Witness to an Adventure


Michael had it written all over his face. He was done. Ninety minutes into our four-day hike, he was whipped. Michael was not really an athletic kid, a tad overweight and sweating profusely. He was wearing blue jeans and seemingly unprepared to climb a mountain. As an at-risk high schooler on our 12-day adventure called Leadership Pursuits, Michael already had accomplished way more than he probably dreamt he could. He’d gone whitewater rafting and kayaking. He belayed off a rock face, ridden horses, built a campground, and now was on a four-day ascent to the summit of Mt. Adams, a 12,280-foot volcano in Southwest Washington, adjacent to the infamous Mt. St. Helens; and he was ready to quit.

Greg Johnson, the trip leader and our most seasoned mountaineer in Youth Dynamics Adventures, pulled the group of 12 into the shade of some old-growth cedars for a short break and went over to Michael to assess the situation. Michael plopped his 60-pound pack onto the ground and collapsed in a heap onto a log. After we had rested for 10 or 15 minutes, we needed to get back on the trail, but we had a decision to make. Should we continue on with Michael or without him? It was to be a four-day hike to the summit and back. We really only had two options: Either we could pull one of our leaders off the trail, and he and Michael could sit in the parking lot and wait four days for us to return, or we could try as a team to get Michael through the next several days. We let the team decide. They rallied. The team wanted to help Michael complete the journey to the summit and back.

Greg immediately began to rummage through Michael’s pack. He discovered a family-size Bible, some blue jeans, some other heavy items he wouldn’t need, and promptly buried them. (We retrieved them on the way back.) Other members of the group volunteered to take some of his other gear so Michael’s pack would be lighter. Would it be enough? Would he last the day? Would he last four days? Only time would tell.

Our little caravan started back on the trail with me in the lead, followed by six high school boys, with three leaders interspersed, and Greg planted directly behind Michael bringing up the rear. What followed was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. From one pit stop to the next, Greg was right there with Michael chirping in his ear. “You can do this. It’s just around this next bend.” Or, “Let’s make it to that big tree. Just 10 more minutes, then we can rest.” Sometimes Greg would encourage Michael; other times he was stern with him, prodding him forward. Step by step, Michael walked up that mountain. We hiked through the trees in the morning; beautiful forests of pine, cedar, Douglas fir and blue spruce. We emerged through the tree line just after lunch. We were encouraged, spirits were high. Then we encountered a section of the mountain that might as well be Mordor. Straight out of Lord of the Rings, it is a large field of lava rock, and it is brutal. Michael persevered and made it to our campsite above the lava rock at the base of mountain’s face. We spent the night at the snow line with our tents pitched mostly on rocks.

We took most of the evening and the entire next day with lessons about life and leadership and how God fits into the whole picture. We also spent a significant amount of time in snow school, learning how to climb safely in the snow with boots and crampons, how to properly use our ice axes, and most importantly how to stop ourselves if we fell, while not stabbing ourselves with our axes in the process!

The morning of the third day, we awoke early for a mountain ascent, leaving at 2 a.m. so we could summit and climb back down before the snow got soft and dangerous in the afternoon sun. We set out with our headlamps in the dark of the early morning, climbing in a line, one after the other, in a zig-zag pattern up the steep face of Mt. Adams. The face itself is about 1,500 feet of vertical, and it feels as if it’s straight up. Each step was taken carefully, with our ice axes in our uphill hands, planting them firmly in the snow, then scraping out a level foothold before taking our next step—then repeating the process. After three or four hours of climbing, we reached the top of the face, exhausted, coming to grips with the reality that we had only reached a false summit. False because if we hadn’t known better, we would have thought it was the summit while we were climbing only to reach the top and realize the summit was still beyond us, and we couldn’t see it from where we were climbing. While we waited for Michael and Greg to join us, we enjoyed a snack and took in the expansive view of the mountains below us as the sun had risen during our ascent. After a good rest, the team was eager to take on the final push. We set out on a free for all, traversing horizontally across a ½-mile flat field of snow and reconvened at the base for a final ascent of the last couple hundred feet of vertical. The team decided to wait and let Michael lead the team up from here. As we made the final push, here was Michael, the kid I thought was going to quit an hour into our hike, leading the team to the top. As he reached the summit first, a wide smile came across his face as he jumped up and down and shouted at the top of his lungs. It was in all aspects a pinnacle moment in his life. He had accomplished something well beyond what he believed he could do, something no one ever would be able to take away from him, and learned some things about himself that no doubt will stay with him for the rest of his life.

I have witnessed moments such as this again and again with teenagers while climbing mountains, whitewater rafting or rock climbing. The medium really doesn’t matter as long as the elements are the same. Take someone outside his or her comfort zone, include challenge and some risk, create an environment where he or she must exercise faith and dig down inside him or herself to accomplish something that previously seemed impossible, while a team of people surround and support the person. It’s an amazing thing to watch.


Originally Published in YouthWorker Journal, March/April 2016


Will you toke up now? Retail Pot stores open today in Washington State


Today is the day that many have been waiting for. Pot is now legal and available in Washington State. Two stores opened this morning in my city of Bellingham. (6 more have been granted licenses for my town of 80,000 residents, and a total of 300 will eventually pepper the entire State. The laws in Washington governing pot are similar to alcohol’s open container laws. You can’t smoke in public, on the sidewalk or in your car, however you can light up on your property in plain view of the rest of the world. You can carry up to 1 ounce and anyone over 21 from any state can purchase pot from a retail store here, but once you transport it into another state obviously you are bound by the pot laws of that state. Be prepared to pay more for your pot though, and maybe a lot more. Cost will likely be several times higher that what it costs on the street currently. According to the Price of Weed.com, high quality pot is an average of $232 per ounce in Washington. Some retail pot stores in WA will be charging $25/gram or $700 per ounce (28 grams/ounce)!! If you’re under 21 you’re not supposed to be able to even go into a store or purchase pot or smoke it, and hopefully that will be enforced.

As a guy who’s spent his entire life working with teenagers I’m more than curious how this will impact our teens. It’s not like teens have had any lack of access to pot before it was legalized today, and that black market pot will certainly continue to be available and still be lots cheaper too.

What will be harder to judge will be the long term impact of legalizing this drug on society, and how it’s acceptance will change our culture. As a Christ follower it will be interesting to see how the Church and Christian attitudes will morph and change towards pot as well.

A few in the church already feel it’s God’s plant and He created it for our use. Other’s feel it’s okay to use, but only to relieve chronic or terminal pain. In general, most Christians today are against pot and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. But over time, a new generation will rise up, one that’s only known it as legal, and my guess is that the Church’s attitude towards pot will eventually mirror it’s attitude towards alcohol; outwardly discouraged by the devout, but used by many in the privacy of their own homes. An “everything in moderation” attitude will settle in.

What no one can predict is how this will trickle down into the fabric of our society, and the butterfly effect that will take place. As a lifetime youthworker, I’ll be watching it closely from the inside and praying that it doesn’t fall into the hands of more teenagers, doesn’t create more addicts, and doesn’t dumb down our society any further. God knows we can’t afford that, no matter how much tax revenue it generates.

Youth Dynamics Infographic

Youth Dynamics Infographic

Here is a brand new infographic with some very interesting stats about teens. Did anything surprise you? Help YD with their scholarship campaign to get 2500 teens in need on adventures this summer.

Pregnant for 2 yrs? You gotta be kidding me.

A few years ago I had a kid from one of my old youth groups track me down through social media. “Hey Mark, this is James, can I buy you a cup of coffee?” I remembered James well. His single mom had drug him to youth group and church every week when he was a teenager. He had a tear drop tattoo near his eye, and fashioned himself as a tough kid. He went with me to Mexico on a missions trip once. He played bass in our little band. I remember the day he brought a huge bag of weed down to the church during lunch because the school was doing locker searches next door. I helped him get rid of it. And no, we didn’t smoke it. 🙂 I hadn’t seen or heard from James for a dozen years. “Sure I’ll let you buy me a cup,” I told him. So, the very next morning he drove 5 hours so that he could talk with me. As we sat down, He began to share his story, “I was a punk a** kid in High School. I only came to youth group because I had to. I’ve been in and out of jail for the last 12 years. I have 3 kids from 2 ladies. I was addicted to drugs. But I want you to know that I’m clean now. I’m in AA. I’m playing on the worship team for 2 churches. And I love Jesus. I felt like I needed to track you down and tell you thanks. Thanks for loving on me when I was a punk, and didn’t want to hear it. Thanks for not giving up on me.”

We talked for a while more, and when we were finished, I gave him a big hug and he drove the 5 hrs home. I haven’t seen him since.

One of the blessings of being in Youth Ministry for over 25 yrs is that stuff like this happens to me every now and again. The problem is it doesn’t happen until years after the fact. Its easy as a youth worker to get frustrated because you don’t see the results you were hoping to see. You wanted to change the world, but nothing seems to change except you. You’re tired and disillusioned, and for good reason, it’s a tough job. The average youth worker only stays 3.9 yrs in this carreer field. And it’s too bad, because the chances are you’re doing a fantastic job, but you won’t know it for years. Galatians 6:9 comes to mind, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)

The gestation period for a rabbit is 31 days, for a cat it’s 63 days. Horses are 330 days, and elephants are an unbelievable 616 days. Can you imagine being pregnant for almost 2 years before finally giving birth?

The gestation period of faith in teenagers is unpredictable and varies from kid to kid. Don’t give up. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean God isn’t doing something in their life.
Their faith may be germinating somewhere there under the surface.

Who’s chasing whom?

A professor friend recommended a book to me the other day. It’s over 30 yrs old and I have no idea how I missed it. It’s called “Christianity Rediscovered” by Vincent J. Donovan. He was the first missionary to introduce Jesus to The Masai tribe in Tanzania. He found he had to strip the Gospel down to it’s bare essentials. He discovered that much of what most missionaries were peddling was not really the Gospel, but something else. Just what is the Gospel? What would you communicate to a culture that did not know of Jesus, Father God or the Church? I think this discussion is very relevant to the post Christian culture we now find ourselves in in the United States. I believe the tribes of teenagers that we are called to in the Northwest are perhaps nearly as ignorant of the real Jesus as the Masai were when Donovan encountered them.

Here’s a cool story from the book I thought I’d pass along to you.

“Months later when all this had passed, I was sitting talking with a Masai elder about the agony of belief and unbelief. He used two languages to respond to me – his own and Kiswahili. He pointed out that the word my Masai catechist, Paul, and I had used to covey faith was not a very satisfactory word in their language. It meant literally “to agree to.” I, myself, knew the word had that shortcoming. He said “to believe” like that was similar to a white hunter shooting an animal with his gun from a great distance. Only his eyes and his fingers took part in the act. We should find another word. He said for a man really to believe is like a lion going after its prey. His nose and eyes and ears pick up the prey. His legs give him the speed to catch it. All the power of his body is involved in the terrible death leap and single blow to the neck with the front paw, the blow that actually kills. And as the animal goes down the lion envelops it in his arms (Africans refer to the front legs of an animal as its arms), pulls it to himself, and makes it part of himself. This is the way a lion kills. This is the way a man believes. This is what faith is.
I looked at the elder in silence and amazement. Faith understood like that would explain why, when my own was gone, I ached in every fiber of my being. But my wise old teacher was not finished yet.
“We did not search you out, Padri,” he said to me. “We did not even want you to come to us. You searched us out. You followed us away from your house into the bush, into the plains, into the steppes where our cattle are, into the hills where we take our cattle for water, into our villages, into our homes. You told us of the High God, how we must search for him, even leave our land and our people to find him. But we have not done this. We have not left our land. We have not searched for him.  He has searched for us. He has searched us out and found us. All the time we think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God.”

Of course he is the Lion. It’s so easy for me to think this evangelism thing is all on me… I forget that “the Hound of Heaven” is also pursuing us with a vengeance.

To the mom of the toddler who won’t stop crying on the plane…

I know it seems unbearable right now, with your toddler crying and you feeling like everyone is upset and frustrated with you and your kid. But that’s not what I’m feeling. I’m not mad at you at all. In fact, I’m sad. Not sad for you, sad for me. Your crying little boy reminds me of my own and the fact that my kids are almost grown. Believe it or not I’m actually a little envious.

I have so loved being a parent. I can’t believe this chapter of life is nearing its end. Our youngest son is graduating this year. It’s gone by so unbelievably fast. Like a paperback read far too quickly, I can sense the end of the story is near, as the number of pages remaining are far too thin in my hand. And I’m sad. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I started this book? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was hurling throw pillows at my boys as they ran across the living room squealing with joy? How can it be that my little man will never again jump off the top of the couch onto my back while I’ve got his brother pinned to the ground?” I remember wondering each time I tossed him up on my shoulders as he grew bigger and bigger, “Is this the last time I get to give one of my kids a piggy back ride? Somewhere along the line that last one finally did happen, and somehow I can’t remember it no matter how hard I try.  How is it possible that I’ll never have to threaten to pull the car over, or tell the boys to go to their room? When was the last time I made them apologize like they meant it? “Say it again.” “Say it again.” “Say it again!” “Now hug.”

How I loved reading a chapter of Narnia each night until they drifted off to sleep. How great was it to lay next to them in bed in the pitch dark and answer random questions that suddenly felt safe to ask? How wonderful to try to explain how big God is and how great His love for them.

There’s plenty I wish I had done differently. I wish I hadn’t been a workaholic for a few of those years. I wish I’d had family devotions more often. I wish I’d taken them to see their grandparents more. There were so many times I had no idea what to do, and it’s scary to think how much we actually winged this parenting thing. But I refuse to beat myself up for mistakes made, for opportunities lost. We did the best we could, with what we knew to do at the time. And somehow, the kids turned out okay. Even the teenage years were way better than advertised. It hasn’t been anywhere near the nightmare that others warned us about. In fact, it’s been exactly the opposite.  We’ve loved parenting; every chapter, every page of their childhood.

Now, I know that parenting doesn’t stop when the kids leave home. And I know there will likely be grandchildren in our house someday, with toys on the floor and smudges on the windows. And I suspect we will always have teenagers in our lives and in our home.  But let me grieve the ending of this story, just for a moment.  What a fantastic book.  And I can’t wait for the sequel.

And mom of the crying toddler? I hope you enjoy your story just as much as I did. Because it won’t be long till you’re sitting in my seat.


Surviving Your Calling

Don't try this at home.  Seriously.

I nearly killed a kid with a water balloon once. Seriously. It was the summer after I graduated from Bible College. I had just been hired as a youth pastor at a small church and our first event together was our denomination’s summer camp. I had constructed a homemade water balloon launcher in about 10 minutes with tubing and a funnel from our local hardware store. A couple youth pastors and I were on the ski dock harmlessly lobbing water balloons onto the field about 100 yards away; soaking kids from what we thought was a safe distance. It was great fun, lazily lobbing water balloons at students from so far away. Most students had no idea where the balloons were coming from, some probably wondered if God himself was throwing them. Everything was going great when suddenly, 3 students came running around the cafeteria with another water balloon launcher. They set up on the beach about 20 yds away and began their assault on our position. While we had been lobbing balloons with a high arch so as not to hurt anyone; these students launched their balloons straight at us like heat-seeking missiles. You seriously had 1 second to predict where it was going and make your move.  Their first couple shots sailed past at enormous velocity. We froze; mouths gaping. We yelled, trying to get them to stop. The third balloon hit my friend John in the shin. A purple bruise formed immediately. We yelled frantically for them to quit but there was no stopping them; the students knew they had the upper hand. Their next offering grazed John’s neck; another purple bruise. In retrospect we should have just dove into the water, but honestly that thought never crossed my mind. Instead, we decided to fire back to protect ourselves, and hopefully put an end to the assault. It takes three people to launch a water balloon launcher; and I was the shooter. I took aim at the kid in the middle and let one fly. The teen was half bent over loading another balloon into the funnel when my balloon caught him in the chest. It literally picked him up off the ground and dropped him like a rock.  He wasn’t moving.  Immediately we dove into the water and swam to the beach. We rolled him over onto his back and watched as a giant purple bruise formed across his collarbone.  He was moaning and spitting up blood; we were terrified. My mind raced as people ran to get the nurse. This was bad. This was going to be it. Called into ministry at 15, four years of Bible College, resumes, interviews, finally landing my first youth ministry job; and in one GIANT lapse of judgment, my youth ministry career was going to be finished before it even got started. That was over 25 years ago. I’ve done about everything there is to do in youth ministry since then. And I seriously dodged a bullet that day. The kid was fine; he didn’t even go to the hospital; he just had a MONSTER-bruise and a great story.

The other day I started to list all the people I’ve known personally who’ve left youth ministry over the years. After about 5 minutes I had to quit. It was depressing. Almost everyone I started with was gone, and very few of them left the ministry for good reasons. Some had lost their families, sadly others had even lost their faith. How does this happen? Why is it that I’ve survived all this time? Why do some make it and others don’t? Moral failures, financial indiscretions, marriage problems, issues with pastors, deacon boards, parents; the list is endless. The youth ministry landscape is peppered with land mines. Most rookies enter the game bright-eyed and innocent, with a pure heart and wild dreams of changing the world only to leave after a couple of years; wounded, bitter and disillusioned.  Is this our destiny?  Is this our lot?  To survive the ministry game as long as possible, but eventually succumb to the siren song of selling automobiles or real estate?  Is this the way it’s supposed to be? As a survivor of several youth ministry campaigns, is there something I can share with the next generation of youth ministry plebes to keep them from washing out? As veterans, can we help young youth workers survive their calling? I’m not sure I have a lot of answers, but I feel like I’m finally asking the right questions.

I’ve never been the most talented guy on the field. I grew up short and small. I was 5 ft tall and 90 lbs as I started 9th grade. You could beat me at a lot of levels; but you weren’t going to outwork me. I got a trophy for being the hardest hitter on my football team in Jr. High. I was small, but I was determined and would not quit once I started something. If it was worth doing, it was worth doing well. This quality has both helped me and hurt me over my youth ministry years. Early on, even though I had a youth ministry degree, I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So to avoid the impending criticism I determined to simply work harder than anyone ever expected. Then the critics would at least have to say, “he’s not very good at this, but he sure is trying hard!”  I became the guy you could always count on. And while there were better speakers, and more charismatic leaders; no one tried harder. When times got tough, I wouldn’t run.  At one church we served at, every staff member resigned except for me.  I was the one who would always stick it out. I didn’t clock hours; I stayed till the job was done. The problem with youth ministry is that the job is never finished. It consumes everything you give it, and continually asks for more. It’s like that monster plant from the Little Shop of Horrors… “Feed me Seymour!” It’s appetite is insatiable. For the first decade of youth ministry I was perpetually late for dinner; always trying to squeeze in one more phone call before I had to go home. My wife suffered almost daily because of my lack of balance. One September, after three consecutive 90 hr work weeks; running separate nights for Jr. High and High School; speaking 4x a week; with no administrative help and the prospect of starting another church site where I would also be responsible for the youth ministry there as well… I hit the wall. It took me almost losing everything to regain balance in my life. It was right in the middle of this course correction when my 6 yr old son got hit by a car riding his bike out in front of our house; he wore a body cast for months from his armpits to his ankles. My priorities got readjusted really quickly after that. I started coming home more for dinner. I started keeping a personal Sabbath. I began to reconnect with some old friends. I started to let the music of life breathe again. I had to relearn how to enjoy the pauses between the measures instead of playing life like a Jr. High Band on crack.  I learned to delegate better. I tried to work smarter not harder. But some things just flat out didn’t get done. And I learned to be okay with that, because it was change or die. I chose to morph. I chose my family over my calling. I chose health over burnout. I chose my future over my present. And miraculously the world didn’t collapse. As I coach youth workers today, one of the most common problems I see is this issue; lack of balance. We get the job done, but at what cost? If we burn out, they will replace us with another young hungry kid with a youth pastor haircut and a manbag. Certainly there are busy seasons in youth ministry. They’re unavoidable. It’s when those seasons butt up against each other that you have to start asking yourself some tough questions. Questions like “Is it the job that’s causing all this stress and conflict or is it me?” “Would my schedule be like this no matter what job I had?” This is one of the top three issues I see with youth pastors I’m working with.  I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to coach a youth worker who is running “mach ten with their hair on fire” and watch their life go from chaos to order; to watch their marriage go from the brink of disaster to healthy again; and to watch their spiritual life go from dying to thriving. And usually their youth ministry grows in the process; because healthy things grow.

The evil step-sister of lack of balance is lack of boundaries. And as if this wasn’t hard enough on youth workers before technology burst onto the scene, it’s almost impossible today.  If you have boundary issues at all today, it’s likely you have a BIG problem with it.  It used to just be the telephone that rang during dinner, but these days, it’s text messaging, smartphones, Facebook, Twitter… ad nauseum.… Now there are countless ways to push the boundary envelope.  Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, and I personally spend tons of time in the digital world, but if not for your sake, for the sake of those who love you… learn to set some boundaries! Early on in our family, especially when the kids were little, we learned to let the phone ring when we were home and to be okay with it. If we were watching a DVD or eating together we would let it go to voicemail. Obviously, if it was an emergency we would pick up. But most of the times it was stuff that could wait. People expect us to be available immediately today, but you are not doing yourself any favors by training your students to have that kind of access to you. It’s subtle, but it will come back to bite you; and in the end you undermine your student’s faith. You cannot be on call 24/7; only Jesus is… and there’s only one Savior. Who are you training your students to turn to when they are in need? You or Jesus?  What happens when they grow up and move away? I know, with the digital world today, they never really move away. Everyone is only a mouse-click away; for the rest of your life! You think you have a problem now, better teach those students to grow up in their faith or you will have years of dysfunction to pastor until the day you die!

So, if I could boil down 27 years of youth ministry experience into a couple things that would really make a difference in a young youth workers life; it would be to maintain good balance in your life; set firm boundaries, and most importantly, get a mentor.

We read in 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul is talking to his padawan learner Timothy about how to pass along his faith… “take the things you have heard me say in front of many witnesses and pass the along to other faithful guys who can do it again.” Rinse, Wash, Repeat. This is discipleship. It seems like a bunch of the great men of God have had good mentors. Not all did, but many had them. Joshua had Moses, Elisha had Elijah, Timothy had Paul. I was sitting in a boat with one of my mentors fishing in October and I asked him the chicken or egg question. Do you think we are still in youth ministry because we had someone (or multiple people) who mentored us? Or did we seek out mentors because we wanted to be in youth ministry for the long haul?  Whatever the case, the end result from the guys I coach with is that each one of us credits our mentors with helping us stay in the game.   And while Jesus mentors me from heaven, and Erwin McManus mentors me from his books… there is something incarnate about having a person in the flesh to walk this youth ministry journey with. I remember several times over the years where I was coached through a situation that could have knocked me out of the game for good, but because I had solid relationships with some veterans, they helped me turn roadblocks into speed bumps on multiple occasions.

Sometimes I wonder how many ex-youth pastors there are in the world today. I’ll bet it’s in the hundreds of thousands. Guys and gals who started out with great attitudes and a servant’s heart; who like John the Baptist, got it handed to them on a plate after a short time in prison.

I survived because someone invested in me. Actually multiple guys have invested in me, Mike, Monty and now Bo. All three are still in ministry, two are still doing youth. Now, I’m trying to give back; and be the difference for as many youth workers as I can, and I call on all veteran youth workers to do the same. Like that old illustration about the hundreds of starfish on the beach; you can’t save them all; but you can make a difference for that one.


Originally published in Take 5 in 2008 for National Network of Youth Ministers – revised May 2012

You’ve never seen stars like this! Yosemite’s night sky in timelapse.

I think I just added something else to my bucket list. I discovered this clip on another blog today. It’s unbelievably amazing just to watch this on your pc, let alone to experience this in person at Yosemite, I imagine. To quote my Pinterest friends: “I’m so doing this.” Isn’t it almost tragic how much time we spend indside these days? Kids are being raised almost exclusively indoors. And I get it, we need to keep our children safe. But wow, what we’re missing. Newsweek’s Tony Dokoupil’s recent article “Is the Internet Making us Crazy?” looks at some of the current trends and poses some great questions. I just discovered a new book called “Your Brain on Nature.” A scientific look at nature’s impact on our brains. I suspect that as I read it this week I”ll find what many of us in Youth Dynamics and YD Adventures know anecdotally, that nature is the antidote to tech. Obviously, I’m more than just a fan of tech, seriously, I know this. But getting outside helps keep my life in balance. It de-stresses and unwinds me where tech tends to add stress and winds me up. We’re finding this in our working with teenagers as well. We haven’t done any hard studies yet, but many of the 5,000 teenagers we work with each year have not been outside much at all. My staff know that being out in God’s creation gives you a fantastic platform to discuss the deeper issues of life. People relax when they are surrounded by nature. It’s significantly easier to believe in a Creator God when you’re watching a sunset, or looking up at the stars, or sitting on top of a mountain. In fact, I have a friend who as a teenager, was a complete atheist, who did not believe God could exist, until he experienced Him during a thunderstorm high up on a mountain while on an adventure trip. He is now a Christ-follower and is interning with us. We’ve been doing Adventure ministry for over 30 years here in the Northwest, and I feel like what we’re doing is more relevant, more necessary than ever. How many significant conversations have you had around a campfire late at night?If you’re a parent or a youth worker, do you kids a favor and get them outside!

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