3 Ways Time Outdoors Helps Your Decision Making Process

Outdoor wilderness experience help you develop critical thinking and a good decision making process. Outdoor adventures are such a great training ground for leaders because they give you a keener ability to discern the will of God through solitude with him in the pristine beauty of his Creation which is absent of everyday distractions. RELATED: […]

Denver Seminary OL 602 Adventure Ministry in Cross-Cultural Contexts

Course Reading Annotated Bibliography

Instructor:  Dr. S. Ashley Denton

Links in RED are required. Annotations credited to former students: Wes M. (WM), Karen J. (KJ)


Required Course Texts

Corbett, S., and B Fikkert. (2009). When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself. Chicago: Moody.

Corbett and Fikkert offer a challenging assessment of typical short-term mission trips, contending that they often do more harm than good. They propose a systems-based approach to understanding and addressing poverty, one that requires Christians to look at the big picture. They give foundational concepts to help without hurting, general principles to follow in order to help without hurting, and some practical strategies to help without hurting. -WM

Denton, Ashley (2011). Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice. Fort Collins. Smooth Stone Publishing.

Dr. Denton makes what amounts to the first serious contribution to the world of Christian outdoor leadership; his writing is timely, as the subject matter has been growing in practice over the last ten to fifteen years. Denton examines the theology behind Christian outdoor leadership, arguing that it is a teaching and discipleship method thoroughly modeled by Jesus Christ. He continues with helpful sections on theory and practice, presenting a work that is deep intellectually and full of practical insight necessary to actually go and do something with the theology and theory presented. -WM

Denton, Ashley. Wilderness And Missions: A Theology For Developing And Sustaining Young Leaders In Mission (Doctoral Dissertation by Ashley Denton, 2007, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary) Recommended reading (pp. 232-275)

Throughout history, God has used the wilderness as a special setting for transformation. Yet today in our increasingly urbanized world,  people are less able to experience the wilderness. People today are unsure how to engage a world of poverty, religions, violence, and clashing civilizations. Thus, young leaders especially need reflective dialogue toward a theology of apprenticeship for missions. This study provides a theological framework to understand why the wilderness has been a common setting for developing dynamic mission leaders.

Lingenfelter, J.E. and S.G. Lingenfelter. (2003). Teaching Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Learning and Teaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Lingenfelter and Lingenfelter provide a helpful contribution to the arena of teaching cross-culturally in their work. Perhaps most beneficial is the chapter on the “hidden curriculum,” or the unique cultural agenda for learning encountered when one teaches cross-culturally. Drawing from their own rich experience and training, the authors delve into learning strategies and styles, teaching for change, and adjusting to false expectations. -WM

Stori, C. (1999). Figuring Foreigners Out: A Practical Guide. Boston: Intercultural.

In Figuring Foreigners Out, Stori provides a workbook full of exercises that help the reader understand cultural bias, perceptions, and background. It is designed to be an intentional step into unearthing the often hidden cultural agendas most people entertain, agendas which can become painfully obvious when connecting with people from other cultures. The workbook seeks to unearth both the invisible and the visible dimensions of culture. -WM


Bonk, J. (2003). Missions and Money: Affluence as a Western Mission Problem. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Bonk pens an incredibly challenging assessment of the missionary movement supported by much of the American church. He contends that the affluence level most missionaries enjoy when they are “on the field” is at best a stumbling block to their mission, at worst a poison that distorts the Gospel. He challenges the entitlement most missionaries feel to maintain their American lifestyle while overseas. -WM

Johnson, C.N. (2010). Business as Mission: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.

Johnson proposes that the most effective cross-cultural missionaries are those who are engaged in both legitimate, profitable business and legitimate, beneficial mission work. He contends that providing economic stimulus through legal businesses is the best way to get into closed countries, and argues that through Business as Mission the laity will be mobilized in important and beneficial ways. -WM


Dr. Denton with multi-national group of students near Cotopaxi, Ecuador.


