Why have an annual men’s camping/fishing trip?

The men of Redeemer headed for our 59th (creative license) annual camping/fishing trip. Due to my 2nd son’s birth, I missed the trip of two years ago, but have had the opportunity to go on the last two. Part of what excites me the most about these trips is that they are almost entirely planned by someone not named “Geoff” and therefore not dependent upon me. It’s always exciting to see guys take ownership of ministries.
On this last trip I really began to reflect upon why such a trip is really a ministry. And it doesn’t depend on your definition of “is.” I really think these trips play a part in all the discipleship, shepherding, and mobilization of men.
Let me explain.
Whether today’s folks like to hear it or not, women and men are just different. And so you if you are targeting men, you can’t do the same things you do for women and expect to get the same results. Often times men really need to get away in order to go deep. Women can have a brunch and get deep pretty quickly. Men can’t. There is something about getting away, getting out of town, and pitching a tent that brings out depth and openness. Men take a longer time to know and be known. But this certainly speeds up the process.
I learned things about guys who I thought I was pretty close to this week that I had no clue about. I learned about parents who had passed away young, sibling rivalries (and sibling violence-a guitar broken over the head of another!), family backgrounds, war experience, a common love for Belize. I learned of church backgrounds, what people were reading and how Tim Keller had connected with them (and not to eat a pound of hamburger meat in a 16 hour period). 
I briefly mentioned a book I’ve been reading In the presence of my enemies, and found out one of the guys was actually in the Philippines at the time of this missionary couple’s kidnapping. He even gave me some inside info.
None of this stuff had to be forced. If people love Jesus, and get together in such a setting, stuff naturally comes out and there is no need for a planned devotional time.

A shared experience draws men more so than a shared meal. I wouldn’t have learned half of what I had if we went out to eat, even on a regular basis. I like going to eat, and that’s a start, but men need relational help. We really do. This is a huge help in connecting people who would otherwise only have a surface relationship at church. Now that church relationship is enhanced. The lads may have little in common, but they have an experience now. When guys taste deep relationships, they want more. They are ripe to be plugged into small groups.

Maybe this is just as much true for women, but I think men profit to a greater degree from it.

With the glory of nature, I had the opportunity to worship God. With the glory of community, I had the chance to be know and be known, and then worship God in thanksgiving. And I needed it.
The fishing was OK, with lots of small fish and the monster small mouth bass that broke my line. But because of the two aforementioned reasons, I’m thankful for this ministry. So if you are one of the women who sacrificed or were willing to sacrifice a weekend away from your husband, I thank you. Nay, I salute you.
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