When it comes to reaching men, we start with boys. What better way to do that than in the great outdoors?
“When you take a boy outside, and you give him a man, it changes his life.”
Did you ever think that something as simple as whittling a stick and roasting a hot dog over a fire would be the way to a young man’s heart? That’s just what Rick Magee of Kids Outdoor Zone hears regularly. “Mom, this was the best day of my life.”
Rick knows this better than anyone. He grew up without a dad, and even though he excelled in academics and sports, he felt the gap of being fatherless his whole life.
Later in life, he found himself filling that gap for other fatherless young men, but it lacked something. He was not sharing the Gospel, and he had no way to continue to engage with these young men. Then his pastor called him out… he was officially dubbed, “The Men’s Pastor.”
Rick found a way to combine his passion for the outdoors and his heart for ministry when he helped secure a hunting lease for the church on a 500-acre property. Church members could come, bring a young man or a friend, and leverage the outdoors for Kingdom purposes.
But you don’t need 500 acres. If you want to start an outdoor ministry, Rick says just begin by taking a kid fishing, or take him to a range. Grab a buddy, go with a few guys, engage a young man who needs a father figure.
“A boy needs a man to become a man.”
In 2020, about 18.3 million children, 1 in 4, live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. (Fatherhood.gov)
Rick knows, “We are in the middle of the unspoken crisis of our country; the men of our church are the answer. Every statistic that deteriorates for a boy when he doesn’t have a dad, all of it turns around when a boy gets a mentor.”
Using the outdoors, God’s creation, for ministry is an incredible platform.
There’s no reset in nature, no enabling. You’ve just got to figure it out. Rick has heard from moms of boys he works with time after time, “You are literally changing my son’s life.”
And it’s not just young men. He saw a friend’s daughter, a self-proclaimed atheist, grow closer to her dad and eventually ask for prayer after hunting on the church property. It’s hard to believe that sharing time and shooting her first deer together launched that conversation.
Rick has also seen older men come to meet Jesus. One old outdoorsman, drawn to a family event by the outdoor sports, came to the realization he needed a Savior at 65 years old. Two years later he connected again with Rick to share all that God had been doing in his life.
Outdoor ministry isn’t just for others – it’s for you. Rick says KOZ is even more of a ministry for the men who step up than for the boys.
“Many men are sitting on the sideline wondering what to do. God has given you the exciting opportunity to find your mission and purpose.”
One wife shared that her husband is leading her family spiritually like never before. Ministry to others drew him into the calling for his own family.
Guys, you don’t have to be an expert. If you can whittle, sharpen a stick, or show someone how to hook a line, and you love Jesus, you’ve got what it takes to minister to others. The weather is getting warmer, and it’s a great time to enjoy the outdoors! Make the most of it for the Kingdom. There’s no time like the present.
Here are some easy ideas from Rick anyone can get started with.
- Go fishing.
- Call a local sports/outdoors facility (archery, shooting, etc.) to see if you can bring some young people to learn. They are often chomping at the bit to teach the next generation these skills.
- Go hunting.
- Go hiking.
- Build a fire in your back yard and roast hot dogs or make s’mores.
- Get involved with KOZ. You can find a group or start a group with your church. It’s easy! They’ve got it all planned for you. All you need is 3 guys at your church to get started.
- Contact Rick (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find some local churches that are beginning a KOZ program and get involved.