Required and Recommended Readings

Religious World Views

Swartley, Keith E. (2008). Encountering the World of Islam. Colorado Springs: Authentic Media. pp. 176-188, 326-328, 377-380, 394. (Recommended)

This article provides a look at the inner-workings of Muslim life in several different countries, examining the differences and similarities. A striking commitment to family and community is apparent, with little to no value given to the rugged individualism that is prized in American culture. The cultures described in each country are honor and shame based cultures. -WM

Woodberry, J. Dudley. (1998). Reaching the Resistant: Barriers and Bridges for Mission. Pasadena: William Carey. pp. 117-151. (Recommended)

Woodberry provides insight into resistance to the Gospel found in Japan, including historical factors and cultural factors, identifying the institution of emperor worship as one of the most damaging blows to the progress of the Church in Japan. He also explores other barriers to the Church’s growth in Japan, including internal reasons such as pastors not prepared to shepherd congregations larger than 50 and hierarchical leadership issues. -WM

Kraft, Charles. Culture, Worldview and Contextualization. Edited by Ralph Winter and Stephen Hawthorne. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.  Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1999, 384-391

Kraft offers an important examination of issues pertaining to the Gospel and to culture, focusing on what their relationship should be. He asserts that the spread of the Gospel should not include the spread of any particular missionary’s culture. Offering a helpful contrast between worldview and culture, Kraft strives for agents of the Gospel to implement “biblical and cultural appropriateness.” -WM

Coleman, Robert. The Master’s Plan.  Edited by Ralph Winter and Stephen Hawthorne. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1999, 100-103. (Recommended)

Coleman succinctly states at the outset of his article: “The plan of this study has been to trace the steps of Christ as portrayed in the Gospels to discern a motivating reason for the way He went about His mission. His tactics have been analyzed from the standpoint of His ministry as a whole, hoping thereby to see the larger meaning of His methods with men.” He goes on to investigate Jesus’ strategy of investing in just a few men, in order to accomplish his purpose of ushering in the Kingdom of God. -WM

Duin, Julia. “Christian Worldview-an Interview With Ravi Zacharias.Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 2006. http://www.rzim.org/resources/essay_arttext.php?id=18/ (accessed October 16, 2006).

Ravi Zacharias, in this interview, explains that he believes the Christian faith presents the most coherent worldview. He comments on the cowardice of Western journalists who scrutinize Jesus in ways they would never dare approach Mohammed. He continues to comment on issues regarding world religion, American culture, and poverty in India. -WM

Implications for Adventure Ministries Among an Audience with an Islamic Worldview

Brown, Rick.  Muslim Worldviews and the Bible.  Bridges and Barriers (Part I  God and Mankind).  International Journal of Frontier Missions 23:1, 5-12.

The purpose of Rick Brown’s work Muslim Worldviews and the Bible is to develop a full picture of the Muslim worldview in comparison with a Biblical worldview, in order to determine what portions of a Biblical worldview Christians may find common ground with and what portions they can expect to encounter resistance. Brown creates a chart with three columns: first, summaries of Biblical worldviews; third, summaries of Muslim worldviews; and middle, a symbol representing their relationship, defined as a bridge, a similarity, a difference, or a barrier. -WM

Brown, Rick.  Muslim Worldviews and the Bible.  Bridges and Barriers (Part II, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Age to Come).  International Journal of Frontier Missions 23:2, 48-56.

The purpose of Rick Brown’s work Muslim Worldviews and the Bible is to develop a full picture of the Muslim worldview in comparison with a Biblical worldview, in order to determine what portions of a Biblical worldview Christians may find common ground with and what portions they can expect to encounter resistance. Brown creates a chart with three columns: first, summaries of Biblical worldviews; third, summaries of Muslim worldviews; and middle, a symbol representing their relationship, defined as a bridge, a similarity, a difference, or a barrier. -WM

Beaumont, Mark Ivor. “Early Muslim Interpretation of the Gospels.” Transformation 22, no. 1 (January 2005): 20-27.

Beaumont seeks to investigate the way Muslims understand the Gospels of the Christian bible, as most Muslims are taught that the four Gospels attest to the coming of Muhammad as the promised “comforter.” He discovers that most Muslims disagree about the reliability of the Gospels, asserting that they have been corrupted and passages referring to Muhammad removed. He stresses the importance of Christians in discussion with Muslims to go through and interpret the Gospels for them, so that they can see the accuracy of the Gospels’ witness to Jesus. -WM

Beaumont, Mark Ivor. “Early Christian Interpretation of the Qur’an.” Transformation 22, no. 4 (October 2005): 195-203.

This article shows that Muslims think that the Gospels show Jesus to be human but the validity of this information is unsure. Debate has been going on for a long time concerning topics like the equality of the Trinity, authenticity of the Gospels, and Christians leaving out information of Muhammad. -WM

Carey, George.  “Islam and the West:  The Challenge to the Human Family.”  Transformation 22 no. 1 (January 2005): 3-10.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury argues here that the world “is in great peril” because of the ideological tension separating the West from the Islamic world. He claims that the extremist sects of Islam do not reflect the true values of Islam. He points out the diversity found within Islam, dispels stereotypes of its faith. His main goal is to promote an ecumenical conversation. -WM

Implications for Adventure Ministries Among an Audience with a Hindu Worldview

Stephens, Sunil H. “Doing Theology in a Hindu Context.” Journal of Asian Mission 1, no. 2 (1999): 181-203.

Stephens offers a good summary of Hindu faith, making the point that to study it in the way that we westerners study things, will miss the meat of what Hinduism is all about. It is a way of life, not simply a philosophy; it is a faith fully integrated with every aspect of one’s life. He uses C.S. Lewis’ metaphor of a man, a motif  and a metaphor to explore Hinduism from a Judeo-Christian perspective. His aim is to be sympathetic in order to have understanding and love for a people who need the Father. -WM

Implications for Adventure Ministries Among an Audience with a Buddhist Worldview

Rao, P. Sathkeerthi et. al, Chairman. Report of the Consultation on World Evangelization; Mini-Consultation on Reaching Buddhists. Pattaya, Thailand: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 1980, 1-23 (23 pgs).

This article is intended to aid in the evangelization of the Buddhist world, and focuses on two main branches of Buddhism: Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. It gives principles and strategies for reaching both, including an exhortation to recognize the powerful demonic forces behind Buddhism. The conclusion is that holistic strategies are important for reaching both types of Buddhism. -WM

Implications for Adventure Ministries Among the Poor

Barr, Rev. Fr Kevin J. (1998). Concern for Underprivileged Youth: A Theological Reflection on Ministry. The Pacific Journal of Theology. Series II. No. 19. pp. 33-41. (Recommended)

Barr recounts his own journey into awareness of poverty issues while doing missionary work in a number of countries throughout the world. As he came to know the poor youth of Suva, he realized that the “someone” to do something about the poverty was him—eventually starting Chevalier Hostel to house homeless boys.  -WM

Grigg, Viv. (1990). Companion to the Poor. Monrovia: MARC. pp. 203-217. (Recommended)

Grigg describes the process of mobilizing a movement to reach the urban poor of ten major Asian cities. Raising up one hundred church planters is a monumental task! This writing pulls no punches when it comes to the cost of serving, the very real sacrifices necessary to bring the Kingdom to Asia’s inner-city poor. -WM

Opportunities for Adventure Ministry in Response to Globalization

Stackhouse, Max L. & Dearborn, Tim & Paeth, Scott. (2000). The Local Church in a Global Era: Reflections for a New Century. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 209-216. (Recommended)

Answering a difficult question quite directly, the authors here deal with the issues of why injustices happen very matter-of-factly by stating that the reason is that people have rejected their Maker and therefore rejected any source of goodness or justice or love. He continues to address the questions that follow, including “why does God allow humans to so abuse their free will?” never settling for pat answers but instead going the way of humility, the cross, God’s desire for our freely-given love, and the hope for eternity. -WM

Adventure Ministry Among People Impacted by Violence

Haugen, Gary A. (1999). Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World. Downers Grove: Intervarsity. pp. 125-134. (Recommended)

