and while the statistics paint a fairly clear picture of the problem it should be stated that these single mothers are not the reason that we see the statistics that we do.  While the number of single parent homes has risen dramatically since the 1960’s, another troubling statistic has paralleled that increase, as over the past 30 years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in families abandoned by fathers.

The evidence of the professional literature is overwhelming: teenage criminal behavior has its roots in habitual deprivation of parental love and affection going back to early infancy. Future delinquents invariably have a chaotic, disintegrating family life, which frequently leads to aggression and hostility toward others outside the family.  Many Royal Ranger leaders may have experience dealing with these types of situations and can attest to the amount of pain and heartbreak that ensues as these actions play out.  In my personal experience some of these situations have thus far had a relatively positive outcome, with only a small few resulting in negative ones (prison time, abandonment of family, etc.…).

So why all of this information?  It can be said that at no time in history has a ministry like Royal Rangers been more important to the Church or society at large as it is now.  However, “Houston, we have a problem”…  In 1962 great leaders established a proven formula for reaching, teaching, and keeping our youth from the criminal statistics and broken families that we so often hear about today, but that ministry is largely ineffective without men to lead it.  In churches all across our great country, thousands of boys attend at church where the men in that church interact with or involve them very little, removing precious opportunities to learn and know what it feels like to be loved and appreciated by a Godly man.  Many of these same boys go home each evening to a home with no father, no godly manhood from which to learn, and yet are expected to live up a pre conceived notion of what a Christian man looks like.  It should be noted that these “churches” of which I speak are not specifically outside of the Assemblies of God, which highlights another problem, and that is the lack of participation we see within our own affiliated organizations.

The truth is, without intervention and the intentional efforts of Godly men, these statistics will likely not improve, but degrade over time.  So what do we do about it?  Similar to what it says in Mark 16, we must as Royal Rangers leaders go into the all of the world and let our communities and friends know about what we do and how they can help.  This includes our own churches…  We need more men than ever to be trained and join the ranks of Royal Rangers leaders all across the world so that we can reach more boys and men than ever, more effectively than ever.  We cannot afford to be a men’s club that keep our meetings in secret or a Wednesday night classroom confined to reading and writing.  We must be the ministry that the leaders before us established to reach, teach, and keep boys for Christ.

Our mission is to evangelize, equip, and empower the next generation of Christlike men and lifelong servant leaders.  We cannot do this in a vacuum, and we cannot expect the older men in our church to take responsibility for this alone.  This is a task that will require men of all ages, all backgrounds, and all talents working together the way that God intended to mentor boys and young men, providing them a glimpse of what it looks like to not only talk about living a life of following Christ, but through seeing our actions which will speak louder than our words.

Never underestimate the influence that a Godly man can have on a boy’s life.  As a boy who grew up in a single parent home, I can attest to the power of Godly manhood in the lives of our young men.  Most of the men in my life that have had the greatest impact on me have been men that I met in Royal Rangers, and I hear this from other men all the time.  If we have that kind of impact on one another, imagine how much more of an impact we can have on the boys and young men in our communities.

Fireside Discussion

What does FCF mean to you?

Ad dare servire. If you are a member of Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship, you should know what that means. And I’m not just talking about what the translation is from the Latin.  “To give and to serve.” To give of your time and your resources. To serve as the backbone of the Royal Rangers ministry. I remember the first few work days that we had at our Royal Rangers campground at Lakeview Camp. Almost every man and young man working those events, was a member of FCF.

So what does being a member of Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship mean to me? I’ll start with a story from 10 years ago. At that time, my son was a member of a Royal Rangers outpost, but I was too busy with work and everything else to be a part of that. So one day, he comes to me and says, “Dad we should go to this black powder safety class that they are doing this weekend.” Well I figured if firearms are involved it has to be a good idea! Little did I know, but that one class would change me forever. I spent time with my son, and we talked about Royal Rangers. I spent time talking to the instructor (Art Sullivan) and other members of FCF that were there teaching and taking the class. But most importantly I found that my son and I were really drifting further and further apart, and that this would be a great way for us to become close again. So I became a Royal Rangers Commander. Christopher and I went to FCF Adventure together. We went to campouts together. We went through our Buckskin testing together. He earned his Saber and his Gold Medal of Achievement, and I was there the whole way. Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship saved our relationship.

