Connections: Doug Marsh
Royal Rangers: Mentoring for 50 Years
Doug Marsh has served as national Royal Rangers director since early 2007. Marsh recently visited with Pentecostal Evangel Editor Ken Horn.
evangel: Give us some background about Royal Rangers, for those who may not be familiar with the ministry.
MARSH: We mobilize, inspire and resource men (and many women as well) to invest their lives in boys and young men. These are the future leaders of our homes, our churches and our communities. The world sends many mixed messages to boys and young men. Through the lives of our Rangers leaders, they are receiving a clear message that being like Jesus Christ is what it means to be a real man. In short, Royal Rangers is a mentoring ministry for future men.
evangel: Talk about why 2012 is a very special year for Royal Rangers.
MARSH: The ministry started in 1962, so 2012 is our 50th anniversary. We will celebrate by holding our largest event ever. Camporama will gather boys from all across the United States and over 20 nations around the world. It is a huge celebration.
evangel: What kinds of activities are the boys involved with in Royal Rangers?
MARSH: When Rangers began in 1962, the activity that attracted the greatest number of boys was camping. As a result, back then it was largely modeled after the Boy Scouts, with a camping feel and a uniformed look.
While we still have that today, a church can opt to run Royal Rangers with or without uniforms. It can be a camping program, a sports program, a technology program, a ministry outreach or any combination of these.
We’ve really shifted Rangers through the years to put the pastor and his vision at the center of the ministry. It’s flexible enough that the church can choose how to focus it. In short, we put men and boys together, doing activities that are of mutual interest, whether that be hunting, hiking, baseball, photography — or even website design.
We want to build relationships in a highly interactive manner. Men build relationships by doing things side-by-side with boys. In the process, discipleship begins to happen.
evangel: Is there a church that is too small to have a Royal Rangers program?
MARSH: If the church has the desire to reach the lost, and wants to reach out to young families, then there is no church too small. We have plans for incrementally growing a Royal Rangers program by starting small and growing big. There are four groups that span ages 5-17. A church may not be able to offer all of that on day one, but Rangers has a track record of helping even a small church start small and grow the number of families coming to the church.
There are even examples of churches that have been started though Royal Rangers (and Girls Ministries), as a way to reach their communities and grow. There really is no church that could not start Royal Rangers if they are willing to start small and grow.
evangel: Royal Rangers, then, is an outreach?
MARSH: Absolutely. Rangers has traditionally been a midweek program for the church, and it can continue to do that. But a lot of churches are opting to use it as an after-school program.
We also have churches that use Royal Rangers as their Sunday morning outreach to the community because families outside the church will often come out at that time, and bring their children. So, Rangers can include a strong emphasis on outreach or a strong emphasis on discipleship.
evangel: Many boys have been saved under Royal Rangers, and many boys in the church have had their lives turned around for the good through the ministry. Could you share some examples?
MARSH: I had opportunity to pray with a young man at the altar recently. His unsaved mother was raising him alone, and he came to Christ within the past few months. He was a boy who, by all accounts, was tough on a single mom. The transformation that occurred in his life caused his mom to say, “I’m going to have to find out what these people at church did to you.” She has since come to know the Lord because of the boy’s example.
Stories such as these are very common. There are so many lives being changed. I always tell our Rangers leaders that evangelism and discipleship work 100 percent of the time. That doesn’t mean 100 percent of the people will respond positively. But when you cast the seed, God always honors it with fruit. And that’s what is happening.
evangel: Talk about leadership in the local church. What would you say to the laymen who think Royal Rangers sounds like something they might like to try, yet they don’t feel qualified?
MARSH: All of us have had those same kinds of thoughts. I’m going to stand in front of a group of kids and suddenly wake up to realize I’ve made a tragic decision. We’ve done a number of things to help take the fear out of leading Royal Rangers.
I would encourage any potential leaders that we have created excellent resources; you’re not flying blind. We have a leaders manual, and all our resources are conveniently found online. We offer them online so we can keep them current and relevant. Included are week-by-week meeting guides — everything you need if, for example, you want to teach basketball.
We also have training to take the fear out of leading. We won’t throw you into the lions’ den without some instruction from guys who have been there and done that. You’d be surprised by the network of men involved.
I would say to a potential leader, “You probably live very close to some amazing Rangers leaders who are eager to help you.” This network is there to offer encouragement, and when you are down they will lift you up. We really can help men who feel called but have that fear of being unqualified.
evangel: Tell us a bit more about Camporama. What will be going on with that celebration?
MARSH: We will convene July 9-13, 2012, in the southwest corner of Missouri. Royal Rangers has a 1,500-acre camp there, in an area surrounded by Mark Twain National Forest. It’s peaceful, quiet and amazingly beautiful.
From sunrise to sunset there will be intentional activities. We will start the morning with a devotional and various smaller group meetings. They will participate in activities throughout the day that focus on ways to get men and boys doing things together. Camporama offers everything guys want to do, in one place and during one week.
There will be extreme inflatables, airplanes, trucks — we’ll have everything guys want to do, such as shooting rifles and shotguns, archery, hiking and paintball.
Then, at the evening services, we will have some amazing times with God, dynamic services with media, fireworks and lasers. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
At the end of the week, we believe God will send these young men home with a confidence that they have what it takes to please God and experience a relationship with Him. They’ll leave with assurance that God is not far away. He’s right there in their hearts and lives.
For more information, visit RoyalRangers.com.
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