There is injustice in the world due to the choices men have in following their own sinful ways instead of living in fear of the Lord. But why does God allow this injustice to occur? This article points to the fall of humanity, leading to a God who has bore himself all measure of his creation’s suffering as well as His desire of our freely chosen love. Eternity gives us hope that one day this suffering will end. -KJ

Jack, Kristin. (2009). The Sound of Worlds Colliding. Phnom Penh: Hawaii Printing House. pp. 89-95. (Recommended)

This story told encourages one to listen to the Spirit’s promptings to be and do what we hear the still small voice of the Spirit calling us to do.  This could be the difference between life and death. Dave Andrews tells this story when he lived with his family among marginalized people in India. -KJ

Adventure Ministry Implications for Evangelism

Webber, Robert E. (2002). The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 173-186. (Recommended)

This article encourages Christians to be, “real Christians in a real world – not phony Christians in a world of their own making. To achieve this goal, they know that they must break from the legalistic bondage of a spirituality defined by external rules and embrace the true meaning of freedom in Christ.” Young evangelicals in their desire for piety that has the force of tradition behind it are turning towards sacraments, new ways of baptism, to a more frequent celebration of the Eucharist, to spiritual directors, Holy readings, the labyrinth, icons, and spiritual pilgrimage. -KJ

Contextualization and Cross Cultural Discipleship

Axtell, Roger E. (1985). Do’s and Taboos Around the World: A Guide to International Behavior. Elmsford: Benjamin Company Inc. 49-100. (Recommended)

This document goes through countries and lists their general protocol, greetings/names, appointments/punctuality, hospitality/gift giving, dress, and conversation. A very useful tool for those who travel to other countries and need a quick guide to ways of different countries. -KJ

Barrett, Justin L., Porter, Tenelle J., Emmons, Robert A,  Schnitker, Sarah A. “Different Styles Reach Different Kids: An Empirical Enquiry into Young Life Camping”.  Journal of Youth and Theology (2009) vol. 8 no. 1, pp 10-27.

Results suggest that different types of outreach camping experiences may be better at preparing different types of kids to respond positively to the Gospel message. -from Abstract

Condon, John C. (1984). With Respect to the Japanese. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press. pp. 35-59. (Recommended)

This article discusses Japanese and American approaches to speech and silence making interactions between the difference cultures confusing. Americans engage in conversation in a linear method as opposed to Japanese speaking like a curve, discussing in a round about way. Two other distinct differences are manners and time; Japanese have an informal way about time. -KJ

Dunlop, Hannah. (2009). The Development of an Evaluation Framework. 24-7 YouthWork Evaluation Project, pp. 19-26. (Recommended)

This article outlines the history of 24-7 Youthwork, then suggests the six key principles to youth development, what youth gain from these principles, youth development approaches, and five shared outcomes that are at the core of what 24/7 Youthwork does. This paper also discusses the 24-7 youth work network values. Last this article shows their structure and key terminology.-KJ

Fritz, Paul J. Contextualizing the Message Through Use of Case Studies. International Journal of Frontier Missions Vol 12:3 Jul-Sep 1995, pp. 147-152.

This article shows the ways that Jesus used case studies to affect and influence the people around him. We must as well learn this method in order to be effective in evangelism in the non western world. Case studies provide for greater comprehension within a story. KJ

Kapp, Robert A. (1983). Communicating with China. Chicago: Intercultural Press, pp. 9-27. (Recommended)

This article clearly shows the common knowledge that there are endless characteristics of Chinese culture and behavior that differentiate with the West. Specifically this article addresses the consequences this causes among interactions. It has become easy to see a foreigner as being both foreign and Chinese at the same time. This enables foreigners to live separate and equal lives, being treated very well but living at a distance. This leaves a sizeable gap between Chinese and Americans that needs real communication to bridge it.  -KJ

Matheny, Tim. (1981). Reaching the Arabs: A Felt Need Approach. Pasadena: William Carey Library. pp. 146-155. (Recommended)

This article shows that the felt needs of Arabs can be met by the relevance of the Christian Gospel. These needs are universal needs, needs based on cultural themes, needs based on Islam, and needs produced by Westernization. In using this approach an Arab would be moved from their felt needs to their ultimate need of God in how God sees their needs. -KJ

Sanneh, Lamin. (1987). Christian Missions and the Western Guilt Complex. The Christian Century. April 8. Accessed.

This article shows that the western guilt complex needs to be addressed.  Instead of being driven by guilt Christian missions needs to be viewed as a translation movement that helps with religious change and social transformation.  This is what Christian Missions seeks instead of western cultural domination allowing Western cultural differences to be viewed positively as an opportunity for cross cultural exchange instead of as a barrier. -KJ

Smith, Robert.  “The Use Of Foreign Financed National Christian Workers“, International Journal Of Frontier Missions, Vol 9:2April 1992, pp. 57-63.

This article explores the benefits and dangers of foreign financial support of national Christian workers. Three models used in missionary efforts include tent making, the monastic model (internal finance model), and the external finance model. The article ends by discussing the author’s experience of financially supporting national Christian workers. -KJ

Taylor, Steve. (2005). The Out of Bounds Church?: Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change. El Cajon: Zondervan. pp. 81-97. (Recommended)

This article profoundly suggests that the church act as tour guides by searching for ways to move people from recreation to experimentation to existential relocation in the kingdom of God and radically committed converts of Jesus Christ. This means the church should explore all the possibilities of providing people with memorable experiences filled with multi-sensory environments encouraging people to participate as well as gain skills and knowledge through exploration. -KJ

Developing Catalytic Indigenous Leaders through a Commitment to Spiritual Formation

Daniel, Brad.  The Life Significance of a Spiritually Oriented Outward Bound-Type Wilderness Expedition. PhD diss., Antioch New England Graduate School, Keen, NH.  2003, pp. 36-41, 163-187.

This portion of the study shows how outdoor adventure has been integrated into a ministry tool through different colleges and programs.  In these trips there are several challenges that lead students to a better understanding of themselves, God, nature, and the Word.  These challenges include rock climbing, solo, days without the instructors, and the end challenge. -KJ

Sustainability of Adventure Ministries

Davis, John Jefferson. (1984). Your Wealth in God’s World: Does the Bible support the Free Market? Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. pp. 72-85. (Recommended)

This article stresses the differences between socialism and capitalism. In support of socialism the author shows how capitalism promotes individualism, materialism, and political power in the hands of a wealthy few. But in the end, basic biblical principles concerning property and the nature of man point to the free market as the most desirable economic system. -KJ

Denton, Ashley & Hoppin, Jon. (2010). Nepal Trekking Microenterprise Business Plan. Fort Collins: Nexus International (10 pgs). ON DENVER SEMINARY MOODLE

This article discusses the procedures necessary for starting a trekking business in Nepal in order to meet the need of unemployment. This will enable more young adults to be reached with the Gospel through a relationship with young leaders who will be able to stay in the community because of the support of their small business. -KJ

Getu, Makonen. (2003, July). The Biblical Perspective of Transformational Business. Transformation, pp. 143-152.

This article shows the characteristics of transformational Business. These kind of businesses recognize the place of God in business, to not value money over God, professional excellence, servant leadership, and Biblical profit making. The article ends by answering the question how Christian businesses can utilize their wealth as part of their response to the Great Commission. -KJ

Getu, Makonen (2003, July). First African Christian Microenterprise Development Conference. Transformation, pp.129-131 (3 pgs).

This article discusses Christian microenterprise development conferences that were held with the intention of finding common ways to effectively contribute towards wealth creation, poverty reduction, and kingdom building. This network is built to equip Christian Microenterprise development organizations in Africa so that they realize their potential in creating wealth and building sustainable communities. -KJ

Mugabi, Stephen.  (2003, July).  Building God’s Kingdom through Microenterprise Development:  A Christian Vision for Transformational Development. Transformation, pp. 111-139 (29 pgs).

This article discusses the faith based and secular transformational development perspectives on microenterprise development as well as presents the concept of poverty.  Transformational development is described as ‘a deeply rooted change in people’s economic, social, political, spiritual, and behavioral conditions resulting in their enjoyment of wholeness of life under God’s ordinances.’ The paper also outlines the Christian response to alleviating poverty. -KJ

Musyimi, Mutava.  (2003, July). Building God’s Kingdom through Microenterprise Development. Transformation, pp. 152-153 (2 pgs).