I say all of that to say this. Commanders, if you are in FCF, and your boys are not in FCF, BOTH of you are missing out on a blessing. If you are losing your older boys to the fumes, exhaust fumes and perfumes, FCF is a way to challenge them and keep them interested in Royal Rangers. Challenge the boys to advance in FCF. There is nothing better than seeing a group of young men in a Buckskin ceremony or even better a Wilderness ceremony after their vigil. But once you get the boys into FCF, bring them to camps! More than likely, if you don’t go, they won’t or can’t go. And again, you both are missing out on a blessing.

About seven years ago, my son graduated high school and pretty much finished his Royal Ranger career, and then eventually joined the Army. So I decided that I would get out of Royal Rangers and leave FCF behind me. And I did. For about 6 months. Then the Lord reminded me that he had called me to be in Royal Rangers and, more specifically, Frontiersman Camping Fellowship. And I came right back. This is MY ministry. This is what I do. This is what makes me happy. This is how I spend my spare time. This is how I spend the majority of my vacation days every year.

It is about a brotherhood. I know in our Chapter, we very seldom shake hands with another FCF member. We hug. Yep, we are huggers. I met the guy I call my best friend at my FCF Adventure!  So yeah, it’s a brotherhood. When you go to a Pow Wow or other camp with all of your boys, you spend so much time making sure they are safe, and they eat, and they are where they are supposed to be at the time they are supposed be and they maybe have taken a shower and possibly brushed their teeth and are sleeping in the right tent and are actually in the tent and not running around someone else’s camp and on and on and on, that you don’t get a chance to sit around the fire and put your feet up and talk about your life and your God with other commander and you come back more tired than when you left. I have found FCF camps to be very relaxing, once you spend all day putting up your shelter and your awning and your bed and your tables and chairs and candle lanterns and cooking area and …well you get it. I’ve spent more time with my brothers talking about things at FCF camps than anywhere else. That alone is worth the price of admission!

Oh! One more thing. We shoot muzzle-loaders! Yep, black powder rifles baby! NOTHING beats the smell of the sulfur smoke in the morning! Enough said!

If you want more information about FCF, look me up on our District website, ntxrr.org. Or ask any one of your local Chapter officers or members. Royal Rangers needs more Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship members. Besides, if you get a boy hooked on black powder rifles, primitive knives and leather working, bead necklaces, canvas tents and wood furniture, he won’t have time or money to chase after anything else!

Watch Yer Topknot,

David “Spotted Bull” Shook

Shawnee Trail Chapter

Vice President

Effective Outpost Communication

In marketing, there is a strategy named “The Rule of 7”.  Behind this strategy is the notion that consumers need to hear or see something seven times before they remember it.  In reality, there is no science to the number of 7, rather the strategy simply implies that the marketer must constantly keep their message in front of the consumer in order to get through when the consumer is positioned to receive the message.

Before we lay out possible ways of applying these principles within an outpost, let’s first take a glance at some different types of barriers that exist which obfuscate or dilute our message.

Barriers to Effective Communication

Noise
The biggest issue that we must overcome within church circles is noise.  From Sunday morning bulletins to announcements, to newsletters and all things in between, most of our parents are inundated with the latest and greatest from every ministry that their family is involved in.  Additionally, church time is an excellent opportunity for people to fellowship and catch up with one another, so the pieces of paper that we are handing out do not always get the amount of attention that we’d like.  Likewise, passing conversations can easily be forgotten because chances are several other conversations will occur between the time we’ve said our piece and that person gets to their car.  Noise in the context that we’re using it does not entail anything bad, it simply is a challenge that we must contend with.

Need
Parents may not always understand the need or urgency of our message.  For example, they may not realize that the weekend activity that you are organizing is a leadership merit meant to challenge their son and help him on his way to meeting annual goals.  This can be especially challenging when attempting to get boys signed up for a camp, and rest assured this issue is not specific to Royal Rangers.  Youth and children’s ministries are constantly battling against the same issues that we do with regard to communicating with parents.

Cost
In our constantly changing economy, family finances are constantly in flux.  If you are trying to raise money, schedule an event, or take a boy on a trip there is typically a cost involved.  Not all parents will be able to shoulder the financial burden that so many of our ministries place on them.  Believe it or not, your message may not be receiving traction due to the time of the month it is based on the parent’s pay check cycle.  Having your message come out at the wrong time could mean that it is ignored.

