Word to Chaplains
The Boys’ Brigade is part of the Church. It does not seek to be an independent organisation which functions as ‘another church’ within the life of the Churches. It is rooted and grounded in local congregations and its structure of State and Battalion Councils, has the main function of providing a service to the work of the local congregation.
The Boys’ Brigade is therefore a servant of the Church. It has sought to fulfil this task through more than one hundred years. During that time it has constantly sought to change its activities to suit the needs of the times, while remaining firm in its Object. It is in view of this Object that the Chaplain is immediately seen as an important part of the staff of the local Company. Whilst the Captain and Officers of the Company will be men and women of Christian conviction and commitment, the Chaplain has particular abilities to contribute to the life and work of the Company which are his professional concern. Without the encouragement and active support of the Chaplain, The Boys’ Brigade Company cannot hope to fulfil its task within the life of the congregation and community in which it is set.
The company in your church
Its general value
What then is the purpose of the Company within your congregation? The Company is one means by which the Church can give a Christian lead to Boys. For many Boys it is their only contact with the Church and the Company is therefore rightly seen as a means of outreach to Boys who may not have family ties with the church. The importance of this feature of the Company cannot be overlooked. Thousands of Boys every year come into contact with Christian attitudes and Christian teaching through The Boys’ Brigade who would otherwise have no relationship with Christ and His people. It can therefore be said that the Company is part of the outreach of the Church in mission.
A training Ground
The Company is also the training ground for Boys who already have family ties with the local congregation. It provides the circumstances in which not only formal Christian Education may be advanced, but more importantly, perhaps, informal Christian Education through the outlooks, attitudes and leadership of Christian Officers. The example of Christian men and women themselves following Christ in their own lives, is one of the strongest teaching aids’ for Christ that there can be, and Boys will in every part of the Company activities be in touch with those who can point by their attitudes and outlooks to Christ. The Company is therefore part of the Christian Nurture of the Church.
It is through the provision of Boy-orientated activities and a programme which recognises growing competence in these activities that The Boys’ Brigade Company seeks to fulfil its objective. By means of indoor and outdoor activities, spiritual, educational and recreational, the Company through it’s Officers, including the Chaplain, seeks to promote self discipline, self-respect, awareness of the value of obedience in working together, and reverence for the God who gives life to the world in which we life. In doing this, the Company seeks to maintain and increase the integration of the Boys within its ranks into the life of the whole Church, and above all, seeks to enable Boys to make Christian discipleship their own.
What exactly is the relationship between the Company and the local Church? Each local Company can only be enrolled by the authority of the governing body of the local congregation. The Company is under the supervision and control of the governing body of the local congregation and is subject to their decisions. The property of the Company belongs to the appropriate authority within the local Church. Likewise the Company has to give account of its financial affairs to the local Church body. Thus it can be seen that the ties with the local Church are complete and that a Boys’ Brigade Company can have no independent existence apart from the local Church. In all matters that affect the officership, existence and property of the Company, the local Church body has the final say. That is the clear legal position.
Nevertheless, in having a Boys’ Brigade Company, the local Church also has responsibilities. It has the responsibility to support the Officers who work in the Company in the Church’s name. This means positive support in ensuring that the Company is adequately staffed and financially viable (so that the Captain does not have to spend much time concerning himself with lack of money to do the work). In practice most Companies are self-financing, but there may well be occasions when the congregation have to help in this way to ensure that this part of their work continues, as it should. In this matter of supporting the Company, some congregations have found it helpful to organise a Church Support Group. The function of such a group, drawn from interested parents and friends, is to give the practical help, which a Company may need from time to time: transport for the Boys representing the Company in competitions etc. Companies which have a Church Support Group have found them to be invaluable to their work.
It is also true that the Company has responsibilities to the local Church. These include active participation in the efforts being made at congregational level, whether financial or otherwise. It is the duty of the Company to ensure that its activities do not infringe the activities of other groups in the congregation, and constant communication between Company and congregation is therefore essential. The Company fails in its duty if it ever forgets that it is part of the Church, and it must act accordingly at all times.
The Chaplain is an Officer of the Company and, as such, is both entitled and encouraged to attend staff meetings. This is an important part of the contact which the Chaplain should seek to maintain with the rest of the staff at all times. In particular, the working relationship between the Captain of the Company and the Chaplain is vital. Here opportunities should be sought to ensure regular discussion of the work of the Company, not only on particular matters but also on the general attitude and approach to the work. Without this close and harmonious link the Company will have lost something of deep and lasting value to its work.
