Ministry today looks much different than it did 2000 years ago, but the message is the same. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save us from eternal separation. My pastor once said, “The Gospel is kind of like a can of soda. If you look at the style and design of a soda can from 20 years ago you would see a lot of differences, but the contents are still the same.” It is the same with the ways we do ministry. Our methods change and evolve with the times.
Outdoor adventure ministries are one of the new opportunities we can use to bring people to Jesus, make disciples, and to give people a chance to get away from the busyness of life and connect with their Creator. We need this! Take a look at Jesus; there were many times when He “slipped away” to the wilderness or garden to spend time listening to His Father. Shouldn’t we do the same?
RISK, UNCERTAINTY, AND UNFAMILIARITY LEAD TO GROWTH, CHANGE, AND RENEWAL
When a person is taken away from their daily routine and put into a challenging situation we often see an abundance of growth. Kids taken from their monotonous school routines often find relief and opportunities to grow when exposed to the great outdoors. When people are exposed to beauty of God’s creation for the first time (seeing it with their own eyes, not through a computer screen or on TV) they are filled with a new sense of accomplishment and purpose. We are able to see beyond our own troubles and insecurities when we stop to watch a sunrise on the mountains with the beautiful alpine glow for those few short minutes.
Several years ago, I helped take a group of eight teenagers on a five day backpacking trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On the third night, we moved each participant at least 100 yards away from the main camp and gave everyone a good 15 hours to just be alone. Right before they went to sleep, we went down to check in on everyone. Westley was laying on a nice flat rock just staring into the huge emptiness of space that filled the sky. We were up at an elevation of about 8,000 feet and the sky was crystal clear. As I sat down next to him, he continued staring up at the star-filled sky and he asked me “Is there really a God out there that loves us?” I smiled and took a breath. The Holy Spirit had just tossed up a beach ball for me, and gave me a chance to hit it out of the park. So I swung and shared the Gospel with him. That night was a eye-opening moment for Westley. The beauty of God’s creation had opened a door in his heart.
Those are the moments that we strive for. Opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives and hearts of others. Sometimes in these moments something clicks in a person’s heart and they accept Jesus for the first time, they have a revelation how much God truly loves them. Or maybe in that moment of quietness they truly understand that they can overcome their addictions to drugs, cutting, pornography, anger, insecurity… Oftentimes risk, uncertainty, and unfamiliarity lead to growth, change, and renewal. For many people the outdoors are a risky, uncertain, and unfamiliar place. That is why we take people into God’s creation. That is why we keep doing what we do.