2) More reviews:
In Christian Outdoor Leadership, Ashley Denton achieves a coup d’etat by surprising even seasoned readers of the New Testament about how much of Jesus’ teaching and discipleship takes place outdoors. We all have seen the amazing results of organizations like Outward Bound, but Denton takes it a step farther by demonstrating the theological basis for outdoor ministry and mentoring. If you are looking for an alternative to the inwardly focused, self-referential spiral of today’s hedonistic spirituality, then go no farther. Christian Outdoor Leadership calls an ‘inward’ and ‘indoor’ generation back out into the great outdoors – and reminds us that this is God’s world and it is still his favorite workshop!
–TIMOTHY C. TENNENT, Ph.D. (author of Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam)
Professor of World Christianity
Asbury Theological Seminary
Ashley’s years of experience in youth ministry and wilderness adventures set the stage for this journey through the Scriptures in search of a theology of wilderness ministry. For many of us who are involved in leading wilderness expeditions, this book fills a long-standing gap in the literature of our field by providing a Scriptural basis for the significance of the wilderness environment as a ministry platform. In this, Ashley Denton has given us a great gift.
Assistant Professor of Outdoor Leadership, Simpson University
President, Christian Adventure Association
Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice is the first comprehensive Christian text on outdoor leadership. It should be required reading in every college and university that seeks to prepare outdoor leaders. This is a superb book that will benefit both seasoned practitioners and those seeking to be equipped to serve as outdoor ministers in congregational, parachurch, or mission contexts. Denton’s book steps in to fill the vacuum of Christian literature on outdoor leadership. It will likely be a cornerstone for years to come. Denton’s sound theology mobilizes and motivates as he writes in a well-organized, crisp, and conversational style. He speaks from experience and a deep and passionate faith in the truth of Scripture, the love of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a seminal book.
–JIM DOENGES, Assistant Program Manager, Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries
The lessons in, Christian Outdoor Leadership, are timely and universal. Ashley uncovers and examines in detail absolute truths that apply equally as well in the boardroom as they do in the great outdoors. If you are in a business leadership position you need this book to survive everyday in the wilderness of American business where everything (including morals) gets tested each day. Teams bond in the wilderness just like they do when they face daunting challenges in the office. I highly recommend this book. Reading it will equip you to survive in the many wildernesses we encounter.
–HAL MASSEY, Former Vice President, Hewlett Packard Integrity Hardware Business
Ashley Denton carefully builds a prominent cairn for practitioners in the field of Christian outdoor leadership and wilderness ministry by expertly pointing new and experienced adventure ministers to the ancient model of how Jesus used the wilderness for outreach and discipleship. This book is refreshing and impressive.
Director, Young Life’s Wilderness Ranch
Ashley Denton exposes something that we have clearly lost sight of today. Human beings have known since the beginning that God made his creation as an invaluable gift to help us encounter Him personally and learn the secrets of his Kingdom from his handiwork. In Christian Outdoor Leadership Ashley takes us into the reason why we need outdoor adventure and wilderness ministry. He provides a thorough theology of recreational ministry, and then brings us into a well-developed and comprehensive practical application of what it all means. Christian Outdoor Leadership is more than a book—it is an outstanding resource for every follower of Christ in that it calls us back to a simple and timeless lifestyle of ministry that patterns the life of Jesus. This is a foundational book that I highly recommend!
–CHAP CLARK, Ph.D. (Author, Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers). Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
Ashley Denton knows Jesus, theology, the wilderness, and young people. In Christian Outdoor Leadership he artfully and powerfully ties the ropes of his knowledge into a knot that can bear the weight of outdoor ministry in any culture. More importantly, however, Ashley’s love for God, adoring wonder of creation, and passion for young people make this sturdy book a reliable and authentic field guide for anyone who aspires to spiritual leadership. Read it and be equipped to thrive, no matter the wilderness in which you find yourself.
Instructor of Spiritual Formation, Denver Theological Seminary
Author, The One True Thing
Christian Outdoor Leadership was inspirational! This book made my top ten list after only a few minutes into it. If you’ve ever been on a hike that involved heart-to-heart talks between hikers as they traversed along a day’s trail, then reading this book is a lot like walking behind Dr. Ashley Denton and listening to him integrate the beauty and power of the backcountry with the joy and challenge of following Christ in today’s world. I loved the way he keeps pointing the reader to Jesus and how Jesus used outdoor experiences to speak truths to hungry souls. Whether you’re in ministry as a Christian leader or just drawn to outdoor experiences that bring you closer to God, this book is foundational. You can read it from cover to cover, or browse the table of contents and pick your way through to your heart’s content. I will always have a copy of this book in my library and recommend it without hesitation.”
–SCOTT (posted on Amazon.com’s book reviews of Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice)
Because of my vocational background of leading groups in outdoor adventures—backpacking, river running, rock and mountain climbing, and organized youth camping—I was eager to read Christian Outdoor Leadership by Ashley Denton. Here is a book I wish I had when I began my career many years ago. Denton’s lifelong love of the outdoors, his years of experience in wilderness ministry (much of it in the Colorado Rockies), his vast knowledge of the Bible’s use of the outdoors, and his ability to articulate in writing the theology, theory, and practice of outdoor leadership, make this a valuable tool.
This book does not teach outdoor living skills such as fire building, packing a backpack, or food preparation. It is about how leaders use the wilderness experience to impact the lives of campers. Denton writes from a Christian perspective for biblically sensitive outdoor educators. However, I believe that even those who are nonreligious, such as those I observed during my experience at the Colorado Outward Bound leadership school, could greatly benefit from the many valid educational principles Denton sets forth.
In his preface, Denton builds a strong case for the importance of getting urban youth into the outdoor setting and, much as Jesus did with his disciples, using nature to teach them valuable life lessons. He shares solid theological, psychological, and educational grounds for why adventure-based learning helps young people.
Denton probably does not intend for this book to be carried in one’s backpack. He has skillfully organized many outdoor leadership principles into acronyms for easy transference by the reader to a trail pocket journal. For instance to make your outdoor teaching “stick” use the S+T+IC=K model. Combine Setting & Timing with Intentional Content to tie the Knot of learning.
Come to think about it, the book itself could be seen as a backpack full of ideas about how to conduct successful wilderness experiences. For example, there is enough nutritious trail food in this book to begin feeding the novice in outdoor leadership and satisfy the person who has years of leading outdoor experiences. As I first scanned the book, I picked up dozens of tasty tidbits, from how Bible characters like Moses, Jesus, and Peter were affected by wilderness living, to how I can utilize the A to Z teachable moment with campers.
As I studied Denton’s book more carefully, I found he believes that the Bible, like a compass, points to life-applicable truths experienced in outdoor living. He demonstrates that physical risk and challenge, like water, can quench some of the emotional thirsts of our young people. Carefully prepared and thoughtful leaders can bring young people to insights about themselves much as a headlamp lights the trail at night. The development of a caring, supportive small group in the scary mountains can be like a snuggly warm sleeping bag at night. And what leader doesn’t want to be trusted in the way a climber trusts the rope and her belayer when she shouts “climbing”?
Denton calls for a standard of excellence in the field and invites leaders in churches, organizations, and universities to cast a vision for more experiential approaches to ministry.
-GARY K. FAWVER, Professor of Outdoor Ministries Emeritus, George Fox University