What is Outdoor Ministry?

So What is Outdoor Ministry All About?

“Did you know over half of Jesus’ teachings recorded in the Bible occurred in an outdoor setting? The New Testament contains roughly 366 coherent units of Jesus’ teaching.[i] Called pericopes, these units are sets of verses that form a unit of thought used for public teaching.  Often the English Bible has a heading before these blocks of teaching to help you follow the beginning and end of that particular passage.  For example, if you look at Matthew 5 in many English translations it will say “The Beatitudes,” which denotes a unit of Jesus’ teaching.  If you look at every block of His teaching in the New Testament, you’ll discover that more than 50% of them occurred in the outdoors, whereas 16% occurred indoors.  The particular indoor or outdoor setting of the remaining 33% of Jesus’ teaching is unknown, but from the context the majority of these passages may also have occurred in the outdoors.[ii] In stark contrast, most of today’s preaching and teaching happens indoors where there are no natural creation analogies from which to draw.

Some might be inclined to say, ‘Who cares where we teach, the content is what matters, not the setting.’  I have used the outdoors extensively to teach Scripture over the past 20 years.  And the Scriptures show Jesus highly valued experiential learning in the outdoors.  Many evangelists and Bible teachers will talk about the outdoor or wilderness context in which Jesus taught, but few of us practice teaching the way Jesus did – in the outdoors.”

-Excerpt from Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice by Dr. Ashley Denton


[i] Aland, Kurt. ed. Synopsis of the Four Gospels, United Bible Societies, 1982.  This resource denotes each block of Jesus’ teaching recorded in the New Testament.

 

[ii] The breakdown of Jesus teaching is as follows:  Indoor (43 pericopes), Outdoor (142 pericopes), Uncertain location (91 pericopes). Over half of Jesus’ teachings occurred in the outdoors.  Of the teaching that took place in the outdoors, 89% occurred outside of the city and 11% was outdoors but in a city. Only 16% of His teachings designate an indoor setting in the text. Of His indoor teaching, 69% occurred in some sort of home or residential dwelling, 25% in synagogues, and less than 5% was in other buildings or Herod’s palace. We are uncertain of the location of 33% of Jesus’ blocks of teaching.