God uses outdoor ministry to make you something. We want to empower others to leave a legacy and a lasting impact on the world by submitting to the anvil of discomfort from time to time. As facilitators we help people realize that the whole time during the experience, as stressful as it may have been, that all that time we were under the Potter’s hand. He wants to make us a vessel for noble purposes.
We want to hear God speak to us. We daily need his guidance. Yet, the clutter, busyness, and noise of life at times makes us feel like God’s still small voice is being drowned out. Do you ever freak out a bit and say to yourself something like, “I don’t care what anyone else has to say, I just want to hear what God has to say about this situation.” Well, if you have ever reached that place, then you are welcome member of the human race.
Why to so few experiential learning educators look to Jesus’ as a model experiential educator? This is like taking William Shakespeare or Charles Dickens out of an English Literature course. It can be compared to MBA program not mentioning Steve Jobs or Peter Drucker. For experiential learning advocates and outdoor education specialists, trying to avoid looking at Jesus as a model master teacher is just as ill-informed as an architecture professor neglecting to draw attention to Frank Lloyd Wright or Fredrick Law Olmsted. I believe that Jesus is not often mentioned as a master experiential learning educator because of an inadequate awareness of the facts.
The wilderness is a great leveler that will prepare people to open up. But you don’t wake up one day and automatically know how to facilitate discussions with a diverse group of people. If you want your group to discover the meaning of a biblical text and apply it to their lives without you spoon-feeding them, then the soft skill of writing well-crafted questions is a must.
This Fall some Colorado Christian University students went backpacking over the Four Pass Loop near Maroon Bells in the Snowmass Wilderness. This video is full of great wilderness quotes from the Bible that will inspire and encourage you. Jim Doenges, the director of CCU’s Outdoor Leadership Program is providing students with the skills to lead others outdoors as well as the experience to understand their need for solitude with Jesus in the outdoors.
The perspective you gain from a mountain top experience can help you when you walk through some of the more difficult ravines of my normal daily routine—in the valley below. Have you ever observed that hardly anything lives on the mountaintop? This is because the environment is too harsh for creatures to thrive. Life is lived in the valley 24/7 but God knows that we need mountain top experiences from time to time to carve landmarks of perspective into our memory, which can fuel new hope as we journey in the valleys below. Here’s how…
By aligning your outdoor ministry with the youth and college programs you build sustainability into your outdoor ministry. Without sustainability, outdoor ministry programs usually only last a couple of years and then wane.
Teenagers are so distracted these days and have so much information to process. Yet many of them lack having a loving adult (who has their best interest in mind) help them think through God’s design for relationships. Outdoor ministry provides opportunity for these conversations.
The 50th Celebration of the Wilderness Act of 64 is this year! A lesser known fact is that Howard Zahniser, who penned the Wilderness Act that set aside wilderness areas for every American, was profoundly inspired by his faith in Christ:
His sense of community was also rooted in his Christian upbringing. Though he had drifted away from Free Methodism by the 1950s and did not belong to any particular denomination, he did remain a Christian, devoted to Christian tenets of stewardship toward the earth. -Mark W. T Harvey, William Cronon
Many of the phrases Howard Zahniser used throughout the law give indication of his love for God, who created the earth. He talks frequently and eloquently about the biblical idea of stewardship. For example, he wrote:
A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.
Here is the text of the Wilderness Act of 1964 written by Howard Zahniser