Over the summer program we focus on 3 major contexts for growth. Work, Wilderness, and Worship. We believe that God grows a man primarily in these 3 areas. Below you will find descriptions of each context.
For generations, men have been called to use their hands to build, create, and harvest the world around them. From tilling the soil to crafting masterpieces in construction, the fruit of man’s labor is the world around us today.
As men worked together, they passed down skills of survival, strong work ethic, and prosperity to their sons and grandsons. Boys often learned their father’s trade and through it were shaped into men. Masculinity was bestowed. Young men stepped into the paths of those who had gone before them.
The rise of the industrial revolution brought change through factories, cars, technology, and long commutes. Men were pulled out of their homes and towns for new and ‘better’ opportunities. This led to fathers being far from the home in cubicles and in front of computer screens, not necessarily working side by side with their sons. Without the guidance from fathers, many young men have become passive and scared to take action when needed. They have become lazy and entitled expecting a life free of suffering where everything is done for them and not much expected of them.
At Training Ground, we will confront this passivity and spirit of entitlement that paralyzes a young man’s development. We provide a labor job that will challenge him physically and in the deepest places of his heart. Through hard work and demanding labor, young men will find God and will be rewarded with the important process of exposing, testing, and building their heart. Working on a construction site can teach a man what can never be taught in a classroom or at a computer desk. Young men will step on the shoulders of the men of ages past, and find their own stories through their hands and the sweat on their brows. (Genesis 3:17)
God has something important to teach a man through his work.
When God created Adam, He set him in beauty, adventure, and mystery. He put him among the beasts, wild animals, gardens, and wild flowers. He also gave him order and rule in the world covered in wilderness. And God gave man permission to explore.
Ever since that permission was granted, men have set about exploring mountains, forests, and rivers. From Erik the Red with his Viking fleet heading to Greenland, Ernest Shackleton leading an expedition to the frozen seas of the Antarctic, and Paul’s missionary journey through the Mediterranean sea and Macedonia, wilderness and exploration are in a man’s blood.
In the Bible, God took the prophet Elijah into the wilderness and fed him by Ravens. He took Moses and the Israelites into the desert for 40 years to teach them dependence. God spoke of Israel in Hosea 2:14, “I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” John the Baptist was raised in the wilderness. Even Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days to be tested and tried.
There is something in us that needs to be transformed in the wilderness. Yet few of us have ever explored the world around us beyond a paved road, a vehicle, and our cell phone. We are more comfortable with air-conditioned stores and the safety of our homes.
At Training Ground, our goal is to create opportunities for young men to engage and experience Christ in the wilderness. It could be in the Rocky Mountain streams fly-fishing with our guides Ron and Timm, hiking after work through sandstone valleys, or a week of canoeing through the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. No matter where, it will be an adventure of a lifetime.
Does the “wild” make you a man? No. But it is in this place where our deepest fears, needs, and desires are exposed. It is this place of challenge and rest where our lives and heart become center stage and our God is revealed. You will be tested and invited into unexplored areas of your own heart as you meet God in the wilderness.
Many of us experience the rise of technology and innovation in the church every Sunday. We are exposed to fancy lights, PowerPoint presentations, and music on big stages. However, few of us develop the ability to sit, listen, and cultivate a relationship with Christ.
Jesus Christ leads us to the kind heart of the Father. Jesus brings us a new revelation, to know God as “Abba, Father.” But for most of us, there is a disconnect. How do we receive the Fathering we need from God?
Training Ground takes young men into a true and deep relationship with God. We teach how to experience God through scripture, prayer, sitting in silence and solitude to experience the Father’s heart and intimacy. From times in the wilderness to sitting over coffee with the scriptures before work, our desire is to help young men develop their relationship with Christ. Young men are invited to explore their wounds to find the healing Jesus brings, grow in awareness of God’s presence in and around us, and develop a response to His good heart in intentionality and intimacy.