CSB Ministries, founded in 1937 by Joe Coughlin as a weekly club program to better challenge his restless Sunday School class of boys, has grown and evolved to be a significant ministry to men and boys in both USA and Canada. From their website, here’s a little more about their history:
At first, they met for games and Bible study, but the young collegian [Mr. Coughlin] soon added crafts, marching and eventually a set of achievement tests based on a knighthood theme. He took the boys on hikes and cut notches on their walking sticks to indicate their particular accomplishments. More boys came and Coughlin recruited his friend, Warren Wigand, to help him. In the summer of 1938, Coughlin wrote a small handbook that outlined the ranks boys could achieve. A parallel girls’ program, eventually called Pioneer Girls, took root among Wheaton College coeds and became a partner in Coughlin’s mission.
One of the aspects of their program that I admire most is their “Herald of Christ” award. It really shouldn’t be compared to other youth program’s awards except to say that it represents the pinnacle of advancement within their program. However, it remains highly distinctive for a number of reasons which ought to be relevant to Christians:
- While there is a strong component of youth-led (self-led and group participation) advancement steps, it’s not solely a skills or learning award.
- There is a prolonged period of mentorship, bible study, scripture memorization, written reflections on select scriptures and a final 1000 word essay summarizing his personal reflection on his faith.
- There are two service projects — one three month community service effort and another three month church ministry effort.
It is a rare event for a boy to complete this award since it requires a solid, focused commitment.
On June 12th, 2014, the 746th “Herald of Christ” award was presented. This award is far more difficult to complete and represents an amazing challenge as compared to the Hornaday Silver Award (1,100 awarded since 1914) or BSA’s Eagle (more than 2.3 million awarded since 1912). Admittedly, the CSB program draws fewer members than, say Boy Scouts of America or 4-H Clubs, but that does NOT undermine the genuine respect or admiration of the hard work and discipline needed to complete the award’s requirements.
The Bible talks about believers appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ (aka the Bema Seat Judgment) (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Cor5:10, et.al.) where we might receive reward/award for how we lived our lives. Paul talks about running a race to receive a prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) and reminds Timothy (2 Tim 2:5) that an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
How we live our lives, how we choose what to pursue in our work, play and rest times, can directly serve God and fulfill his directives as delivered through scriptures or we can sit idly by (or overindulge in permissive activities that have little to no eternal significance) as time passes. We have a wide degree of latitude to pursue hobbies and such, but when we’re standing before Jesus (who gave His own life on your behalf) will we have regrets that we could have done more to spread the gospel message to our families, friends, community? Will we watch as all our vain pursuits are burned up by a consuming fire?
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 – “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
So, as a father of two sons and as an Eagle scout, I find myself pondering what I would do if I could start over and personally pursue a “Herald of Christ” award as a boy. I believe it’s clear that it would have helped me invest time and energy in my community, church and my personal relationship with God in a much more intimate way that could have had generational and eternal repercussions.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that my time invested in Boy Scouts was a wasted or an ill-conceived effort, or that it’s not a valuable experience — it is! Certainly, a Christian man can live a highly dedicated and highly effective, life accomplishing God’s plans and purposes whether he has ever pursued any sort of recognition award (or none at all), or by having participating in various programs (i.e. sports, clubs, etc.) However, standing here with hindsight (and wondering about future hindsight in heaven) I still wonder if this alternate path would have paid much stronger dividends in my life than even the great experiences of participating in BSA, or other pursuits.
Trail Life USA has established its own pinnacle award — the Freedom Award — which has been discussed in other articles at this site.
So why discuss the “Herald of Christ” award from CSB at a Trail Life “fan site”?
- To build awareness of other programs and awards which can help us value our present focus
- To remind us that our time on Earth is fleeting and we should carefully weigh our investment of time and energy in everything we choose to pursue
- To encourage boys to recognize that they should have fun while growing up, but that growing up is a form of practicing to be an excellent adult if fun is connected to an appropriate vision.
Remember, keep everything in perspective:
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
- Colossians 3:17 – Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
- Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
If you’d like to learn more about CSB, please visit their web site. Here’s a little more info on their program and some links:
CSB’s mission is summarized in this statement — “Building godly men of today and tomorrow” It is further explained in the following outline:
- The men of today are the men now serving or are ready to serve Christ by leading boys. We exist to build up these men in Christ.
- The men of tomorrow are the young men and boys of today. We exist to build up these young men and boys in Christ.
- The phrase “…godly men of today and tomorrow” speaks to a central purpose. Equipping boys to be the godly men of tomorrow – able to serve, lead and disciple in family, church and community!
CSB’s mission is accomplished by several key tactics:
- Training, equipping and encouraging men for ministry in general and ministry to young men and boys specifically.
- Empowering men to use their own gifts, talents and experience to teach the truth of God’s Word with insight and enthusiasm.
- Encouraging young men and boys to grow in Christ-likeness through relationships with godly men, through fun Bible-related activities that are exciting and relevant to them, through applying Scripture to daily life, through opportunities to serve Christ together, and through memorizing God’s Word.
- Providing materials that give men a practical, fun and dynamic way to disciple young men and boys for Christ so that they develop mentally, physically, spiritually and socially.
- Fostering the skill of fathering through mutual father/son experiences.
- II Timothy 2:2, Proverbs 22:6, Luke 2:52, Titus 2:6-8
If you’re not familiar with CSB Ministries, you may want to investigate their web site where you can find details like: