I want to introduce you a section of a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon that gives me pause during this time of harvest. He was a pastor in London in the late 1800’s, but he had a real affinity for the countryside and the outdoors. In his book, Farm Sermons, you can read some of his messages to country congregations. They are very insighful, especially to urban dwellers who, in his words, live in a world surrounded by “dungy bricks.”
The time is ripe for outdoor ministries to pop up in local churches because it meets profound needs for leadership development in our culture today. One of the next bubbles that we might see pop in this generation is the leadership bubble. People today are so busy they don’t even know who they are… we need wise wilderness shepherds who can persuade people to be brave, stop, and listen to the Heavenly Father’s voice…
The ropes course was thrilling, but I knew that my soul needed to be refilled. The wilderness was wooing me. I’m not just into the adventure. I’m into adventures with Jesus. With that attitude, outdoor adventures becomes another opportunity to experience God.
Great leaders, don’t necessarily long for those hills to run, but they know hills can’t be avoided for growth to occur. Hills we climb in ministry are like mile markers in a leader’s journey.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attempt a 16,000’ foot peak in Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador with about 20 youth leaders from all over Latin America. It is freeing for me to admit that I reached my limit yesterday. In my pride I wish I could say that I had the energy and strength to bag that peak, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. You could stick a fork in me. I was baked.
Like the night I survived a terrifying lightning storm with my two other 12 year old friends at the base of Hawk Peak one summer, we often witness God’s goodness and power through being exposed to the wildness of his Creation. And if God chooses, he will usher us into an encounter with him through those wilderness experiences. The book of Job is overflowing with powerful outdoor ministry curriculum. It is about how one man encountered God face to face through the wildness of Creation.
I remember an epoch climb when from dawn til dark I climbed not one, but three peaks covering over 20 miles of hiking in one day. Now I’m always up for an adventure, but honestly, I am more of a wanderer in the wilderness rather than a driven alpinist. Well, by the end of the day I had had it…. Like a soaked sponge that gets squeezed, who we really are comes out when the pressure is on.
Like a trade-show of ideas, a recent three-day event highlighted ways to connect with young people and probe their need for Christ. Social Media was a hot topic, and it reminded me of why so many of us believe wilderness leadership is the healthy sandwich that our Cheetos youth culture is starving for.
Most backcountry enthusiasts follow the mantra, “leave no trace.” Like the attitudes we cop when we have to “share the trail” with someone who is doing something different than us, I was reminded on the trail this past weekend that our sin can also leave a measurable impression. Like so many spiritual metaphors, time in the outdoors is a wikipedia of object lessons. We may think we are without sin or our rebellion only affects ourselves but more likely our behavior leaves a trail “littered with loose debris.”
Part 2 in the series, “Abraham’s Tent-Like Faith | Outdoor Ministry Inklings from Hebrews 11:8-9” I’m guessing that many of us camp in tents sometime throughout the year. This series on Abraham’s tent-like faith shows us how to seize this teachable moment to connect tent-camping with what our life of faith is supposed to look […]