Have you ever been on the front lines of a ministry where you field challenging questions of faith, failings and fulfillment? Have you opened yourself to new, sometimes uncomfortable situations, yet find that you have grown to more fully understand your purpose as a Christian through those circumstances?
It may have been a phone call from the nominating committee; it may have been the Holy Spirit working on your soul, encouraging you to take an active role in the mentoring of young people. Somewhere along the line, many devoted Christians have accepted the call to the front-line ministry of Pathfindering!
The Pathfinder Club is a worldwide youth organization sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, although young people of any religious persuasion, or none at all, are welcome and encouraged to join. The target group is young people in grades five to 10. Voted into existence by the world church in 1950, Pathfinders has grown exponentially over the past seven decades. There are roughly 2 million Pathfinders in 60,000 clubs in over 180 countries around the world.
It’s called a club because you join because you want to, not because it’s required. Being a Pathfinder (including staff) is supposed to be fun and exciting. If it’s not, then something is wrong. New members become official at a special ceremony called Induction.
Club activities provide opportunities for the young people to learn Christian values, develop self-discipline, make friends, acquire skills and hobbies, learn teamwork and leadership skills, and come to love and serve all of God’s creation, including mankind.
Pathfinders do this during weekly or bimonthly club meetings, monthly camp outs, Sabbath and Sunday field trips, outreach activities, and during Conference-wide events such as fairs and camporees.
If the Adventist Church in America had kept its own children over the last 150 years, there would now be 9 million Adventists in North America, rather than 1 million.
The Pathfinder Club uses two learning curricula: Honors and Investiture Achievement. A third, the Teen Leadership Training (TLT) curriculum, trains teens in club and church leadership.
Honors are lists of learning activities related to a specific field of study such as stamp collecting, swimming, or sewing. If you were a Scout as a child, then Honors are like Merit Badges. Honors are available in over 350 areas of study. General categories include Arts & Crafts, Health & Science, Household Arts, Nature, Outdoor Industries, Spiritual Growth, Outreach, Heritage, Recreation, and Vocations.
Individual honors can require anywhere from hours (Dogs) to years (Teaching) to complete. Honor tokens (felt patches) are issued to a Pathfinder when they complete the Honor.
Investiture Achievement is a highly developed curriculum of learning in six levels: Friend, Companion, Explorer, Ranger, Voyager, and Guide. Typically, a level is earned each year. Completion of an Investiture Achievement level is awarded at a special ceremony near the end of the year called Investiture. All 28 Fundamental beliefs are taught in these six levels.
Why Do Pathfinders?
It is our hope that through the activities and study of Pathfindering, we may help young people in their Christian walk and assist them in their development into an outstanding Christian leader. In a more fundamental way, we simply want to provide these wonderful young people with a safe place to fellowship and grow closer to Jesus. At the core of this all is the Pathfinder Pledge and Law
By the grace of God, I will be pure, kind and true. I will keep the Pathfinder law. I will be a servant of God and a friend to man.
The Pathfinder Law
The Pathfinder Law is for me to keep the morning watch, do my honest part, care for my body, keep a level eye, be courteous and obedient, walk softly in the sanctuary, keep a song in my heart and go on God’s errands.
Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed his sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bad them, "Follow Me."
We Want Them!
Many young people feel that adults do not like them. Sometimes they even question if their own parents like them. Most adults send out these vibes because they feel that the young people do not like them, and so starts an ever-descending spiral of misunderstanding, frustration, and pain.
We are committed to a different course.
We want our members to know that they are loved and we look forward to having them around. That’s one reason we have such a full calendar. We want them to know that we are going to look out for them, we are ready to listen to them, to care for them, and guide them.
The Pathfinder program is not for spectators. It is intended to be an active program. That means more than lots of things on the schedule, it means a minimum of sitting, a minimum of lectures, a minimum of indoor stuff. It should be out and about. And in an important aside, all members, including adult leaders, should study, explore, play, and pray with their Pathfinders. Everyone participates.
Most of all, the Pathfinder program is a mentoring ministry. A ministry focused on connecting young people to Christ. All these activities, while good in and of themselves, are part of the program for a higher reason. We are not talking about learning objectives or mandated skill sets, we are talking about root purpose:
- To lead our young people to the foot of the cross
- To enable them to lead others to the foot of the cross
- To keep them connected to, and obedient to the Lord who died for them on the cross
- To encourage a lifetime of exploration, learning, leadership, and service
- To provide them with caring, Christian, life mentors
If you would like to learn more on having a Pathfinder or Adventurer club in your local church, email email@example.com. We have trained, experience leaders who will help you get started in this front-line ministry.
*Some excerpts taken from Basic Staff Training Workshop Resources written by Glen Milam