Inside Out 57: Making the Great Outdoors Even Greater

03.04.11 | Kurt Goff

io-outdoors - Inside Out: Making the Great..."Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him." (Matthew 5:1)

A natural outdoor amphitheatre is packed as the voice of the creator of it all bounces off the swaying trees. A clear blue sky is accented with only a few small, wispy white clouds. Suddenly, a couple of birds do a fly-by.   

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:26-30)

A huge number of Jesus’ most teachable moments took place outside. Also dancing off the pages of the Gospels:

  • His battle with Satan in the wilderness
  • Calming frightening storms on the Sea of Galilee
  • Feeding thousands with the loaves and fishes in isolated, middle of nowhere kinds of places

On and on it goes. In the Old Testament there are just couple of notable examples from the life of David:

  • Tending his sheep in the wide open spaces
  • The years–long camp out as he flees from the murderous King Saul

I sure am glad he packed some writing supplies during these nature sojourns, otherwise the book of Psalms would be missing some of my favorites! Nope... outdoor ministry is nothing new, but it is getting some new traction for the 21st century.

Ashley Denton is the director of The Wilderness Ministry Institute and has written the book Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice. He’s been taking folks on wilderness adventures for many years and has seen God work in tremendous ways in the lives of countless people. You won’t find very many churches with specific outdoor ministry leaders, but Ashley wants to change that. Here’s his website.

Have you been thinking and praying about how God might use your love of the outdoors to impact the lives of others? Listen to my heart-to-heart with Ashley. Oh, and remember this: Every ministry adventure begins with the call of God and a step of faith.

Comments

Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 03.05.11 Russ Senti commented

Thank you Ashley for promoting summer camps in this interview. I am the Executive Director of a Bible Camp called Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center south of Rockford, IL. We serve 500 ELCA congregations in IL.

on 03.07.11 Mary Jo Wilcher commented

Good that you gave Ashley this opportunity to share his passion of outdoor ministries, and how much closer to God we feel when outdoors. An excellent, thoughtful interview. I look forward to reading his book

on 04.03.12 Matt Duke commented

Awesome interview! It is so good to see outdoor/wilderness ministry being talked about more!

I will never forget the first time a guy from our youth group took me and my friend for a simple overnight in the woods. I didn't sleep much but i will never forget the next morning and how God spoke to me through the beauty of His Creation!

on 04.03.12 Matt Duke commented

Awesome interview! It is so good to see outdoor/wilderness ministry being talked about more!

I will never forget the first time a guy from our youth group took me and my friend for a simple overnight in the woods. I didn't sleep much but i will never forget the next morning and how God spoke to me through the beauty of His Creation!

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