In essence, the Chaplain is the encourager of the Company, taking an active interest and a part where possible in its work. Officers give a large portion of their spare time to the Company and, although they do not seek public praise for it, they do appreciate the Chaplain’s encouragement and support for what they do. In the matter of the Christian commitment of the Officers, the Chaplain has a unique role to play in enabling them to strengthen and express their faith in Christ. With younger Officers, this support can be the catalyst which brings about an ever deepening understanding of their Christian faith and discipleship, which in turn benefits the Boys of the Company.
The selection and appointment of Officers is ultimately the responsibility of the governing body of the local Church. But here the Chaplain has a vital role to play. He is the bridge between the Company and governing body in this matter. Usually it is by his recommendation that the selection and appointment is made. Thus the Chaplain has the important task of knowing those who are considered for officership in the Company. This is so important that its significance cannot be overstated. The well being of the Company depends on its Officers and unless prayer and thought and care are given to the choice of Officers the final effect on the work of the Company can be bad.
The qualities looked for in new Officers will be many and varied as the activities of the Company are varied. But paramount in any selection and appointment will be the Christian commitment of those being considered. The Boys’ Brigade is a ‘front line’ part of the mission of the local Church and men and women of clear Christian calibre are needed for such work. The constitution of The Boys’ Brigade requires that Officers are members or adherents of the Church (not necessarily of the home Church although this is greatly to be desired).
It is very important that the Chaplain should become a friend to the Boys - someone they know as a person and not just as the face in the pulpit, or the figure who flits in once a year. The only way that this living relationship can be fostered is by the presence of the Chaplain on regular occasions at weekly meetings and, when time permits it, at the outdoor activities in which the Boys engage. Often the fruit of this relationship or friendship is difficult to see but many Boys have valued the fact that when some moral or spiritual problem has loomed for them, they have been able to talk to the Chaplain as a known friend.
In many cases, the Chaplain has contact with the homes from which the Boys come through the congregation, but there are many Boys whose home is not in contact with the Church. It is a good and useful thing for the Chaplain to visit the homes of these Boys to get to know the families from which they come and be on friendly terms with these families. This is something the Boy will appreciate and value.
The Chaplain will pray that Boys will come to a time of commitment to Christ and His church and, since many local Churches have regular classes for Church membership, it is a good thing to encourage Boys to join such a class. This cements this relationship with the Church and does, in itself, a valuable opportunity for widening the Boys’ understand of the Christian faith and life. It is obvious that this is one area where tact and sensibility to each Boy’s maturity is very important. A friendly invitation goes much further than an ill-timed injunction! Boys will also be encouraged to participate in other Church activities, especially those involving young people.
Camps and Houseparties
Whenever it is possible, the Chaplain should try to attend the Number Two Section Camp or Number One Section Houseparty. These are the greatest opportunities that the Chaplain will have of getting to know the Boys (and Officers) well. It is also an opportunity not to be missed to share the message of Jesus with the Boys at prayers. In the right spirit and atmosphere, these occasions can be the spiritual turning point of a lift) Boy’s life. Many Boys can trace their commitment to Christ to ~ the opportunity of such an occasion. It must be said, on the other hand, that Camps and Houseparties can be spoilt for many where they are used as occasions for hothouse force feeding of the gospel! In this, as in all matters, the Holy Spirit will honour endeavours honestly undertaken.
To sum up this section: our first duty to the Boys is to befriend them; the sharing of our faith will follow.
The Boys’ Brigade has always laid stress on Its Christian intention. From this follow some of the rules governing the requirements for awards. Attendance at Sunday School, Church Service, or at the Company Bible Sunday School
At Pre-Number One Section (known in differing States as either Anchor Boys or Cabin Boys) (Boys 5-7) and No. 1 Section levels (Boys 8-12), encouragement is given to attend Sunday School or Church Service where no Sunday School is held. The Chaplain should seek to encourage this by personally inviting the Boys, by ensuring that the kind of teaching given is attractive to the Boys in terms of presentation , and by encouraging Officers to share with other members of the local Church, this important work. Boys will settle more happily where they see their Officers present.
At this age level, integration into the teaching agency of the local Church is complete, although in the No.1 Section the Achievement Scheme provides for Spiritual teaching to be done also at the weekly meeting. In this, the Chaplain can be of considerable assistance and support to Officers and may also wish to take part.
At No. 2 Section level (Boys 12-18) many, but not all, Companies have a Bible Class often held on the Parade night. These classes are normally run by the Officers, but the selection of teaching material used is the prerogative of the Chaplain who is responsible for deciding what will be used. It is always best when this is done in conjunction with the staff as normally they are required to put the intended subject matter and methods into practice. Here the Chaplain should positively offer practical help in the preparation of such work so that no Officer is left with a task he or she feels is beyond their abilities.