This article suggests that we need to develop and sustain a people centered approach to development creating a balance between profitability and social development. This way the poorer people will benefit rather than just a few. -KJ

Prahalad, C. K. (April 2010). Best Practices Get You Only So Far. Harvard Business Review, 88-4, p. 32 (1 pg).

Executives must use innovation in treating sustainability seeing it as an opportunity rather than a problem. Inclusive development is a corporate social responsibility and can lead to a path of growth. -KJ

Quatro, Scott. Is Business as Mission (BAM) a Flawed Concept; A Reformed Christian Response to the BAM Movement”. The Journal of Biblical Integration in Business, VOL. 15, NO, 1, SPRING 2012 pp. 80-87.

Teaching Strategies For Adventure Ministries

Friere, Paulo. (1990). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum Books. pp.179-183. (Recommended)

This exerpt discusses the oppressor and the oppressed. “Just as the oppressor, in order to oppress, needs a theory of oppressive action, so the oppressed, in order to become free, also needs a theory of action.  This action must involve both the people and the revolutionary leaders.”  -KJ


McPhail, Robyn.  Living on the Land:  Ecotheology in Rural New Zealand. Ecotheology.  Vol 6.1, 6.2 (2001). pp. 138-151.

This study aims at countering the, “claims that New Zealand agriculture is devoid of ecotheological foundation, but also to affirm the positive in actual thought and practice of rural people and raise questions about what is still mission.” The researcher does this by drawing on experience in rural church and community to show changes since the mid twentieth century. The study ends showing that the point and purpose of all faith and practice is the Sabbath. -KJ

Medical Missions

Ewert, D. Merrill. (1980). A New Agenda for Medical Missions. Brunswick: MAP International. pp. 119-123, 131-135. (Recommended)

This article discusses that the western medical model based on one-to-one curative medicine is not the best model to deal with overwhelming volume illness found in developing countries. The better method which allows people to take responsibility for their own health and a better vehicle for evangelism is community based health care. -KJ

Christian Camping

Cowles, David.  Wilderness Camping Comes of Age: The Medium That Has Taught Generations How To Survive Has Survived Itself. (1 pg).

This article moves through the forward and set back movements within camping ministry since the 1960s. In conclusion the author suggests that camping ministry is here to stay with a profound statement, “the more we falter spiritually, the more we need to know and be known by God and others. There’s no better way to do that than to immerse people in His creation. -KJ

Tsumura, Makoto.  (2010). A Framwork for Creating Program and Environment in Christian Camp in Japan. Wheaton College:  Master’s Thesis, pp. 29-84 (55 pgs). ON DENVER SEMINARY MOODLE

This article aims at creating a framework for camp programming in Japan. The author stresses that relationships should be the foundation for any camp in that a camp needs to focus first on training quality staff as well as relying on God’s power to effectively run a camp. The paper also describes temporary community as well as Japanese culture. -KJ

How to Write Amazing Observation Questions | Outdoor Bible Study

Here we begin a three part series, “3 Steps to Writing Well-Crafted Outdoor Bible Study Questions.” My single objective is to remove the “barrier of entry” to effective wilderness ministry by giving Christian outdoor leaders a topo map that leads to competence and confidence in the skill of crafting awesome Bible-reflection questions for the wilderness setting.

What Coaching Basketball Teaches me about Outdoor Ministry Soul Care

It’s easy to talk about generalities with people by encouraging them to “think positively”, or “believe in yourself”, or “overcome your fears”. Those are general things that most people know they “ought” to be doing. But are they game changers? I don’t think so. By contrast, a truly effective spiritual leader will seek to know the person, and their life situation like a coach knows his players and the game they are playing. Then he can offer game changing perspective. Caring for another person’s soul involves giving specific guidance. Much like players on the court battling for the ball against a team that wants to shut them down, in the spiritual journey everyone needs someone to coach them by offering specific words on target to the unique inner-workings of their soul.