People need time away from distractions so they can rest their soul and think clearly. Jesus invested in his disciples this way by retreating regularly with them in the outdoors. My earlier post, IF THE LEADERSHIP BUBBLE POPS? THIS GENERATION NEEDS OUTDOOR MINISTRY, explains some of the reasons why outdoor ministries will be more widely embraced in churches and mission organizations in the near future. This means more outdoor leadership jobs and volunteer opportunities on the horizon as well. I asserted that one of the next bubbles that might pop in this generation is the leadership bubble. Many forward thinking leaders are wondering, “Are we really developing and empowering the upcoming leaders successfully?” There are genuine concerns about the next generation of upcoming younger leaders.
In Chap Clark’s recent book, Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers he identifies some of the core attributes of our next generation. And in my book I show how his research points emphatically to the need for more outdoor adventure type ministries to capture the hearts of young people today. Clark’s findings encourage youth workers to focus on: 1) Developing nurturing environments for young people; 2) Providing stable and secure relationships where young people truly feel loved; and 3) Helping young people experience authentic and intimate relationships with loving adults.
This is exactly what Jesus did. And this is precisely why outdoor pursuits are so valuable for experiencing God and discovering what it means to belong to community. The New Testament shows Jesus journeying in the outdoors with the Twelve Disciples quite often. This was one of the main ways he taught them and developed them as leaders. Today, adventurous journeys in the outdoors also draw out the best in young people by confronting their fears and exposing the traps of entitlement they have been lured into. The wilderness helps sever the entanglements that strangle away God’s epoch vision for our lives.
ADVENTURE REMEDIES THE CRISIS OF BRAVERY
Taking these trends into consideration, we can see that there is a real need for more men and women to be trained in the heart and skills of Christian outdoor leadership, outdoor ministry, and faith-based adventure therapy. 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 look at who they are:
Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering. – Saint Augustine
Adventure remedies the crisis of bravery every time. That is why we need more adventure junkies to turn away from adventure for adventure’s sake, and humbly tether themselves to their local churches for the sake of serving the Body of Christ. If you have a desire to start an outdoor ministry in your church, or to use outdoor adventure to enhance the various ministries in your church or mission organization, then please keep reading my blog and offering your comments as much as possible. We are in this together.
VOLUNTEER VS. VOCATIONAL OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP JOBS
As I see outdoor adventure ministries popping up in churches and mission organizations, there are two basic paths one could take. The largest most accessible, and I would argue most important path, is for those thousands of people out there who want to VOLUNTEER their time to bless people in their communities with guided outdoor adventures. The second, much smaller path, is for those who feel called to equip themselves in the skills of Christian outdoor leadership to pursue outdoor ministry or outdoor leadership as a VOCATION.
In my next post we will look more closely at both volunteer and vocational opportunities in Christian outdoor leadership. In the mean time I would like offer a few other posts for your consideration. If you have a gnawing desire to do more in your church or mission organization to get people out into God’s creation then stay tuned for my next post in this series. If you want to see more people in your circle of influence encounter Christ through experiential learning, adventure, and intentional outdoor pursuits, then here are a few other posts to think about: