I’ve been working with churches and denominations for almost 15 years now in outdoor ministry strategies to help churches and leaders reach hunters. Outdoor ministry can be some of the most rewarding work you’ll ever encounter, and it can be equally as frustrating.
Yes, I’ve had many men reach out to me at live events where I’m speaking, through an email, or a phone call, and tell me that they are crushed because God has called them to engage the journey of ministry within their church by reaching hunters, but that they are meeting heavy resistance from membership, and sometimes leadership, with their new found passion for outdoor ministry. I can safely say that it doesn’t happen often, but I cannot truthfully say it never happens.
The real issue comes down to how you can respond. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.
Remember: Your Call Is Not Dependent Upon Anyone.
In the end, it doesn’t matter one tiny bit if anyone supports you. You must be faithful. However, I can promise you, life is much more easy, and certainly more fun, when you have support from those around you. You need people, and you don’t want to live the life of an isolationist prophet. I’ve seen guys do that, and they almost always take on a martyr complex. Be sure you are called to this thing, and if you are, move forward.
Outdoor Ministry Starts With Your Pastor.
Over 90% of the pastors I meet do not hunt. That’s why I wrote the free eBook Being A Pastor To A Hunter because it helps pastors get inside the head of guys that shoot stuff and end up wanting to reach other guys that shoot stuff, too.
Many pastors see hunting as a hobby, and that’s why they don’t understand your calling. Hunting is about as much of a “hobby” to you as technology was to Steve Jobs. Can you imagine telling Steve Jobs that technology is just a hobby? Huning is a way of life, and God is turning that way of life, that worldview, into a calling.
Your pastor may not hunt, however, but you desperately need his wisdom for navigating life within the steeple, and you need his spiritual leadership on every level. Bottom line: stay close to your pastor and keep him in the loop.
Leave Naïve Behind You.
I know it sounds completely immature in the ways of humanity, but when I left being a pastor to reach hunters and pursue outdoor ministry, I truly believed that every other Christian would be as happy for my calling as I was. Wow, was I disappointed. The truth is, I was naïve about a calling in general, because I cannot expect someone to be passionate about outdoor ministry.
You’re not going to get financial support in most cases, especially early on in the journey. That’s ok, there’s ways around that, and you can do a lot with a little. I see guys do it all the time.
It takes nothing but sweat equity to get men to bring their Block target and set up for a bow shoot. All you need to do is find the location and invite guys to come shoot. Grilling a bunch of deer meet is a great way to clean out the freezer and it costs you very little to do it. There are ways to launch ministry on a budget.
Never forget that people are not passionate about all causes. Passion cannot be adopted, it must be organic.
Give grace to people that don’t get it.
Don’t stop your momentum, just realize that few people understand the burden you have, and that doesn’t make them out of touch with God. It just means that you aren’t going to spend your time trying to convince everyone within your church that this ministry matters.
You don’t need affirmation from everyone to fulfill your call from God.
When All Else Fails Move Forward
Every now and then I see a guy who is called from God, but he gets zero support from his pastor and zero support from his church.
If that’s you do this first: seek wisdom about what it means to be called from God. If the men around you, righteous men who speak truth no matter what, come alongside you and testify that your call is clear, then move forward.
You may have to reach men in your community with a para-church effort until it gains momentum. If that’s what you have to do, then be faithful.
However, I can tell you, in most cases, your pastor is going to support you. Check yourself for unrealistic demands that you may be placing on either your pastor or your church. Sometimes people are slow to warm up to an idea, but that doesn’t mean they will never get there.
If your calling is real, then God is going to use you to change lives. When changed lives start popping up and men who never came to church start showing up, it won’t take long for people to validate what you’re doing.
Jason Cruise is a published author and speaker. He's the host of Spring Chronicles on Sportsman Channel.