Trust
Another issue that we face in communicating with our Outpost is trust.  Do your parents know who you are?  Do they know what the Royal Rangers mission is, and do they believe that you are working toward that mission with their son?  It is very important for us as leaders to constantly reinforce the mission of Royal Rangers to avoid trust issues.  Looking at it objectively, many parents only see Royal Rangers before and after service.  For many outposts this time is spent as recreation or forming and can appear on the surface to be unorganized chaos.  Any Royal Rangers Leader knows that a lot of what makes our ministry special does not occur before or at the of our outpost meeting, but during the time that we spend mentoring our boys in bible study, developing a skill merit, or experiencing an adventure outside of church.

Applying the Rule of Seven

First and foremost, we can never rely on one type of communication.  People recognize and perceive things very differently from another, so we should attempt to share our message with them multiple times using four different methods of communication.  We must also be cognoscente that timing can impact the effectiveness of our message, so anything that is important for us to share should be coordinated well in advance of any due date.

The following list provides some ideas for different types of communication methods that can be used along with how that method is effective.

Printed Letter
This is a very common communication method, and is typically something that we should try to do multiple times.  The printed letter is effective because it can be referenced multiple times.  The challenge with this method is ensuring that it gets to the proper audience.  Trusting that a boy delivered the letter to the intended recipient is not a certainty, so unless we are able to specifically hand this to the proper person we cannot know that the message was received.

Email
Many parents rely on email for work related matters and have become accustomed to checking them and reading them daily.  If you are able to harvest the email addresses for your parents and target email to them then you have a good chance that many of them will see your message.  Again, email is something that can be flagged or kept for an indefinite amount of time which increases the chances that it will be viewed.  There are barriers to this method, which include lack of email capabilities for your audience and junk filters which hide your message.  If you are going to employ email as a method you should ensure that parents know where the email is being sent from so that they can add it their safe list, or at the very least be looking for it in their junk list.

Social Media
Social media is all the hype these days with the rise in popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  These communication methods are effective because statistics indicate that many people utilize social media multiples times per day.  Facebook alone serves over 1 billion users daily.  Communicating your message over social media not only has the potential to reach your intended audience, but in the process you may also be able to communicate the activities that you are doing with new families.  When using social media it is important that we understand the role of each of the major social media sites.  For communicating ministry events the most applicable site is Facebook.  Twitter is more single thought based and not really intended to communicate a large amount of information.  It seems that anymore Twitter has been relegated to social awareness and trending news and events.  LinkedIn is purely a professional networking site and should for the most part be avoided when communicating outpost activities.  Social media is another method that if used, should be employed numerous times leading up to the activity.

Bulletin
Many churches have abandoned the traditional bulletin to save on costs and reduce administrative overhead.  If this is an option for you, having a regular spot on the bulleting can be an effective way to share what you’re doing.  Challenges include making sure that the content is updated regularly and not static, and that the deadlines for submitting are understood and adhered to so that messages are timely.

Text Message
SMS texting is yet another option that can be used to communicate with your outpost.  These messages are delivered directly to the parent’s mobile device and there is a very good chance that they will receive it.  Challenges include collecting applicable mobile numbers and ensuring that parents agree to receiving text messages from you.  We must be mindful that some mobile users still pay for SMS messages per message.  When using this method messages should be concise and sent sparingly.

Service Announcement
If your church allows your message to be shared in a pre-service video or by someone who recites upcoming news and events, this is a great way to get a message out to your church.  Challenges with this include knowing that your intended recipients are seeing or hearing the message, and unless you are delivering the message, ensuring that it is accurately conveyed to the audience.

Verbal
Last but not least is the age old method of verbally sharing your message.  This is likely the most effective way to convey your message and requires that you know who your audience is personally.  Drop off and pick up times are excellent opportunities to share a message verbally, and by studying body language we can get a good feel for whether or not our message was heard and understood.  The downside to this method is that it can easily be forgotten and there is not anything tangible to reference back to.

Regardless of the method or methods employed, all of the aforementioned methods can be an effective part of your communication strategy when applied at the right time with the right amount of information.  Additionally, with all of these methods, there is an opportunity after our activity has concluded to communicate the results of the event.  This type of follow up helps to effectively break down trust issues and earn buy-in from parents who want to know that you are ministering to their son.

The Seven Experiences

Royal Rangers uses seven experiences to guide boys on their journey to godly manhood. You can easily customize any of these experiences to reflect your church’s vision, preferences and practices.

