Virtually nothing on the landscape of Christian ministry is more powerful, or more effective in producing long-term, lasting, spiritual change, or bearing “fruit that remains” (John 15) like expertly-facilitated adventure ministry.
Adventure ministry is, by design, intensely personal, intensely introspective, and intensely focused. It’s incredibly communal, decidedly truth-focused, deeply experiential and incredibly challenging – just like the life of faith in Christ. Its deep parallels and inherent metaphors of the spiritual life are what so deeply empower it for life change. Through adventure, participants are immersed in experiences that make the concepts of Scripture come alive. Faith is never so tangible than when we’re gripped by adventure.
The reality is that life itself is a Journey of epic proportions. Each day we face decisions and experience situations that can have a deep impact on our lives and our futures. Adventure ministry and adventure challenges provide a parallel, a microcosm, a laboratory of sorts, in which to understand and process the dynamics of our spiritual lives and provides opportunities to grow as a person – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – in ways that most people never experience. The lessons learned through adventure experiences “stick”, and have a much higher chance of producing positive life change that is both significant and lasting, simply because they are intense and experiential.
Well-facilitated adventure experiences have a unique way of opening people’s hearts and minds to new ways of thinking and processing life’s challenges. That growth then opens the door for them to step beyond their normal comfort zones and experience expanded opportunities as they apply those new thinking processes to their daily lives. Adventure is a powerful tool that can speak deeply to the heart.
But beyond just the psychological dynamics of adventure experiences lies the real, bedrock-level reality of its spiritual import. If our lives are nothing else, they are living story lines of risk and reward, joy and pain, good and evil, glorious victory and agonizing defeat. Our small stories are, though we often forget the fact, all part of the truly epic story of God’s dealings with man.
From the days of creation, God has been telling a story – one He has invited us to participate in through an intimate, living relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. It’s an adventure and a journey that has it’s roots in eternity and its future in Glory. It’s a day-by-day process of participating with God in His work of transforming us into the image of Christ – for that is His ultimate goal. (Romans 8:29)
Adventure ministry provides pictures, analogies – what we call Spiritual Parallels- of that Journey that we are making if we are Christians. Adventure experiences, combined with focused processing, and reflective times of silence can help to clarify our purpose in life and better understand the process of following Christ in life’s Journey. God speaks in powerful ways through adventure experiences, simply because they so perfectly mirror life in the Spirit.