Outdoor ministry: much minsunderstood
I have a confession to make. I had been in church-based youth ministry for twenty years before I had any idea about the opportunities of outdoor ministry.
I, like many of my ministry colleagues, was aware of the school camps that were run by organisations like Crusaders, Teen Ranch and Youthworks. I knew these ministries had contact with thousands of school students each year.
But I didn't understand the two major benefits of outdoor ministry.
Firstly, outdoor ministry is of great benefit for the school students.
Apart from enjoying a great few days away from the classroom, students also get the opportunity to spend concentrated time with a youth or children's minister who is trained in outdoor recreation.
So, at the same time that they are challenged to trust the leadership of the outdoor minister and to trust the safety of the adventure equipment, they are also encouraged to trust in Jesus.
Not only do the outdoor ministers informally chat about what they believe during the activity sessions and during free-time, they also work together to present a formal 'Christian Discovery' session for an hour each morning. This really helps to 'prime the pump' for continued gossiping of the gospel throughout the day.
This is a remarkable mission opportunity that continues to provide connections for life with thousands of school kids.
But, this is not the only benefit of this ministry.
Secondly, outdoor ministry is of great benefit to the outdoor minister.
For many years, our Anglican church has been active in recruiting men and women to have paid, Word-ministry roles in our parishes.
Generally speaking, these roles have favoured people who would naturally favour a white-collar, indoor-based ministry.
Yet, for those who would otherwise prefer an occupation that was traditionally trained in our TAFE environment, and for those who enjoy being active and outdoors, the ministry opportunities were limited.
The great benefit of outdoor ministry is that it provides a pathway for men and women who love the outdoors and love being active.
Some outdoor ministers have even gone on to become Anglican rectors, having been originally recruited through the world of outdoor ministry.
The Youthworks MTS Outdoor Ministry Apprenticeship combines a Diploma of Theology with both a Certificate III and IV in Outdoor Recreation to provide everything an upcoming outdoor minister needs to be equipped to be active in sharing their faith.
Do you know anyone who loves Jesus, the outdoors, and youth ministry? Might that person be you? Don't bypass this opportunity to connect with thousands of kids in this Word ministry, whilst enjoying cutting-edge training in theology and outdoor recreation… whilst getting paid to train!
Jodie McNeill is the Executive Director of Youthworks Outdoors. Applications for the Youthworks MTS Outdoor Ministry Apprenticeship close this week.