  1. CONNECT WITH A COMMUNITY OF GODLY MEN
    Boys and men build relationships side by side as they do activities together. Regular, consistent interaction between boys and men is key.
  2. DO FUN ACTIVITIES TOGETHER
    Boys want to participate in a variety of activities, and the Royal Rangers ministry features a vast collection of resources to support their interests. Leaders are encouraged to plan a wide range of activities to appeal to a broad spectrum of boys.
  3. GROW IN CHRISTLIKE MANHOOD
    The Royal Rangers advancement system is an outcome-based discipleship journey. Boys and young men are encouraged to earn special recognition in each group, quarterly and annually. The system intentionally connects the Royal Rangers discipleship process to the boys’ journey to manhood—adventure, character and task.
  4. LEARN IN INTERACTIVE WAYS
    Boys learn best when they hear instruction, see it demonstrated, immediately do it themselves, and when appropriate, have the opportunity to teach others.
  5. BELONG TO SOMETHING BIG
    Boys and young men want to feel as though they are part of a winning team or program. Attire contributes to a sense of belonging, to a sense of being part of something bigger than self.
  6. LEAD YOURSELF AND OTHERS
    The Royal Rangers program provides boys and young men with opportunities to learn and practice leadership skills that will help make their God-given dreams a reality.
  7. SERVE YOUR FAMILY, CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
    The Royal Rangers program encourages and provides tools for boys to make a difference in the world around them.

Junior Leadership Development Academy, Empowering the NEXT Generation

We have seen promotion videos, Facebook posts and heard other Commanders talk about Junior Leadership Development Academy (JLDA).  You may be wondering if it is everything that it is made out to be.  You may have never experienced it or even know what it is all about.  Will it stand up to the hype?  My experience through serving on staff as well as having many Rangers graduate JLDA, says yes, it will meet or exceed your expectations.

I have served as Patrol Advisor for Adventure Training Camp (ATC) (no longer available), Camp Commander of Ranger Training Camp (RTC) (the replacement to DTC/ATC) and just recently I had the privilege to serve as Camp Commander of a newly developed Action Camp called Shooting Sports Action Camp (SSAC).  If you look at my 13 plus year career as a Royal Rangers Commander, serving at three camps and observing other JLDA camps, it may not sound like a huge commitment.  Many of the years my work schedule did not permit me to have the time off to be at camp.  Though I couldn’t be there, I always had our boys attend.  We saw the value of junior leadership training from the very beginning and it did not take any time for us to see the benefits that came through JLDA.  The boys were more confident in their skills, decision making, and understanding of their role in the Outpost as a Junior Leader.

In my opinion, there is no better camp that Royal Rangers offers.  I have seen first time Salvations, deliverance from addiction, healed relationships and boys baptized in the Holy Spirit at the altar of a JLDA camp.  I have seen a boy who wasn’t very excited about Royal Rangers get recharged, refocused and set new goals for his life after attending JLDA.  I have seen Commanders rediscover their passion, mission and calling at a JLDA camp.  But the lasting result that is easily identified after camp is over is the sense of responsibility and state of maturity that a young man possesses at his local Outpost when attending Junior Leadership Development Academy.

JLDA is a process.  You can’t receive all of the benefits I am talking about by sending them just one time or by rushing them through the Academy to earn their saber as quick as possible.   The process works best when he comes back year after year and when the young man is able to apply what he has learned at his local Outpost over a period of time.  Age and maturity also plays a role in the results you will see.  We encourage our young men to continue to go through other Action Camps even after earning their saber to gain more experiences, apply their leadership knowledge and continue to develop as a man of God.  It teaches them that leadership development is a journey, not a destination, and that serving God and people is a part of the culture of a Ranger leader.

Action Camps are not just for young men.  This year was the first time Oklahoma had a Commander attend an Action Camp.  He was a Ranger Kids Commander that wanted a new experience and he was able to do it with his son.  The father and the son were able to work in the same patrol and experience the challenges, time shortages and accomplishments together.  We see many advantages to having a Commander in a patrol, so if you have been hesitant on “pulling the trigger” with this new way of training, I would encourage you to give it a try.

I believe there are many reasons for you to support your district JLDA camps.  If your District does not have what you are looking for, there are also several options for Action Camps throughout our Region that you may want to take advantage of.  Whatever you decide to do, I hope I was able to shed some light on this powerful tool Royal Rangers has called Junior Leadership Development Academy.

Kasey D. Bruce
NSSP Field Advisor