HIKING AND MINISTRY
Hiking and ministry may seem like an odd couple but they work perfectly.
Shortly after moving to Taiwan my wife and I went hiking. We realized while we were out in nature that it would be a great way to build relationships and minister to our friends. Hiking may not seem like common ministry in a city with over 6 million people, but that is why it is perfect. So many people in Taipei have never left the city and been in nature. My wife and I work in college ministry and love taking students out of the city for several hours on a fun hike. This is a great way to bring students out of their normal environment to experience something new and have deep conversations. With anything it’s important to plan. There are a few things to think about when using hiking as a ministry.
What is your purpose for the hike?
Who are the people you’re hiking with?
Where you are going and how to get there?
What to bring?
1. The Purpose
The first thing to think about is the purpose. Why do you want to take people hiking and what goal do you have in mind? We think about this question all the time before we get a group together to go hiking. Hiking can be used for all different types of ministries, activities, and people. Whether you’re taking new friends or old friends there are many different places and ways to go hiking. Main purposes for using hiking for ministry: Build deeper relationships, develop mental and physical health, experiencing God’s creation first hand, and creating deep conversations.
Hiking might be a new experience for many. Having this new exciting experience that is fun and tiring is a quick way to build relationships with someone. Often people don’t realize that their mental and physical problems are a result of being stuck in the busyness of life.
Getting out into nature to clear help clear the mind can help heal students mentally and physically.
Sometimes people are so disconnected from God’s creation it begins to be easier and easier to ignore his wonder. Getting into the wilderness can bring insight to students to the beautiful creation of God.
Nature is an easy conversation starter! “Wow, this view is amazing, God’s creation is awesome. I was reading in the Bible about…” Sometimes it can feel awkward to get those deep conversations going but amazingly when you are away from other people and in a “secluded” environment those conversations come more naturally for both parties.
2. Whose Going?
The second thing we always take into consideration is the people we will be hiking with. Have they been hiking many times before, have they never left the city, or somewhere in-between. Thankfully Taiwan is full of hiking options for all levels. Many times we would take new friends on an easy hike to gauge their hiking level and to help us develop a relationship with them. Beginner hikes tend to be shorter and have more walking paths that allow people to carry on conversations better. They are a great way to get to know new friends or people you are trying to share the gospel with. More advanced or complicated hikes can be a great way to exercise and just be out in nature with friends.
Make sure the students understand what the experience will be like. If they have no experience they might thing they need a ton of equipment, special boots, and a weeks worth of food! However, preparing a simple list, or sitting down and showing them what to bring can be helpful. (see list under section 4 below)
We once went hiking with a new group of hikers. One of the members had never gone hiking before. They went out to a outdoors store and bought a lot of unneeded gear for the trip. We were able to laugh about it later but we could have probably saved him some trouble.
3. Where are you going and how to get there?
The third thing to think about may seem obvious but many times it is something that people overlook.
Where are you going? Not all trails are created equal, while some are fine for a quick trip others require more prep. Its good to-do some pre-hike planning before hitting a trail you’ve never done before. Luckily online has a lot of resources on hiking trails around Taiwan and especially Taipei. Below we will list some resources to help you get started.
Most hiking trails in Taipei are easy to get to either by bus or MRT. Some of the advanced hikes require a train or car to get to. Many times buses only stop at the trailheads a few times a day so it can sometimes be hard to time when to go back. Luckily there are resources to help. Google is a quick and easy way to figure out if you can get to/from a hiking trail with a bus simply put in the hiking trails location and select bus as your mode of transport. After you figure out if there is a bus now you need to know how often it arrives or when it will arrive. Below is a link to track real-time bus locations, with this you can track when the buses will arrive as some hiking trails will be much-less frequently.
4. What to Bring?
The fourth and final thing on the list would be “what to bring.” Anytime we go hiking we always remind people to bring at least one bottle of water and a snack to eat while hiking. We also bring bug spray and sunscreen for everyone to use and a first aid kit if anyone needs it. Many of the hikes in Taiwan have rope sections and most of our friends will use gloves to protect their hands. We will also plan a short Bible study that we can talk about when eating our snacks on the hike.
- Bottle of Water
- Bug Spray
- Phone and Charger (for pictures and in case of emergency)
- Gloves (optional)
These are just a few of the things we think about every time we go hiking. Just remember to do your research, think about the friends that will be joining you, and talk about the glory of God’s creation. We serve a wonderful God and should be so thankful every time we get to explore His creation.