It is good practice for the Chaplain to visit the Bible Class when possible and to share in its work. Such visits should be undertaken in such a way that Officers do not feel uncomfortable or under examination!
Where the local Church has a Family Service, perhaps on a monthly basis, it is good for the Company to be encouraged to attend, not necessarily in uniform but as part of the whole Church community. This strengthens the ties of Company and congregation and helps to break down any suggestion that the Boys’ Brigade Bible Class is an alternative to a Church Service. Even where no such Family Service is held, the Chaplain should encourage the ‘B.B. Pew’, inviting Officers who will be coming to Church to bring Boys with them.
Scripture Knowledge Awards
Within the No. 2 Section award structure, the Scripture Knowledge Award has an important place since it is one of the awards, which are obligatory for The Queen’s Badge. The purpose of the Scripture Knowledge award is to afford a period during the varied activities of the Company when the teaching of the Bible can be related to personal and social issues, which confront the Boys in their lives. The content of the course is a matter for the Chaplain, although some Battalions suggest a course, and the Chaplain needs to give careful consideration to this to ensure that R fits into the other Christian Education being received in bible Class and Church. Where possible, the Chaplain should seek to undertake this work along with the Officers so that Christian teaching from professional and lay people, offering a wide spectrum of Christian understanding and experience may reinforce the informal Christian influence of The Boys’ Brigade.
There are a number of special occasions when the Chaplain can give help to the Company, and reinforce the united concern of Company and local Church.
The Annual Display
The Chaplain is often asked to chair the Annual Display of the Company and is usually asked to lead the short devotions at the beginning and end and usually to speak to those attending. This is an important occasion for the Company and as an Officer of the Company the Chaplain should also seek to make it an important event. This is an opportunity to thank the Officers for the dedicated work they have done during the session, and to thank the parents who have undertaken an interest in all that the Company has sought to do.
The Annual Enrolment Service
Many Companies hold an Annual Enrolment Service, which is of particular importance to the Officers, when the whole Company is dedicated to the work of Christ’s Kingdom but, in special sense, the Officers are being commissioned to the task of Christian development of the Boys. This is an occasion for reminding the congregation of what is being undertaken in their name, giving encouragement and support to Officers and welcoming the Boys, particularly those who may be new to the Company.
Company Church Parades
Each Company has its own pattern and practice concerning Parades to the local Church, but the Chaplain should seek to encourage the Company to parade as a Company to Church at least once a year apart from the Enrolment Service. The theme on such an occasion should be appropriate to the young people present so that the Church Parade may be a worthwhile and memorable occasion for them. When making arrangements for a Church Parade, the Chaplain should discuss with the Captain such matters as the carrying of Colours (where this is done) and any inspection prior to or following the service. Where Church hymn-books are not available in sufficient numbers, consideration should be given to producing a sheet for the occasion; there is nothing more disheartening to Boys than a service in which they cannot share because of lack of words.
Founder's Day Parade
Founders Day is observed by the Brigade throughout the world on the last Sunday of October. This is the Sunday closes to the birthdate of the Founder of The Boys’ Brigade, Sir William Alexander Smith. Usually States and/or battalions parade on this day, or on a day in suitably close proximity, and Chaplains are asked from time to time to conduct the service in their own Church. It is important that Chaplains so invited should consult State or Battalion Office Bearers to ensure that all necessary details are looked after. Where possible the Chaplain should attend this annual service as an Officer of his Company.
It should be noted that as Officers of a Company, Chaplains are also members of the local Battalion council. Often the business of the Battalion is of necessity administrative, the organisation of competitions, arranging of parades, and so on. But the Battalion is also a strong attitude-forming group amongst Officers and the attendance of the Chaplain can be a helpful thing. Apart from the contribution, which the Chaplain will make to the Battalion meetings, he will also learn much about the workings and policies of The Boys’ Brigade, which may not be so easily appreciated at Company level.
It is clear from this booklet that the contribution of the Chaplain to the work of the Company can be of considerable benefit to the Company. The Chaplain is the key person in the local Church who can give the support, encouragement and practical help that makes for a truly Church-orientated Company. The fact is that the more help the Chaplain can give to the Company, the more the Officers and Boys of the Company will grow into the life of the local Church. This task of Company Chaplaincy is, of necessity, one amongst many which the Chaplain has to undertake for the local Church, yet it is one of worth and importance. The advancement of Christ’s Kingdom among Boys is a worthy undertaking in which to be actively involved.
Peter Wiseman (25 Feb 2014)