In my earlier post, 3 Perspectives On Christian Outdoor Leadership Jobs, we argued that the time is ripe for outdoor ministries to start popping up in local churches because it meets profound needs that are relevant to our culture today. We also asserted that one of the next bubbles that might pop in this generation is the leadership bubble. Where are the upcoming leaders? There are genuine concerns about the commitment, maturity, and resilience of our upcoming younger leaders. And for this reason, outdoor leadership and adventure ministries are tools that I believe will be embraced widely by the church to shape and harden the next generation of younger leaders who have been pampered and insulated from responsibility.
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I’m a student of history, so I know this is not a new problem, unique to our day. But I do believe that a pendulum has swung way too far toward comfort and ease, which does not fare well in developing leaders. I know as a parent that if I make everything easy for my kids, when they go off into the world, they will be rudely awakened. Today we have a large percentage of our younger generation too afraid to launch. Their parents and mentors have not been bold enough to push them out of the nest. This will soon lead to a leadership crisis. And this crisis will force a change when the church realizes that it still needs leaders, yet its leaders are cowered in the foxholes rather than storming the hill on the front lines.
Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment… —David Spangler
SOME CHURCHES WHO PREPARE FOR THE LEADERSHIP BUBBLE TO POP WILL SAIL AHEAD OF THE FLEET AND LEAD THE WAY FOR OTHERS…
To be ahead of the game and avoid a leadership crisis, any church must address what it is doing to develop leaders among the next generation. I contend that especially student ministries that focus on building resilience and toughness into our young people today will not only be around tomorrow, but they will be the flagships that we need… these will be the churches and mission communities that will be sailing out ahead of the fleet showing others the way.
The intent of this post is not to defend the biblical support for outdoor adventure ministries… if you’d like to read more about that, you can read my book, Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice. Instead the point I want to make in this post is that ministries of all shapes and sizes are going to be looking for more experiential approaches to ministry in the coming decades. So we will need more people who are competent and comfortable using outdoor adventure as a ministry tool.
Stay tuned for my next post in this series on outdoor ministry jobs. In the next post we will explore both vocational and volunteer opportunities in Christian outdoor leadership.
- Have a look at my Recommended Outdoor Programs List and see some of the colleges, camps, and church-based outdoor ministry programs that are leading the way in providing models for effective adventure ministry to today’s generation.